Artist Case Study

-Grant Oliver

I’m doing my case study on Mike Johnston, a professional drummer and educator. Mike began his career doing studio session work and playing in local California rock bands, but soon realized his passion was for education. He has since hosted music camps, played at many education clinics, and published multiple technique and teaching books, but Mike’s largest project has been his online education program. Now through his online classes, he has hundreds of prerecorded lessons, and gives 3 live video lessons per week. I have emailed him to try and get specific answers to these questions, but have not heard back yet, if he does get in touch with me I will update this post.

  • What makes you and your work unique?

Mike Johnston was one of the first musicians to offer comprehensive online music education. For what a normal in-person lesson usually costs, he gives you access to a back catalog of hundreds of specific lesson topics, and up to 12 live video lessons.

  • Do you have a brand or artist statement?

His brand would be offering affordable and professional music education to as many people as possible.

  • Do you have a mission or vision?

Same as above.

  • Do you have career goals laid out for the next 5-10 years?

In an interview with Modern Drummer, Mike stated that his upcoming goals included traveling to more live clinics, offering more education camps aimed at other educators, and improving his own skills as a musician.

  • How are you connecting and building audiences and how do you market to them?

Mike has a strong social media presence and often uploads short video lessons to YouTube for free.

  • Did you look at someone else’s career to make a path for your own and if so, what was it? 

He has stated that his main inspiration has been his own frustration with how he received private lessons, and talking to other drummers while he was on tour.

  • How do you fund your work?

He of course charges for his online lessons, as well as appearances at clinics and for recordings.

  • How did you initially get funding? 

Mike has said that at the beginning, he had to scrape together money from as many sources as possible. playing as many shows and recordings as he could, and offering lessons all over town.

  • What networks or organizations do you belong to and which ones have helped you the most?

He is currently a member of PASIC and of course his own online company that he started. He is seeing massive success with his website, with over 10,000 members currently.

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