He’s a singer and a guitar teacher who was surprised by his success on YouTube.
Mitchell Emmen started a YouTube channel in just a few years ago and now he’s up to 40,000 subscribers and over a million views.
We asked him to share his top insights on building a fanbase, equipment and what it takes to reach out on YouTube.
What inspired you to start making YouTube videos?
When YouTube started getting bigger and popular, I noticed lots of people uploading videos of themselves singing their favorite songs. But most of them sang in just one particular genre. Some did only rock, some did only pop etc. So I wanted to try something new, I was like “what if I sang songs of ALL my favorite genres?”
How do you choose your songs?
I really love to challenge myself. So if I think of a song to cover, I want it to have something that makes me think, “how am I supposed to sing that?!” Better to try new things than to stay in the safe zone and be uncreative.
Was there a particular thing that helped you reach a larger audience?
–Responding to audience requests. That way you show them that you actually care enough to read their comments or messages.
Do you prefer live gigs or videos?
I can’t really choose between playing live or making a youtube video. Both make me happy and keep me motivated. In the end it’s about having fun and giving people a great time.
Any tips on the technical side of video making? What gear do you use?
The best tip I can give is “don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be.” Your voice or instrument is the one thing that makes the video – Like a chef presenting the main platter.
Point taken – but do tell us about the gear.
You don’t have to buy super expensive equipment to make a decent recording or video. Just spend time getting to know your gear and practice. Once you become handy in it, start recording. I started with a phone camera, cheap dynamic mic, audio interface and free recording software.
What do you have now?
My home studio is basically a good stereo Audio Interface, Studio Condenser Microphone, Laptop, Audio Recording Software, A High Definition camera and Video Editing Software BUT
Most important lesson you have learned about social media?
People on the internet rain on your parade without any hesitation. In the end, most of them are just people that don’t have the guts to prove they can do better. Don’t let those people get to you.
Is that easier said than done?
If you are confident about your talent, don’t be afraid to show it to the world. The “haters” are a small group – the people who like and appreciate what you do are way more numerous. Do it for them and more importantly: DO IT FOR YOURSELF.
Do you ever reply to the haters?
Be the bigger person and don’t reply to them. That’s just what they are aiming for.
What ingredients are essential for a great vocal performance?
Get a really good warm up. Before recording, do some vocal exercises for about 20 minutes or more. Never ever start out cold; you’ll ruin your voice or damage it. If you can’t reach the note you want, just stop and practice. Don’t force it out.
So, your recording sessions are vocally demanding?
I already know that I’m not able to sing a difficult song in one take. It takes a few. Your voice needs to be ready to handle a long period of singing. Drink lots of water and try again and again. Don’t drink any sweet stuff, alcohol or milk. It’ll just make it sound raspy, and not in a good way.
Current favorite youtube artists? Any newcomers to look out for?
My favorite is director and producer James Rolfe from Cinemassacre. He plays the role of The Angry Videogame Nerd in his videos and is simply hilarious! Others are: James Rolfe (director/actor), Richi Rich (rapper), Alex McMillan (singer) and Jasmine Clarke (singer)
Mitchell Emmen never thought he was going to be a musician. As a child he dreamed about being a soldier, but when he was twelve, his sister took guitar lessons and after a while he became interested. It was then that he gave up skateboarding and the Military dream. He made a YouTube channel in 2009 and uploaded his first cover video and people liked it – he hasn’t stopped.