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Breaking Out on YouTube: Andrew Huang’s Insights

760x350-AHuangHe’s rapped without the letter E and made music with 1,000 pairs of jeans.

Andrew Huang is a YouTube sensation – his cover of the theme from Breaking Bad using meth lab equipment has reached over a million views.

He’s also created a full rap song without using the letter E, made music with 1,000 pairs of jeans and covered the “99 Red Balloons” with, well, 99 Red Balloons.

All of this has been a part of his YouTube “Song Challenge” Series – we asked him about his music and his tips on how to break through in the YouTube World:

Most important lesson you have learned about social media:
Personality needs to come through. Posts are heaps better when you find a cute joke or insightful thought to spruce them up, even if all you’re doing is announcing a t-shirt discount.

Biggest challenge to breaking out and sharing your music with new people:
I will rap over a dubstep track the day after putting out a country ballad. However, it means there is no single work of mine that provides an accurate first impression – I alienate a lot of people who don’t expect such drastic sonic shifts from release to release. The ongoing challenge is in striking the balance between being authentic to my passions and inspirations, and finding ways to keep new listeners involved in the journey with me.

A performance/online FAIL:
Thankfully nothing too horrendous, but I’ve definitely been underprepared and obviously mangled lyrics more than once.

A performance/online SUCCESS:
Recently I covered Nena’s “99 Red Balloons” using only sounds made with red balloons, and within a week of posting the video it had been viewed 2 million times. Every once in a while you find that idea that is a perfect intersection between what’s unique, what you’re good at, and what will thrill an audience, and in my experience that’s when success comes most easily.

Something that’s worked for you in reaching a larger audience:
The thing that’s helped me most is standing out in some way. Over the years this has taken a lot of different shapes – doing comedy, producing unique music videos, giving downloads away for free, using unorthodox instruments, composing songs that blur genre lines or subvert structural norms, playing shows in weird places like libraries or fans’ garages or the wilderness…

Ingredients for a memorable vocal performance:
People remember how you made them feel more than they remember how well you sang – though obviously you always want to give your best performance.

Any specific ways that one can help that feeling to happen?
Sometimes I’ll change the order of my set on the fly, or replace songs entirely, if I’m getting the vibe that people are feeling more mellow or more like partying or whatever. In between songs I’m always telling little stories or cracking jokes or asking questions. I think being able to deepen a connection with an audience in those ways can do so much to amplify their experience of your songs.

One influential singer, and what it is that makes them stand out to you.
Prince. Even stripping away everything else I admire and respect about him – the instrumental virtuosity, the charismatic performances, the prolific output – he is a genius with his voice. The range of power, emotion, texture, style – completely unparalleled.

Most important lesson you have learned about vocal health?
It’s hard to be TOO hydrated. Water and tea should be nearby always!

A question you wished we’d asked you – and your answer:
I don’t know what the question would be but it’s important for me to stress the value of hard work. Talent is often seen to be at the forefront, and luck is out of anyone’s control, but hustling daily is essential, and possible for everyone.


Andrew Huang produces about 100 songs a year in a huge range of genres. While he plays several instruments, he has become known for coaxing music out of unusual sources like balloons, water, and pants.

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