David Holmes explains it all — in song

Over at the Daily Dot, Studio 20 graduate David Holmes breaks down how he became the go-to guy for musical explainers. It all started as part of a class project…

One and a half years ago, in a conference room overlooking lower Manhattan, I stood up in front of the editorial team at one of the most-renowned investigative journalism outlets in the world and started to rap.

It would have been a surreal experience for anybody, let alone a guy who just months earlier had been working in a call center. But there I was, in the media capital of the United States, singing about hazardous chemicals and drilling techniques, half-wondering how soon I could catch a plane back to Columbus, Ohio to laugh with my friends about the time I tried to be a journalist.

In fact, Holmes’ “Fracking Song” went viral, and he’s been at it ever since, putting out many more musical explainers for ProPublica and other media organizations.

Here’s the latest from Explainer Music (Holmes’ company), a music video for PandoDaily about the 1990’s tech bubble:

David’s advice to future Studio 20 students is to think entrepreneurially. “I don’t mean, ‘starting your own business,’” he says. “I mean charting your own path, with or without the help of an established journalistic institution, and, most importantly, not waiting for someone else’s permission to do something innovative.”

And while Holmes has found success with some big-name media outlets, that may not be the only way to get your ideas out there. As he writes:

If consumers and journalists perceive a gap in how the news is reported (in this case, not enough explanation) they don’t have to wait for major organizations or institutions to fulfill the need. Any schlub like me can create a YouTube account and spit out content I think might be beneficial to viewers.

While the success of our videos has largely been driven through more institutional channels, guys like Kevin T. Porter who created the Sorkinisms supercut will tell you that if a video is well-timed and entertaining (and in our case, we’ll add “informative” to the list), all it takes is a community on Twitter or Reddit to discover it in order to attract a huge audience.

Read Holmes’ “personal case study” over at the Daily Dot for some innovation inspiration, and catch our own interview with Holmes, “The Man Behind the News Songs.”