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Percussion Marketing Council (PMC) sponsored free drum lesson tents at Vans Warped Tour (VWT) sites across the country this summer for the sixth year in a row. 

Using this grass-roots approach, PMC provided free beginner drum lessons, aiming to create and expand the next generation of drummers. 

Billy Cuthrell, a PMC member through Progressive Music in Raleigh, North Carolina, is a program director for the PMC VWT initiative, and introduced the idea at a PMC meeting eight years ago. Now PMC reaches out to retailers at Vans Warped Tour and offers free lesson tents to manage onsite lessons.

 “Vans Warped Tour has a whole nonprofit arm. They provide space for a certain number of nonprofits to be on site for each tour. They provide a 10-foot by 10- foot space and often they will even help you set up,” said Cuthrell. “That’s a big draw for retailers. The booth space is valued at $2,000. And since PMC provides the tents as a nonprofit participant, it’s a free, high-visibility space in front of 30,000 captive music lovers.” 

“The Vans Warped Tour is a fun atmosphere and neutral ground for participants, so the intimidation factor disappears,” Cuthrell added. “It’s the perfect alternative to the retail setting, where all drum sets are for sale and the stores can’t just let people sit down and play. For the retailer, they have opened the door to build a relationship with potential new customers. It makes sense to be physically in front of customers, collecting names and contact information, so you can stay in touch.” 

Rhythm Traders of Portland, Oregon is one of the retailers that provided free drum lessons through PMC.

“I had a blast teaching lessons at the Vans Warped Tour in Salem, Oregon,” said Mark Powers, drummer and educator. Powers guessed that they taught about 100 drum lessons that day.

In addition, PMC member Hal Leonard Corporation was represented by Brad Smith at the Milwaukee, Wisconsin stop, which was hosted by Cascio Music Super Store. 

“It still amazes me—every year,” Smith said. “A new crop of young people wants to play drums, and more than half of them are ladies. These are our people.”  

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