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Why I Stopped Reviewing Music Gear

Mar 23, 2024
A couple weeks ago, I saw this thread from a fellow artist I know and respect from Instagram.
As someone who has made my share of gear-centered content, I understand this sentiment.
When I first got serious about my YouTube channel a couple years ago, my first thought was, "well, I like synths, so I'll talk about that."
I thought that by showing how I used the gear I already had, I could reach more people with my music.
This theory's premise was that marketing is just understanding human psychology. And humans are fundamentally selfish.
This isn't a judgement, it's a reality.
When I look up a synth on YouTube, it's to get a better idea of how I might use it. That's why I'm there.
But many creators find themselves stuck in a permanent state of product demonstration. If that's what they want to do, that's great. But many of us are artists first, and this isn't the position we imagined for ourselves.
So how do we get others to care about what we've made or what we actually care about most?
Why I Quit "GearTube"
In a way, my channel and business are working off of the same philosophy as the gear makers. People are selfish.
This is why they have creators make videos featuring their gear. To showcase how people might use it themselves.
This is why you're reading this newsletter - I make it with the intent to help you.
That's a natural thing.
Today, instead of showcasing a piece of gear, I showcase how I use compositional concepts. And the foundation of that is my own music.
But why make that shift?
When I started to gain some traction and get more views with the synth/gear reviews, that thing started to happen. People started to reach out to me to review their gear.
Cool! As someone who loves music gear, this seemed great.
It didn't take long for me to realize that I didn't enjoy this cycle of keeping up with product releases. The pay was either non-existent or not worth the time it took to make the videos. And I ended up feeling obligated to do things I wasn't excited about.
A tipping point occurred while I was collaborating with a larger channel. I had to demonstrate something and make some music to that end. They told me "not to worry too much about the music itself. It didn't have to be anything special."
This made me realize how far removed from my original purpose this world of "geartube" truly was.
I believe that music has far more value than simply a means to demonstrate a piece of gear.
The music was the reason I used the gear in the first place.
So, I stopped.
I decided to take a chance. I would focus on my process of making music, not just the tools I used.
This still allows me to bring more people to my music than my music would alone. But, I get to talk about how I make the music I'd be making anyway.
Does everyone who finds my channel love my music? Absolutely not.
That's good.
I would much rather make music some people hate and some people love than music everyone is indifferent about.
But the fact is, my music career has seen a bump due to the kinds of videos I make now. Because I focus on MY WORK in the videos, not a piece of gear.
The two work together much more seamlessly than they did when I was demoing gear and sending traffic to an affiliate link.
Can music stand on its own?
For my theory to work, there was one necessary ingredient - my music had to stand out in the videos.
I had the benefit of focusing solely on my own music and building a career for many years before I started making videos. This gave me an advantage in this area.
This is an important concept. Many people see the view counts on "geartube" and assume those views will help their music.
This isn't the case by default.
There is no substitute for focusing on the craft.
I'm again reminded of a quote from one of my piano teachers. "I don't know anyone who is an exceptional player who didn't spend some period of time intensely focused on mastering the fundamentals."
She was trying to get me to practice my scales, but this applies to everything else in life.
Because everyone has the opportunity to be heard online today, many never stop to ask themselves if they have anything of value to say.
There's a greater focus on "gaming the system" than conveying something of value.
The more value we have to offer through unique life experiences or skills, the more we can use content as a vehicle to deliver that value. Otherwise, it's easy to feel like the content is using us as another cog in the wheel.
Shifting to timeless topics
There's so much burnout online, and I take that seriously as a cautionary tale. To do this for a long time, I must stay interested in the topics I talk about in my videos.
In such a fast paced world of hype and trend chasing, I've found so much relief in shifting my focus to TIMELESS concepts.
These concepts I talk about have no release dates. No deadlines. No expectations from external sources.
For example, many of you are here because you downloaded my Composition eBook.
I made that eBook over a year ago, and to this day it still brings hundreds of people to this email list every month.
That eBook will still be as relevant this time next year as it is today. It will still be as relevant 10 years from now.
The internet can be a rat race, but no one is forcing you to take the cheese.
Finding unique ways to make timeless concepts interesting has been the key for me.
If you build from that foundation, you build something that doesn't rely on new products or trends.
You build something with perennial staying power.
If you are interested in digging deeper into my process and the concepts I talk about, my Composition Course giveaways have been so popular I'm going to give away a copy each month.
To enter this month's giveaway, just CLICK HERE
Whenever you're ready, here's how I can help you:

1. Composition Concepts for Artists - an in-depth look at the process of composition with step-by-step examples SHOWING how and WHY I make decisions. You'll learn to take an initial idea and DEVELOP it into a finished project.

2. Understanding Synthesis - learn to design your own sounds starting with the basics of subtractive synthesis and progressing to more advanced sound design  with semi-modular and various forms of digital synthesis.

3. YouTube Membership - monthly livestreams featuring music making and sound design in real time. Q&As and exclusive videos only available to channel members.

4. One to One Coaching (coming soon) - work with me on YOUR own music. I'll help you take your track from idea to finished product, so you'll come out with a polished track or EP and any knowledge gained from walking through the process with me.