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How To Be A Musician On YouTube feat. Courtney Hawkins

In this episode I talk to Courtney Hawkins about how to be a musician on YouTube. Courtney has an AWESOME YouTube channel doing music production and making beats, and has been featured by Native Instruments several times over the years. We talk about her path on YouTube, and what artists thinking about getting into YouTube could do to succeed.

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Important Points:

Courtney shares her experience with setting up her machina, which started as a way to help others who were struggling with the lack of helpful tutorial videos. Her efforts eventually created a community of followers.

Andrew and Courtney talk about finding a content gap and creating content that fits the audience’s interests. Whether you want to perform or educate, creating strategic content for yourself is key.

Courtney’s advice is to focus on creating content that you love, not worrying about others’ opinions. Staying positive and avoiding self-criticism can help you unlock your creativity.

Andrew and Courtney also discuss collaboration and branded content. They examined the advantages and disadvantages of sponsored content, emphasizing that artists and producers must choose brands that align with their values and goals.

Feeling uninspired? Courtney shared a tip to listen to music through a wall, which can spark new ideas.

Podcast Outline:

[01:05] Andrew and Courtney talks about how they met and connected – Andrew and Courtney

[01:57] Courtney talks about she started her YouTube channel and series Just a Girl with a Maschine because of her frustration with the lack of tutorials for Akai MPK minis – Courtney

[04:39] Andrew shares that the best types of content are the ones that fill the content gap on YouTube – Andrew

[05:33] Review of gear and software for musicians tend to drive high traffic for Andrew since there’s not a lot of YouTuber cover that content – Andrew

[07:04] What advice will Courtney give newcomers to YouTube? Find out first, do you want to educate your audience or perform for them? – Courtney

[08:39] Andrew and Courtney discuss how faceless, screen share videos on music software reviews get very low engagement – Andrew and Courtney

[09:16] Beat videos are hit or miss because it lacks the personality of the person making it – Courtney

[10:24] Both Andrew and Courtney shared how beat makers can make their YouTube videos more performative to engage the listeners and audience – Andrew & Courtney

[12:07] Courtney’s advice to an artist who sells beats and makes music:put it on your channel to show you can do both – Courtney

[13:59] She talks about how her strategy has always been organic, just making sure she releases music. Her beats and music ending in playlist is all word of mouth.- Courtney

[15:26] Andrew and Courtney discuss how she’s not focusing so much on her Spotify because of her strong YouTube community.- Andrew & Courtney

[16:44] Courtney shared her experience selling beats and how releasing new material every week can be stressful – Courtney

[18:04] Making sample packs is a more enjoyable experience for Courtney because of the creative freedom – Courtney

[19:24] Andrew shares how a sample pack music store makes a good moneymaker, but is very limiting creatively – Andrew

[21:26] Courtney shares that whenever she records music for Just a Girl with Her Machine, she only uses her Maschine – Courtney

[22:31] Andrew talks about he shifted to using Ableton to push things online and how it makes the workflow more seamless for him – Andrew

[24:50] Courtney’s native instrument collapse started from her reaching out to the people who noticed her work – Courtney

[26:13] Brands collaborating with Courtney usually come from her reaching out to like-minded ones – Courtney

[27:38] After she built her community on YouTube, Courtney is now in a place where she has to say no to some brands because it doesn’t fit her workflow or match her brand – Courtney

[29:27] Andrew advises musicians, artists, and producers to just reach out to brands, whether it’s for collaboration, review, etc.- Andrew

[32:31] For Courtney, one of the many challenges of doing too many sponsored videos is the  limitation of creativity – Courtney

[33:03] Andrew weighs in on how other YouTubers are also challenged with how some sponsored videos are too long and too scripted – Andrew

[34:38] Andrew and Courtney talk about how often they publish new videos. Courtney sticks to a once-a-week schedule (every Monday), and Andrew reserves weekends to socialize – Andrew & Courtney

[36:12] Andrew and Courtney share their experience of making music for themselves without the pressure of doing it for an audience – Andrew & Courtney

[39:07] Andrew shares tips for minimizing workflow and time spent by using one camera setup – Andrew

[41:14] Courtney’s Instagram grew from 2016-2019 because of direct messaging people who like the same thing as she is – Courtney

[41:49] Courtney decided to get back to a 9:00-5:00 job because of the financial stability it brings – Courtney

[43:40] Courtney and Andrew shared their experience from around 2017-2019 on personalization and using DM on Instagram and how it brings good engagement – Andrew & Courtney

[45:43] Courtney and Andrew tackle the spam detector on YouTube and how they use it to eliminate unwanted comments on their channel – Andrew & Courtney

[47:25] Courtney shares how her YouTube channel grew by focusing on enjoying the process of creating her videos – Courtney

[51:03] Living near a highway meant refining the audio workflow for Courtney and going through different microphones – Courtney

[52:30] Courtney uses isotope RX to take out the screeching sounds from trucks. – Courtney

[55:08] Courtney details her set-up: Camera Cannon 70D with a Sigma 18 to 35 mm lens. The camera facing her is the Canon ESR with Sigma 24 to 35 mm full frame lens. – Courtney

[56:05] Courtney’s light set-up is a regular softbox light facing her with the overhead lights turned. Then turns the overhead lights on, which she changes to any RGB colors – Courtney

[56:36] For post editing, she uses OBS for screen capture and synchs everything to Final Cut Pro – Courtney

[1:00] Courtney listens to all kinds of music, and she shares that she’s inspired by listening from music through a wall – Courtney

[1:08] Andrew and Courtney discussed avoiding the comment section to avoid distraction from what they want and need to do. Citing unnecessary arguments on using loops as an example – Courtney

[1:11] Andrew talks about women producers doing well in a male-dominated industry- Andrew

[1:14] Courtney came from Missouri, and Andrew mentioned the different places he’s been – Andrew & Courtney

[1:15] Courtney shares her hack when she hits a creative block: listen to music through the wall for a different perspective

[1:16] Andrew uses chord progression to inspire his work and getting inspiration from the music he likes- Andrew

Wise Words:  

[04:39] The best types of content are the types that no one else is doing because you’re filling an actual need and a gap in the YouTube content area. – Andrew

[11:00] So, show your personality. Show your setup, and you know, just do what you want to do and make the music that you want to make. Don’t make the music that you think people want you to make.- Courtney

[18:07] ‘Cause you know, when you’re working on beats, you have to have it front to back done. And when you’re working on loops, or you know, samples, you just have a little bit more freedom, and you can work on a lot more instead of being stuck on a beat for four or five hours.- Courtney

[21:34] I’m solely working a machine. Yes. So, everything that you see in the video is just  machine, nothing else. But as soon as I export all of my audio tracks. Then I drag them into Logic. And then I do the mixing from there and adding plugins, mastering, and all. That is done in logic.- Courtney

[37:14] A lot of people don’t realize how introverted most YouTubers are. Almost every single person that I know that does YouTube, they describe themselves as an introvert. And when I talk to them on Zoom or something, you know, or in person, it’s like, you can tell they’re way more chill than they are in, in their videos – Andrew

[1:21] We are usually overly critical of the music that we create. And oftentimes, for me, the songs that I don’t particularly enjoy the most other people love. – Courtney

Resources Mentioned:

  • Courtney’s YouTube – link
  • Learn how to grow on YouTube – link

Learn More:

If you enjoyed this interview you might also like this one I did with MMXVII, check it out!

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