You can learn just about anything on YouTube, but it can be overwhelming knowing where to start. Here are six YouTubers every musicians should know about.
It is common to hear people complain about the current state of music. Artists don’t make money off of records anymore, streaming services pay almost nothing, and labels are collapsing under bloated, outdated business models.
Some of these complaints are valid. However, I do find it frustrating so many musicians focus on the downside of technological advancements instead of the upside. For instance, throughout human history, it has never been easier to learn about music than it is right now. At the center of this revolution is Youtube. Simply put, the creation of Youtube marked the biggest milestone in music education since Bernhard Sekles created the first official college jazz curriculum in 1928.
Here are six musical Youtubers you should start following right now in order to squeeze every last bit of information out of the most valuable source of musical knowledge on the internet.
One of the things which makes 12tone’s content so unique is he is a music theorist first and an instrumentalist second. While this may seem like a minor identity distinction, it results in a significant shift in perspective. 12tone is able to contextualize his lessons on a much grander scale than most Youtubers–he’s not relating theory back to an instrument, he’s placing it on a stage beside similar concepts from all across history. Another thing I love about 12tone is he seems to be one of the few Youtubers who really understands brevity. Even his most complex videos are nice and short, because he knows you can go back and watch them anytime if you need further clarification.
A good video to start with is Diminished 7th Modulations and the Swiss Pivot Chord.
Friedemann Findeisen has mastered the video essay format. His videos are bursting with information, but they don’t feel rushed. He clearly knows more than you, but he never comes off as condescending. He covers complex topics, but always breaks them into easy to digest chunks. The best compliment I can give Findeisen is his channel truly lives up to the name. You come away from each of his videos feeling complete in your knowledge of the topic he was discussing.
A good video to start with is How Nirvana Writes a Chord Progression.
I feel quite confident saying Victoria Hart is the most intelligent person on this list. She can discuss music, geometry, and the physics of sound in a way that is simultaneously accessible and meticulously thorough. Vihart pairs her vast knowledge with a whimsical sense of humor and an eye-catching visual aesthetic. Each video she makes is a work of art in and of itself. Sadly, out of all the Youtubers on this list, Vihart uploads the most infrequently. But when she does, you can be sure the video she posts will be something you never thought to imagine.
A good video to start with is Twelve Tones. It’s long, but beautiful.
If I had to choose one word to describe Ben Levin, it would be eccentric. Ben is known for being the guitarist in the hella hip band Bent Knee, and his channel is as bizarre as it is informative. What I love most about Ben’s content is the immense variety of subjects he covers. Do you want advice on how to use compression when mixing? Ben has a video for that. Want an in depth explanation of vocal techniques coupled with cheesy video game animations? Ben’s got it. Want a trippy exploration of the dark side of self promotion and social media disguised as a gear rundown? You know Ben has it. If you’re a musician who is looking to learn about the entire gamut of music, Ben is your guy.
A good video to start with is Leaping Lydian Key Changes.
No matter what instrument you play, Drumeo is a channel you can’t afford to ignore. They regularly upload hour long clinics with the best drummers on the planet. Not only is it a treat to see the various rhythmic ideas behind some of the greatest grooves of all time (which can easily be translated to any instrument), but it is also enlightening to hear musicians of Billy Cobham’s caliber explain their musical philosophies. Of all the channels on this list, Drumeo is the one which truly underscores how insane it is that Youtube is free. Drumeo offers professionally produced interviews with living icons at no cost.
A good video to start with is Anika Nilles: Exploring Quintuplets.
Creative Sound Lab
Have you ever wondered what it would sound like if you laid nine toms on their side, clustered them around a drum set, and mic’d them all up? Neither have I, but Ryan Earnhardt did! Earnhardt is an audio engineer bent on sharing his wacky brain with his audience. Along with bizarre drum setups, garden hose reverb hacks, and spinning microphone techniques, Ryan uploads a lot of basic how-to videos full of practical content. If you want to an be employable musician, you have to have basic knowledge of production and recording. Creative Sound Lab offers you an entertaining opportunity to acquire that knowledge.
A good video to start with is the aforementioned Using 9 Drums to Record a Kit.
Jacob Unterreiner is from Phoenix, Arizona. Around the valley, Jacob is known for three things; his musicianship, his strange habit of wearing the same eleven shirts he’s had since middle school, and a strict 10:00 PM curfew that he adheres to religiously in order to maintain his sanity as a high school English teacher.