YouTube niche

I have been making weekly videos for YouTube for about a month now and I must say I am really enjoying it. There’s so much to learn, e.g. speaking in front of a camera, editing, scripting, and promoting the video and so on. It is also providing me with a way to get stuff ‘out there’. Albeit for a very small audience at the moment. I even uploaded some (over-ambitious) cover songs, some behind the scenes video’s. I’m trying new things, that’s for sure.

I am both IN and OUT of my comfortzone. IN, as in still in my home studio and OUT, as in talking to a possible huge audience.

It is still early days, but I realised quickly I needed to find my niche. For my video’s to have any chance of getting found, they need to be about as specific a subject as possible.

So now I’m trying to come up with ways of describing my niche. Music or musician is much too broad. Maybe youtubemusician, or from mothing to something songwriting. I found I like to inspire and motivate people to make music. People tend to be amazed of how I keep mustering the courage to make (my own) music. And where do the songs and ideas come from? Maybe that’s my niche. I guess time will tell.

In the meantime, you can call me a YouTuber! And maybe consider subscribing!

2017 recap

One horrible day in the hospital ER, made it to 40!, started to run, tournée minérale, three days in Daft with Blue and Broke, found joy in making music again, joined mobile band Play-Mobiel, honored to have Polish singer Aleksandra cover and record some of my songs, RSI led to severe neckproblems, built lots of sandcastles with my son on the beach, more live shows with Barak Friture and Kovver, became uncle for the fifth time (welcome Jaromir), got rid of neckproblems, joined gothic rock band Your Life On Hold, more live shows with Portatief and Sjakos Elektriek, was the ‘Mol’ on Destination Unknown, started this blog and my YouTube-channel, finished (mostly) recording of my fifth album, basically it was a very good year!

‘I just want more of the same!’ – Willemsson

Right

So I made this new video in which I am giving a small tour of my studio. 

I’m trying not to brag about gear or show off too much, but I guess I am proud of my little kingdom. I am by no means a gear slut. I don’t collect gear, just for the sake of collecting. I use it all, and if I don’t, I sell it. But as a producer / arranger you like to have options and when it comes to gear, you really need to focus on the sound BEFORE you think about recording it.

I guess what that means is (in decreasing order of importance):

  1. Learn to play the guitar, learn to sing, etc…
  2. Get a great sounding instrument, be it an acoustic guitar/bass, or electric guitar with a great sounding amp. And when I say great sounding, I don’t mean expensive. From a producer’s point of view you need to get the right  sound for the song/production. And sometimes the right sound is the cheapest instrument. (And sometimes not). Like when my Dan Electro Longhorn bass can sometimes be a better option than my 1970s Fender Mustang. And for a third of the price!
  3. Record using the right mic. Again right doesn’t equal expensive. My Rode NT-2 (300€) has almost always proven to be the better mic for my vocals than the Neumann TLM-49 (1500€).
  4. Record and mix it using any interface, audio software, plugins, etc… 
    I really think a recording made by, let’s say Keith Richards with 500€ worth of gear, will sound better than a recording by a beginner/bad guitarist with all the gear in Abbey Road studios.
    Right?

 

Live

How to play mainly electronic songs live? Well you have to make a decision. Play along with a beat/tape/loop or play everything live. The former option is definitely the most convenient. It will sound exactly like the record and you have a lot of leeway when it comes to choosing (and paying) bandmembers. Don’t have a drummer? No problem, put the drums on the backing track. Your keyboard doesn’t have the same patches as your VSTi? No problem, put the entire keyboardtrack on ‘tape’.

But I tend to gravitate towards playing everything live. It is the more interesting option. It won’t sound exactly like the recording (which is neither good nor bad), and you have to keep it simple. Less is more, you know.

And a good song will stay a good song, no matter the arrangement. Right?

Video

Contemplating on making a music video for every song of the new album. Why? We are living in a visual world and to grab and hold someone’s attention these days, it has become a necessity.
But I’ve come to the conclusion that the video doesn’t have to be an expensive, over-the-top production. Michael Jackson’s (and MTV’s) days are long gone. Maybe just something that intrigues the viewer and adds another dimension to the song.

I’ve been looking at stock and public domain video’s, they are a great source of interesting video material. Also got some ideas for shooting some myself. But I need to keep in mind some advice my brother once gave me. It was after he had seen one of my earlier music video’s (I think it was ‘The Most’). He noted that while I had spent days, if not weeks of writing, recording, polishing, mixing and mastering the audio, I should not “demote” it’s professional level by shooting an amaturish music video.

And indeed I believe a non-video could be just as, if not more, effective and enjoyable than a more traditional music video (cfr. ‘ooh look at me I am walking through the woods in slowmotion’, etc…).

I even have some props lined-up for an upcoming video (a little apparatus called YellowFellow, courtesy of Niek). More on that later.

Meanwhile I’m still inspired and still excited to keep up the hard work.

Keep learning

Spent last week researching how to improve my YouTube channel. As it seems rather hard to reach people and introduce them to my music, I keep looking for new ways. The internet is filled with people giving advice on how to get more views, hits, clicks, likes and subscribers. Some even claim they can do the work for you (if you pay ’em ofcourse)

But reading up on all the tips, there is one that is a must: a channel trailer. So now I am learning about 3 spot lighting, editing (Premiere Pro), syncing, custom thumbnails, etc.

Oh and by the way let me know what you think of  my channel trailer on YouTube. Check it out here.

Channel trailer

Been working on a channel trailer for YouTube. It has to be between 30 and 60 seconds, engaging, clear, to the point, informative, entertaining, etc.

Okay, first things first, what will I say? The text I have so far:

Hi I’m Willemsson, musician, composer, singer and blogger.
As any modern-day artist, I need to be a jack of all trades. So I’m also running my own label (Lemsso Records), recording and mixing most of my songs at my homestudio in beautiful Ostend, on the westcoast of Belgium.

Welcome to my YouTube channel. It features every official music video I make, and also behind the scenes footage. This way I hope to share some of my experience and some of the joy I have making music.

So join me, leave comments below and as always: don’t forget to subscribe!

This is a work in progress, and the channel trailer should change over time, getting updates when needed. Hmm, I see I mentioned ‘behind the scenes footage’, I guess I need to shoot some of those first. Now where did I put that camcorder

Beats

Ever since my first synth, a CASIO sk-200, I have loved beats. I remember pressing start/stop and the 120bpm ‘rock 1’ preset started pumping lo-fi samples, straight into my soul. I was hooked. I even took the small keyboard with me in my bed and listened for hours into the night (with headphones on ofcourse, as not to disturb my parents or sister).

Weirdest thing is though, I have been ashamed of loving beats for most of my childhood and adolescence. Beats (and all drums for that matter) was something my father never got, so it was frowned upon. Too loud, too monotonous, etc. And although our differing taste in music was obvious from the start (he never ‘got’ The Beatles), his influence cannot be underestimated. The fact he earns a good living writing and playing his own music probably had something to do with it. Children want their parents approval, right?

I sometimes wonder what influence I have on my son. It’s kind of inevitable to want him to like the same music I do. Even though he is only five, I try to let him develop his own taste. But when asked which musical instruments he would like to play he answers: ‘Piano and bass guitar, just like my father.’ <melt>

Anyway, suffice it to say I’m no longer ashamed loving beats and I hope my son won’t be ashamed for his taste in music (even if it were to differ from mine).

 

The voice

A while back I got a call from a recruiter for the television show  ‘The Voice’. He had found me online, heard I was a singer and asked me if I was interested in auditioning for the show. My first reaction was: ‘Uhm no, why would I? Have you actually seen the show? It’s ridiculous and it has got nothing to do with music.’ I didn’t say that out loud ofcourse. I politely declined and when he asked me for a reason I said: ‘I am more of a songwriter, and I think the show is more performer oriented?’

I sometimes wonder that maybe these television programs are the only way to reach a bigger audience these days. A way to break-through. But then I think of David Bowie, Mark Everett, Prince, Kurt Cobain, and many others, and realize that there is no way these guys would ever have passed the first round on The Voice. (There are rounds on this show, right? Or I may be confusing it with similar programs).

It frightens me that so many ignorant people take part in these competitions, only to find out they have been used. (It is a TV show, duh). And now they are stuck, having signed a contract, can’t release their own music, can’t perform without the station’s consent, etc… Thinking they would become a star, when the only stars of the show are the judges. (Hmm Slumdog Millionaire comes to mind).

Someone should take a hidden camera behind the scenes, really.
We have no inkling…. really.

/rant off

 

Promotion

How to get my music (in this case the first single) out there.
Spent the last three days submitting the track to blogs, social media, online reviewers, radiostations, etc… I hate this. It’s like taking an exam or doing a job interview over and over again. Selling yourself is hard, but it’s a very important part of making music these days.
Having an online presence, getting involved, reaching out to the public, building an audience. Phrases you hear over and over again when it comes to promoting your music.

It is basically a lot of effort for very little return. But maybe that will change in time, I don’t know. What I do know is that I have to pace myself. I need to find the balance here. Because the stress and tension is really bad for me and it is manifesting itself physically. (Less and lighter sleep, soar muscles and other symptoms you don’t want to know about). I need to listen to – and be more like – my cat and relax!

But, every little bit counts! And once in a while you get a compliment from someone who discovered your music and really liked it. And it’s not just a ‘thumbs-up’ on FB or a generic comment to get more traffic on their own page. That really helps and it reminds me why I am trying to get my music heard.

I want to spread some of the joy I had making it!