Ryan Welton

Sports + Digital + Music + Life

Category Archives: original music

The secret to small-channel YouTube growth? More about ‘subscriber’ than ‘creator’

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Combing through my October reports on YouTube, and one thing is clear: I did something right last month.

I’m a small-channel creator on YouTube. I have 755 subscribers as of this morning, and while we’re all chasing the elusive 1,000 mark for monetization (which is only part of that equation), we’re all chasing growth.

I’ve tried YouTube’s ad capabilities. It’s good for garnering mass amounts of views on the cheap, views from real people — but views without serious targeting and views with virtually no engagements.

We forget sometimes that YouTube is both a search engine and a social network.

One of the tactics Gary Vaynerchuk has always preached relative to Instagram is the ‘grind’ required to build audience by being a good platform participant — meaning that to grow an audience that provides your channel with real, quality engagement, you have to take the first step. You have to get into the comments.

You can’t just create for your platform.

You have to use it like a madman.

For the month of October, I got 4,165 views on youtube.com/ryanweltonmusic — up from 1,919, 1,418 and 2,053 the previous three months. On YouTube, however, “watch time” is the more important metric. My watch time for October was 4,207 minutes, up from 3,108, 1,703 and 3,288 the previous three months, respectively.

There are a couple of ways to increase watch time, the most obvious of which is to drive the number of views you get. That could mean creating more videos, more often. Another tactic is to create longer videos. But you can’t just create lengthier videos for the mere sake of doing so: folks won’t watch unless they’re getting value from your content.

Value can be information or entertainment, either or both.

What was a bit odd in my measurements for October was that my average duration-length-per-person was actually down — 1:00 versus 1:37, 1:12 and 1:36 respectively for the three months previous. That’s not as important as watch time overall is because YouTube’s mission is to cause folks to stay on the platform for more time each day.

Makes sense, right?

So, what did I do to drive that? First, I lucked out with a tutorial video. I created a “How to play ‘Rosanna’ by Toto” video that did really well for me. Despite the fact that five people smashed the “dislike” button, more than 1,550 people have watched the video at this point, and it has garnered a lot of minutes of watch time and, I suspect, provided some value to at least some viewers.

It helps to create content often and to create longer-form content. Check, check, check.

But it was what I started doing mid-month that really moved the needle both in terms of views, watch time and subscribes. Oh, let’s talk subscribes for a moment: I gained 28 new subscribers in October, my biggest gain probably ever. The previous three months, it had been -2, +3 and -2.

That felt really stagnant.

What I did was real simple, too. I became a YouTube junkie. I started looking for other musicians and songwriters, identifying compositions and performances I really liked — and then I did something utterly crazy.

I complimented them. Kindness.

So crazy it might work.

If I really liked their content, I subscribed. I didn’t ask for a subscription back, but I did try to provide value in my comment. That might mean that I made them feel good or that I gave them a tip. On one person’s channel, I ended up being their first subscriber. I subscribed, let them know I had done so and then offered some encouragement and a couple YouTube tips.

YouTube is a search engine. Your creations are index-able, and so are your comments.

The subscribes started pouring in.

But you know what else started to happen? I started gaining new YouTube friends. Like every other social media platform on the planet, that’s ultimately what their creators seek — the development of a community of users.

If you’re stuck on YouTube with no growth or slow growth, I’m here to tell you — your challenge might not be all about your content. It might be about how you use the platform. Spending 30 minutes a day participating as a viewer and commenter on other videos will do you a world of wonder on YouTube.

It is guaranteed to work. It’s natural. It’s totally aboveboard — and dare I say, it’s the way we’re supposed to do it all along.

Last but not least, here are my Top 10 videos for the month of October, in order of “watch time:”

youtube-top10-october-2018

YouTube songwriter discovery (Oct. 28): Emily Schultz, Andy Tunstall, Bill Fonner + more!

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Life as a YouTube creator has at least two parts: the creation and the participation. To grow a channel in 2018, one has to be as good a participator as they are a creator.

And that means commenting on other videos.

Being part of the community.

However, it can’t be shallow and spammy either. As a songwriter, I try to devote an hour or so every week to finding other songwriters on YouTube, and I’d like to start introducing you to them on my blog as well. I make it a point to only offer positive comments and only do so on songs or channels I really enjoy, as a means of offering other artists encouragement.

What you end up finding are a whole bunch of talented folks. Let me start you with my favorite find of the entire week, a young woman named Emily Schultz.

I’m just guessing that Emily already lives in Nashville or L.A. Vocally, she’s a lot like Colbie Caillat or something you’d hear in Little Big Town. However, my first impression of her was the same as when I saw Amy Winehouse or Tori Kelly for the first time — an immense talent. How she only has 70 subscribers on YouTube is shocking to me.

Shocking. Go subscribe now!

This is the song that caught my attention, and it showed up this week using the search term, “original song.”

That’s just fantastic. She’s clearly a pro. All three of them; the harmony is tremendous.

I’m guessing that most of the original songs I feature I out here aren’t written by “pros,” meaning not by people who make their living in music. I could be wrong though. Oh, before I forget, the other female singer and guitarist on the song is Alexandra Willett, and the young fellow is Jordan Hart.

The next tune I’m featuring is a song called, “I Break,” by a singer-songwriter named Andy Tunstall.

He’s based in the United Kingdom, but I was feeling a strong Kenny Loggins vibe. Kristi was sensing more of an Oasis’ Gallagher vibe.

Bill Fonner posted this one recently, a tune called “This Fire.” I really enjoyed the musicianship and his vocals, which remind me strongly of Gary LeVox from Rascal Flatts.

Speaking of soundalikes, I sensed a strong Darius Rucker-vibe from singer-songwriter Graham O’Connell. Of all the videos I stumbled upon in my new “original song” queries this week, his was the most developed. The tune is called, “Get A Life.”

There aren’t many original country writers on YouTube, not at least that I’ve found. I stumbled upon one guy who impressed me quite a bit both with his musicianship and vocals. The writing of all these people here is solid to boot.

The name = Chris Munson. The tune = “Let Her Be.”

Last but not least is a young guy named Matthew Robinson, and I ended up being his very first YouTube subscriber. Listening to his original song, “Stories of Dragons” evoked images of Ed Sheeran in my brain. I was particularly impressed with Matthew’s lyrical ability.

Is it a memory
Or Is it etched here in stone
Was it carved by our mother or one of our brothers
We couldn’t be here alone

So when the lights go out, what will you leave
you think you’re all alone, that’s way too hard to believe
when you stand on stone you didn’t lay

even told stories of dragons you didn’t slay

As for me, the little bit of positive participation on YouTube netted me 10-15 new subscriptions. It’s by a mile the most effective tactic I’ve ever used to build my audience on YouTube in a short period of time.

By a mile.

You can’t go into this effort expecting the people you say nice things about to subscribe to you, quid pro quo. In fact, you probably won’t even know who subscribed to you.

Instead, you have to go into this with the mindset of spreading positive influence on other creators worthy of a good word. That encouragement can be a big deal to somebody! It’s the right thing to do as a member of the YouTube community.

Ryan Welton just watched the Cleveland Browns lose again this week, which could be compounded by the Thunder starting 0-5 and the Dodgers being eliminated by Boston in the World Series. Not a great sports week — but it’s been an awesome week for him on YouTube. You can check him out at youtube.com/ryanweltonmusic

Ready to get a new keyboard, considering a Korg Kronos

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It’s been nearly two decades since I’ve bought a new keyboard. Seriously. I think I got my Yamaha S90 in Dallas back in the early 2000s, and I think I remember lugging that bad boy around to Bella La Blue gigs.

That Yamaha is the best performance keyboard I’ve ever had. The action on the keys is better than many pianos, and the sound, too. However, over the years, I’ve worn out the keys.

It’s time for a new musical play-thing, although I’m not going to trash the Yamaha!

I called around tonight, and I’ve found several people and businesses that can help me get the Yamaha S90 into tip-top shape again. It has a handful of keys in the lower register that stick. It’s still a terrific player piano, and it would make an awesome MIDI keyboard into my laptop using FL Studio or Logic Pro X.

Here are the recommendations I got for repairs in the Oklahoma City area:

  • Honest Ron
  • Protronics
  • Gear Exchange

But I’m in the market for a new keyboard, and I’m focused on a workstation. The three top-end workstations are the Yamaha Motif, the Roland Juno and the Korg Kronos. I’ve done some research on each, and I’m leaning strongly toward the Kronos. It’s not only because the 88-key model has weighted keys. It’s not only because it has digital out and the ability to import backing tracks.

It’s because I’ve been a life-long Korg user. I’ve owned an M1, an M3, a Trinity and a Triton — and when I say life-long, I mean since 1990. I’ve recorded dozens of songs on Korgs, and I got to where my production skills were quite good on the Korg, which has a workstation built in.

Back in the day, you just popped a hard disk into the board and saved your sequences there. I’m not sure how you do it now.

From a music production perspective, as a workstation, Korg has the reputation of having the absolute best sounds and the most studio-ready production combinations and patterns. It’s the Mac of keyboards.

It’s also $3,700.

If I weren’t confident that I’d be able to do some serious musical damage on that bad boy, I’d never consider getting it. Here are some of the tracks I did on my Triton, all posted to my YouTube channel:

“Anaheim Blonde”

“Cool Like Kelsey”

“Groovehappy People”

“Caribe”

I’m still going to get that Yamaha S90 fixed, but I’m pretty sure a new Korg Kronos is in my future.

Soon. Soon as we get Mom’s house sold!

Best new contemporary jazz sound comes from sax player Justin Young

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This is a totally self-serving post.

But if you enjoy contemporary jazz or smooth jazz and haven’t given saxophonist Justin Young a listen, do yourself a favor and check out his new album, “Blue Soul.” You’ll get to hear three tunes I wrote as well.

There’s the self-serving part!

Justin is currently based in Seattle, but I got to know him when he and his wife, Rachel, lived in Oklahoma City. She and I worked together at a TV station in town (not the one where I currently work). As soon as I found out that Rachel’s husband played sax, I sought out his music and was blown away — not only by his technical skill but also by his sound, which I found quite compatible with mine. When I write instrumentals, it’s often with a sax lead in mind, and I usually have had players like Dave Koz, Jeff Kashiwa, Steve Cole and many more in mind.

Luckily, I met Justin.

I immediately started combing through all my recordings in hopes of putting together a demo CD for him. The hope was that, maybe, someday, he might record one or two of them. It turned out that he liked many of them, and he and his dad hooked me up with recording equipment to start writing more, some of which you can hear on my SoundCloud channel.

That was an incredible opportunity for me because it allowed me to learn Logic Pro. I got pretty good at it, although I’m not a Mac guy and will probably have to start over with FL Studio soon on my new laptop.

Justin went into the studio, and I knew that he might use one or two of my tunes, but I didn’t know which ones. He ended up picking three, and was pleasantly surprised by two of the three he picked. The one I knew he’d pick was called “Sweet Release,” a tune I first put together about 15 years ago. He did an amazing job with it.

The first version here is the track I put together in Logic Pro, not the original original of this song that I did back in 2003. But I still kind of liked what I did. This was after only a week of tinkering around in Logic.

But then Justin killed it on the album version. Yowsa:

The first of the two tracks that surprised me was a song he ended up calling “Razzmajazz.” I called it “Moment of Indecision” when I wrote it 18 years ago. I’ll put my original up first and then his, and you can see just how much he and his team of musicians and producers livened it up. Wonderful job.

“Moment of Indecision”

“Razzmajazz”

And then the third track he included on the album is the title track, “Blue Soul,” a song I called “Night Things” when I originally put it together in 2000 or so. I wasn’t expecting this one to get picked, but Justin heard something in this composition and again blew it away on the album.

My version of “Night Things” here:

And then what Justin did as he turned it into “Blue Soul.” Amazing.

If you see this post, do me a favor and go follow him on Facebook or pay him a visit at justinyoungsax.com. If you happen to have Sirius XM, you can also hear Justin on Ch. 66, Watercolors.

 

This YouTuber kills it with a Casio on ‘Cheat Codes’

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My dad used to tell me you’re only as good as the piano you’re playing on.

Tell that to Stefan Abingdon — ST£FAN — on YouTube, whose fine work I discovered tonight — namely this awesome composition called “Cheat Codes,” done all with a Casio keyboard and a pocket operator.

The good stuff starts at :21. The guy has terrific flow and lyrical abilities, and he knows his video games to boot!

This video has only 2,130 views, which is the big problem with YouTube for non-corporate types these days. Stefan’s work is greatness and it’s been out there a month, and only 2,130 views. But like I wrote in my post about YouTube and community building, it takes way more than just posting music videos to cut through the noise on YouTube.

Marketing. Community building. Interaction. Social. Rinse, repeat, over and over.

As with any good rabbit hole, I started kicking the tires on Stefan’s channel and figured out pretty quick that he’s a hyper-talented dude. The “Cheat Codes” track wasn’t a one-trick pony. Take this song he plays with his dad called “Uncredible.” Stefan is a damned good musician (and so is his pops).

Side note: I’m totally buying a tambourine for my left foot.

I hope you’ll give his channel a visit and a subscription. I’ve been doing my ‘community work’ on YouTube for a couple days now, and he’s the first musician who’s inspired my creativity.

As always, I hope you’ll include me in your next YouTube rabbit hole. You can find me at youtube.com/RyanWeltonMusic

 

 

Yacht Rock Original: “Everybody’s Girl”

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I’ve loved all-things yacht rock before the genre even had a name. Christopher Cross, Toto, Boz Scaggs, Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins, Hall & Oates: love all of it.

And after 20 years I finally have a classification for all the music I write. Well, that and smooth jazz.

Here’s my latest. It’s a tune about a girl who is the ultimate people-pleaser. She’s “Everybody’s Girl.”

 

Oh, if you dig the song, please come subscribe to my YouTube channel. I post all sorts of stuff out there but try to keep it to all-thing smooooooth. My channel is YouTube.com/soonerryan2000

Lyrics below:

EVERYBODY’S GIRL (a yacht rock original) c. 2017, Ryan Welton

Verse 1: You talk about us, you never stop I can tell: my ears are ringing

You’re chirping here and you’re buzzing there I’d much rather hear birds singing

But if everybody talks, then nobody listens

To the words they say

Maybe I’d have a fightin’ chance some other way

 

Verse 2: I’ll meet you down at the club tonight

You can tell the boys you’re single

Wear that black dress that’s extra tight

I’ll observe you while you mingle

Pour me a whiskey

Hell, make it a double

Dance the night away

But I can’t pretend to be at ease while you’re at play

 

CHORUS: She’s everybody’s girl (everybody’s)

If you can be OK with her as everybody’s girl

Then go ahead and step inside her crazy, crazy world

There’s few who can survive it for long

Everybody’s girl

 

Verse 3: She looks at me but she dreams of him

That’s a constant game she’s playin’

She never says what she really means

Unless she punctuates, “Just sayin'”

Call her a phony

Or just a pretender

You can call me a fool

The girl plays with minds like she plays with hearts: no rules

CHORUS INTERLUDE CHORUS 2x

Ticket To Fly: #TBT ‘Smooth Jazz’ tune I had completely forgotten (video)

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I’ve failed to keep up with my YouTube comments and with the subject of this very blog, half of which is ‘Smooth Jazz.’ On the other hand, I did achieve what I set out to do at the beginning of the year — and that’s to re-start this blogging endeavor that I had so enjoyed some 10-15 years ago.

But it was a comment from a YouTuber named Hector that caught my attention tonight. He wrote on one song of mine that he was responsible for at least 50 of the 362 views of an original tune I posted called “Ticket To Fly.”

So, I responded with gratitude for sure…but then I had to listen to the song. To remember it.

This is “Ticket To Fly,” and I wrote it seven years ago. I’m not sure whether it’s more Steely Dan influenced or more akin to something I’ve heard from more straight ahead smooth jazzers such as Acoustic Alchemy, The Rippingtons or something like the Brand New Heavies.

Hope you enjoy it as much as Hector has, and I’d love it if you’d come check out my YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/soonerryan2000

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