Ryan Welton

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Tag Archives: smooth jazz

YouTube channel update: The YouTube growth struggle is real.

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A few days ago, somebody noted that they enjoyed seeing me play the piano online, and I gave a jumbled nonsensical reply about trying to master YouTube, which is at once the truth but not nearly as effective as just saying, “Why, thank you!

Everything I’ve been doing over the past 4-6 months online, personally, has been about trying to figure out which platforms I could possible master, which I’d want to master and which I should just forget about, personally, not professionally. With work, there are platforms such as Instagram and Twitter that I need to conquer for work purposes, but I’m especially passionate about YouTube.

But, damn, is it a grind these days.

When I started in 2007, it took me a while, and then it kind of blew up. And then I stopped making videos after YouTube started cracking down on cover songs. It’s like my willingness to execute is never matched by a vision for where the platform is going — and in this case, as of March 18, 2018, I’m convinced that YouTube is the new gold rush.

It’s where stars will be made.

It’s where businesses will be made.

It’s where experts will be made.

Even beyond FaceTwitaGram, YouTube is the platform where I’d tell an ambitious person to start their quest. It’s important to do the others to the extent that you can, but YouTube has the biggest upside. Just my opinion.

But I sure have gone nowhere the past six months, although it’s not for lack of trying.

I tried vlogging some piano tutorials.

I tried vlogging about Big Brother.

And I’ve tried doing some personal vlogs.

Oh, and I’ve done more covers of pop songs, old 80s songs and whatever I can knock out pretty quickly, trying to replicate some success I had last year with The Weeknd’s “I Feel It Coming,” which garnered me 13,000-plus views and probably accounted for most of the 100 or so new subscribers I’ve gotten over the past year.

Branching out hasn’t been the answer so far.

So I’m returning to the original niche that propelled me in the late 2000s: smooth jazz or contemporary (c-jazz). When I uploaded “Step To It” in 2007, I had no idea it would soon exceed 160,000 views. Of course, I attribute that mostly to the great sax work of Oklahoma City’s own Chris Hicks. However, I’ve had a modicum of success with other instrumentals.

And I go back to what Gary Vaynerchuck always says about documenting the journey. Well, this is my journey, kind of back to square one in terms of narrowing my scope of YouTube production back to smooth jazz, some covers and personal vlogs, most of which will probably have something to do with music.

I also decided to put a little money behind what I’m doing, so I set up a few $1-per-day ads on four of my most popular songs. I’m not that well versed on what makes a particularly successful AdWords campaign, and the AdWords system doesn’t let me target nearly as narrow as I’d like. For this campaign, which stretches over four songs, I’m only able to target “music lovers.” There is no “likes smooth jazz” selection, although I might be able to associate some demographics with that tendency.

For now, I’m just gathering data and telling you what I’m doing.

Oh, and I figured out how to add a watermark to all the videos on my channel. That was pretty easy, although I’m not sure how effective it will be. And last but not least, here are the songs I’ve put money against. We’ll see how they do after a couple weeks.

And I’ll report back.

“Step To It” by Ryan Welton featuring Chris Hicks


“Nocturnal” by Ryan Welton featuring Chris Hicks


“Cool Like Kelsey” by Ryan Welton


“Vibe” by Ryan Welton featuring Eric Montgomery

 

 

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.

 

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

The Weeknd: A smooth jazz interpretation

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Since I re-started posting videos to YouTube late last year on the knowledge that I could once again post cover songs, I’ve been looking for songs to cover. Given that I’m a electronic piano-loving creature of the late 70s and early 80s, finding music from today that could fit my style is tough.

Enter a fellow they call The Weeknd. His real name is Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, and he hails from Canada. But he channels Michael Jackson in all the good ways. Smooth. Easy on the ears. “Off the Wall”-era MJ.

His latest single, “I Feel It Coming,” has been racing up the charts the past few weeks. I’ve been enjoying it on my run for months now, however, and I’ve been struck by how atypical it is for pop music in 2017.

Again: in all the good ways.

So, after I got home from work a few nights ago, I sat down to the keys and figured out the chords and melody. Its foundation is Eb-Ab-Bb with a lot of Gm7-Cm7 in between. Super easy to learn from a technical perspective, but it’s a wee bit trickier to maintain the smooth groove from the record itself.

If you enjoyed my rendition, I hope you’ll stop by my YouTube channel and check out more of my covers and original songs!

PHOTO: Courtesy of “The Come Up Show,” via Flickr’s Creative Commons.

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