Full-time college sophomore and part-time YouTuber Jon Cozart has been getting a major amount of press lately surrounding the success of his latest YouTube parody video “After Ever After.” Since it’s upload 17 days ago, the video has acquired over 6.4 million views and has left fans asking for more Disney magic to be sent their way. In the video, Cozart shares what happens to Belle, Ariel, Jasmine and Pocahontas after their fairytale Disney endings. Hint: beastiality, terrorism and oil spills.
And while “After Ever After” has really put Cozart on the map, he has been a YouTube creator for the past five years making videos that blend humor and Cozart’s classical piano training. He began writing and producing his own music for his channel in middle school as a hobby but did not start taking his channel seriously until the end of high school when he began uploading on a consistent basis. Now a full-time film student, Cozart is working on balancing his coursework with his YouTube videos, which can take him up to four months each to create. Catching up with Cozart between classes, he shared with NMR the mindset he goes into every video with, how his Disney parody videos are helping him with the ladies and his thoughts on what can make a viral video.
When did you first start playing music?
Jon Cozart: When I was little, my grandma says I hummed Disney in the cradle before I could speak. No, I hummed gospel — that’s it — ‘cause I was really religious when I was little and stuff like that. Then I took classical piano lessons for a really long time and then I quit that in high school, so that’s pretty much all the music training I’ve had.
Did you have recitals?
Oh yes, God. Those were the worst. My hands would get super freezing cold and sweaty and then, you know, when you’re playing piano that’s not good. It was just a really negative experience, and I was honestly the only white kid there which sort of bothered me. That was a little strange.
When did you start writing your own stuff?
Well actually, I first started writing piano music when I was young but I didn’t write lyrics till about high school, and then I would write these really elaborate love songs to the girls I liked which are actually super embarrassing, and I would like play them for them. It was like this huge romantic gesture, and that’s when I started really writing lyrics and other music. Of course it was totally embarrassing and never worked, but it got me to write music and started dabbling in lyrics, so it’s okay.
How would the ladies react when you were serenading them?
Well, I imagine it’s like if your little brother was playing you a nice little song. That’s how they reacted, like, “Oh it’s so cute,” and then that’s about all it got me. But I think now I’m having redemption because for some reason parodying Disney songs is working.
So you’re raking in the ladies with those Disney parodies?
Actually, today there was a girl from my class — she is from Britain — and she asked me if I would want to hang out with her, and I was like, “Oh sure.” So I mean, she asked me, which is another embarrassment, but you know that’s sort of a date-ish. I’ll count it in my world. I hope she doesn’t see this — that would be really awkward.
When and why did you first begin creating content on YouTube?
I first started making videos when I was in middle school, and I made them for my classes. I would upload them and my classmates would watch them, and they were pretty bad up until two years ago I decided to start really taking them seriously at which point I started trying to understand viral, what was popular, things like that. So about two years ago I really started hammering away at successful formats and things like that.
What have you learned along the way, especially in the past two years?
I think the biggest thing I have learned is that there isn’t a formula. You sort of have to go into every project as if it is going to fail and just expect it to fail, and then if it succeeds, you know, the best case scenario I guess.
What has been your favorite video to create?
I really enjoyed writing “Harry Potter In 99 Seconds.” It was probably the most creative and fun time I’ve had writing a song and I just wrote it in like a week. Just the whole week I was having a ball, so that’s probably been the most fun to make and this recent one “After Ever After” was really fun to record, like the music was really fun to make. It’s Disney so I had a blast.
What is your creative process like from writing the song all the way to when you finally upload it onto your channel?
Oh gosh, I’d say depends on the video; it varies. This video probably took me about three or four months. Writing it took me about three weeks I think and then recording the audio, since it’s just a four-minute acapella music — my voice is throughout the whole thing — it took me a good month and a half to record the audio. It’s super tedious; I arrange everything by ear so if I screw something up even a little bit, I just have to go back and re-record it, like really tedious. Filming took a day, editing took a day, and then the release took a day obviously, so the hardest part is the audio.
What are the challenges of being a one-man acapella team?
The challenges, I don’t know how to arrange music very well; I’ve never been trained in that way so I just have to kind of sort it and copy it, so that’s the biggest challenge. Also the biggest challenge is it takes four months for me to make a video, so I know my audience really hates that but I can’t go any faster.
What are you working on right now for your channel?
Right now I’m doing interviews and things like that. I’m talking to agents and companies and seeing where my future is going to lie, ‘cause this has been a huge platform for me, this latest video. But my next video I don’t know. I have a lot of ideas. I think I want to do another one on Disney, maybe Disney villains I’m thinking about it. I also might want to cover some music and put a new spin on it, like popular music, and that’s where I think I’ll go.
Would you want to go into music professionally if this panned out? Is that something you’d consider or are you thinking more film?
I don’t think music is in my future; I never thought I had a really strong voice — it’s just okay. It does what I need it to do, and that’s it, so I don’t know if music is my career, but making films, I think that is a really interesting job to have.
If you could collaborate with any artist alive or dead who would you pick?
Mozart? Sure, I mean I listen to classical music all the time — although no, Stephen Sondheim, that’s it. I’d want to collaborate with Stephen Sondheim.
And if you were to date any cartoon character, who would you pick?
Any cartoon character? Maybe a human version of Sandy Cheeks from “SpongeBob.” “SpongeBob” is the bomb — I’ll go with that one.
What advice would you have for creators on YouTube trying to establish a platform for themselves?
My advice would be just keep making content, because I failed for five years, I didn’t understand what YouTube was or understand what kind of audience I was going to have until I made content. I’ve had a lot more failures than I have had success stories, so I’d say just keep making stuff, and if they like it, they’ll come, and if they don’t, they’ll move onto something else.
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