T.S. Miller’s creative acoustic YouTube channel boasts 5.5 million views and 50 thousand subscribers. He is loved for his genteel blend of blues and folk covers and loops.
He reveals how he made YouTube fit his style and shares his advice for the next generation of internet stars.
What drew you into the world of YouTube?
A few of my friends had started posting videos of them performing music on YouTube. I found it fascinating how so many people outside of our circle of friends had seen their videos and in seeing the reach and community created around these videos that they were creating and uploading, I knew it was something that I wanted to be a part of with my own music.
What do you love most about sharing your music online?
I think the amazing thing about sharing music on YouTube is that there really is a global audience. The constraints of space and time don’t apply when trying to reach listeners and build an audience – what you put online could reach someone all the way across the world just as easily as it could reach someone right down the street.
Do you do live performances as well?
I do, but I think I’ll always prefer just playing music around the house or with friends. I actually think performing for YouTube has a close, intimate feel that’s more similar to playing around the house with friends than it is to performing live in-person for a large audience.
Do you have any advice for YouTube newbies?
If you’re trying to build a YouTube audience for the first time, think about how people are going to find your music. There are so many videos out there, how is somebody going to find yours? Consider collaborating with other musicians who may have a YouTube following already, or releasing music that is timely which people may be searching for.
A tip on the technical side of the process?
Don’t forget the importance of good lighting for your videos. A cheap camera can perform beautifully in a space that is well lit and an expensive camera can perform terribly in a space with poor light.
A tip on ‘performing’ in the YouTube venue?
Even though you may be performing to a camera, remember that there’s always going to be someone sitting on the other side. It’s up to you to connect with them.
Your videos look great – what equipment do you use?
For the video, I usually shoot with Canon 5D MK III’s using a variety of lenses, from a 50mm 1.4 to higher end L-series lenses. For audio, I use a Rode NT2-A mic into an M-Audio FastTrack Ultra USB that’s connected to my MacBook Pro.
How can singers produce professional videos on a budget?
But as much as I love the equipment that I work with, I would say make the most of what you have and what you have access to. Most smartphones have incredible cameras, and some libraries and schools rent out cameras and tripods. I shot my first videos on a little Flip video camera and then worked my way up to DSLRs and other high end video cameras. It’s an iterative process, so don’t be afraid to smart small and work your way up.
What do you wish you had known when you first started posting videos on YouTube?
Think about how you can post content and contribute to the YouTube community on a consistent and regular basis. Find something that works for you so that your audience will know when to expect new content, but will also provide enough time for yourself to put your videos together to your full satisfaction.
T.S. Miller is a musician rooted in folk and blues, but often found exploring the world of pop music. You’re just as likely to hear him performing unplugged around a campfire as you are to hear him performing with a loop pedal on YouTube.