I think we can all agree that YouTube is so popular because it fosters a sense of community and togetherness that sometimes feels unprecedented and impossible. Since its arrival on the scene in 2005, YouTube has made it possible for anyone to create an account and post original content, making it easier to disseminate information and connect with like-minded viewers than ever before. It’s the perfect site for entertainment, hosting content relating to gaming, fashion, news, comedy, education, and more.
YouTube also has the peculiar reputation of being able to launch talented content creators into stardom…and ultimately a lucrative career. In particular, talented musicians can connect with and grow their fan bases, offer insight into their creation processes, and receive immediate feedback that shapes their music. In some cases, viewers financially support the music creation process, leading to album releases and tour dates for their favorite stars.
Many musicians begin by producing cover videos, in which they play music, often popular, that has already been created. They may do a straight cover or switch up the arrangement and add their own flair. Musicians typically grow their fan bases through a range of covers, anything from movie themes to pop songs to video game arrangements. Then they often move on to producing their own original music.
When working with teens in a library setting, it’s important to stay on top of popular trends and provide relevant information. And while times certainly do change, music is a universal language that can offer a quick connection. So here are just a few YouTube musicians with very passionate fan bases and very relevant and popular content.
Lindsey Stirling was raised in a Mormon community in Arizona and studied classical music as a teenager. She struggled with an eating disorder as a young adult, and cites music as having comforted her throughout her life. In 2010, she appeared on America’s Got Talent, where she was promptly voted out during the quarterfinals. She was told by Piers Morgan that there was no place in the music industry for a “dancing dubstep violinist”. But instead of giving up, she turned to YouTube. Famous for covers of themes such as Pokemon, Skyrim, and Zelda, she then released two albums of original music, which topped Billboard charts. She also tours worldwide to sold-out venues, collaborates with other artists, and shares her story to encourage others to follow their own dreams.
In 1999, Peter Hollens co-founded an all-male a cappella group at the University of Oregon. Later, he began to experiment with one-man a cappella. While he does a lot of amazing covers, his best content is his range of medleys. Hollens is known for singing all parts of each song he covers, then blending all of those layers together before uploading them to YouTube. He has collaborated not only with other YouTube artists, but also big artists such as Jason Mraz. He recently released his first album and he serves as an advisor to other artists, as well as bigger companies like Patreon, which is a platform that allows viewers to fund the artists they love.
Born in Japan in 1987 to Swiss parents, Scheidegger began to cultivate a love of music early in her life. She started studying classical Japanese dance at age 3, gave her first performance at age 4, and began playing piano at age 5. She studied with master musicians worldwide, and began competing in prestigious music events at age 11, routinely ranking high and winning prizes and scholarships. She’s performed in orchestras and on worldwide stages, but she still envisioned more. So she created “Envisage”, a multimedia project intended to integrate elements of lighting, scenery, art, and video to classic music programs. In 2013, she joined the video game music band Critical Hit and began to cover popular themes. She regularly tours and releases albums and is planning to release her first game album in the near future.
Taylor Davis is a classically trained violinist, arranger, and composer, but her passion is video game and film music. She launched her YouTube channel in 2011, regularly releasing high-quality cover videos and original content. Davis is known for getting in character for her videos, often cosplaying as popular characters from whatever she is covering. She has also recorded video game scores for games such as The Banner Saga. She often appears at events such as E3 and other pop culture conferences, where she’s no stranger to the stage. So far, she has released 7 albums – 5 game, anime, and film albums, 1 Christmas album, and an original album. She is currently on her first tour in the US, with a European tour planned for 2016.
The origin of The Piano Guys lies in an innocent piano shop in southern Utah. Paul Anderson, store owner, was looking for a marketing ploy to increase sales and bring attention to the shop. He was interested in the idea that videos uploaded to YouTube could go viral and reach an astounding number of people, so he decided that it would be fun to make some promotional music videos for the store. When Jon Schmidt entered the store later to use a piano to practice for a gig, the two collaborated and The Piano Guys were born. Later, Steven Sharp Nelson and Al van der Beek joined the duo, as well as a host of people that made the magic behind the scenes happen. The Piano Guys are known for filming in nature, as well as for their mashups of classical and popular music. And don’t forget that one time when they had a Star Wars cello duel interrupted by Darth Vader.
Whether you’re looking for music to play at an event or connecting with a music-loving teen patron, these artists provide a great selection and range of music that is culturally relevant as well as high-quality!