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Updated Sunday, January 20, 2013 at 10:47 PM

Sammamish kid bangs washing machine to become YouTube hit

By Erik Lacitis
Seattle Times staff reporter

Things happen when you’re an 11-year-old boy from Sammamish, and your dad posts a YouTube video of you using a washing machine as a drum, and “Whirled Beat” goes viral with nearly 1.5 million views.

Some of the things that happen are good; some, not so much.

It turns out that Jonathan Carollo does a pretty good job at putting together a beat on a Speed Queen Commercial Heavy Duty Super Capacity machine.

He has become a mini-celebrity at Christa McAuliffe Elementary, where he’s a fifth-grader. The local TV crews are showing up at his house. “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” has called.

But his dad, Dan Carollo, also has had to disable the YouTube comments on the video.

“I can’t repeat some of the stuff,” he says. “There are some dark people out there.”

It was just an innocent video, and there were comments along the lines about how he should shove Jonathan into the machine, close the door and turn it on.

Then there was the matter of maybe the video bringing in a few dollars by having those obsequious ads at the beginning.

The dad says he’s sent out emails for copyright infringement to 10 individuals who reposted the video, some trying to make a few bucks because they also had ads at the beginning. One person even claimed it was his own, says Carollo.

It all started back in September, when Dan Carollo, a Microsoft computer engineer, got out his video camera and asked his son to tap away at the washing machine.

Jonathan had been taking weekly drum lessons on a real drum set his parents had gotten him for his 10th birthday.

At home, with the drum set in the garage, he was to practice over and over again using the same music sheets, but got bored.

He decided to tap at other things, a tray, a chair.

“They make the same sound no matter where I hit,” says Jonathan.

Then his sight came upon the family’s washing machine.

Jonathan sticks his arms inside the stainless steel tub.

Tap, tap, tap.

Then he reaches up to the plastic dispenser. Tap, tap, tap.

Different sound, but pretty good.

Then he uses a knee to bang against the front of the machine, creating a deep bass sound.

And we’re rolling.

One day, the dad was at the house and heard the drumming on the washer.

“That sounds pretty cool,” he thought.

Playing on the “World Beat” theme, the dad named the video, “Whirled Beat” and posted the 1-minute, 13-second piece on Sept. 23.

For three months, it sat there, pretty much unnoticed, getting a total of some 500 views.

Then, on Dec. 26, the reddit.com genie brought good luck to the video. The site, in which users can submit content, posted a link to “Whirled Beat.”

The site is so powerful in promoting content that by the next day, Jonathan’s video had gotten 200,000 views, and it was off and running.

To make money off the videos, you can partner with YouTube so it runs ads with them.

A few people do make some big bucks. A New York Times story says that the dad who posted a video of his son coming down from dental anesthesia, made more than $100,000 from YouTube ads.

But a 2012 story by freelancer Steve Chapman on business-technology site ZDNet.com gives more sobering numbers: Chapman says one of his videos, that got 14,804 views, earned him an estimated $16.30.

He says he has no idea how much money the video might earn, although he did sign up early on, when “Whirled Beat” was at around 300,000 views.

Meanwhile, Jonathan is taking his notoriety in stride.

On Thursday, during afternoon recess, three boys hoisted Jonathan up by his arms and legs, he says, “because they were so excited. Tons of kids were coming up to me and asking if I had been in California doing ‘Ellen.’”

No, he explained to them, he had just been home with the flu.

All that had happened so far is that a screener for the “Ellen” show had called and asked Jonathan a bunch of questions, saying the show was thinking about flying him down for a taping. But the show hasn’t called back.

Whatever money the video generates, Jonathan’s parents say they’ll let him spend a couple of hundred dollars for an electric-model airplane, and anything else will go into a college fund.

Jonathan says he still likes drumming on that Speed Queen.

“With my drums, they’re so far apart, I really have to reach them,” he says. “With a washing machine, it’s all in one spot.”

And, no, Speed Queen hasn’t called so far.

Boy, they should.

Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this story. Erik Lacitis: 206-464-2237 or elacitis@seattletimes.com


Mark Harrison / The Seattle Times
Jonathan Carollo, 11, has become a YouTube sensation with more than 1.5 million views of a video his dad took of him drumming on the family’s washing machine.




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