DeStorm, Kurt Schneider, AJ Rafael Talk Success During 2013 ASCAP ‘I Create Music’ Panel [INTERVIEWS]

Some of YouTube’s biggest independent musicians talked about making it big in the industry during a discussion panel Thursday at the 2013 American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers “I Create Music” expo in Hollywood.

NMR friends DeStorm Power, AJ Rafael and Kurt Hugo Schneider spoke to hundreds of attendees alongside YouTube’s West Coast Head of Label Relations Ali Rivera and moderator Jonathan McHugh, founder of Song Stew Entertainment, as part of the panel titled “Using YouTube to Jump Start Your Music Career.” In front of hundreds of songwriters, musicians and music industry insiders, the panelists discussed topics ranging from creating music videos to how YouTube and social media have changed the way musicians make money.

When it comes to creating music and YouTube videos for his audience, DeStorm said: “It’s really a hard job to actually create. I wanted to learn every aspect of it. You kind of have to know — even if you’re not the best at it — to produce and direct your videos … you have to have every hand on every part [of the creative process].”

DeStorm also emphasized putting out as much content as possible, but also encouraged content curation “so subscribers won’t get lost.” Since he not only makes music but also vlogs and gives out fitness tips, he told the audience that he had to create three channels so he wouldn’t confuse and lose his subscribers.

As for Schneider, who is known for his popular YouTube video collaborations with Sam Tsui, Megan Nicole and Max Schneider, he emphasized that you don’t have to be star of the video in order to make a successful career with YouTube.

He said that it’s necessary for artists like him “to collaborate with lots of people” in order to make it work on YouTube. Schneider cited his collaborative video with Tsui featuring a Michael Jackson melody as an an example of how to do collaborations right. The video, which featured multiple Sam Tsuis on stage with Schneider overlooking, was originally supposed to feature multiple singers, but it was scrapped because of scheduling conflicts. It has so far garnered more than 30 million views on YouTube.

Schneider said about the video: “This is the first video for me that I really felt I can do something on YT for a living.”

In addition to creating music videos, the panelists talked about how YouTube is helping them generate revenue. Rafael jokingly tied his success on YouTube this way: “I measure my success on how much money I have to borrow from my mom. I haven’t borrowed money from my mom in five years.”

His success on YouTube has been personal for him, as his late father, also a musician, told his mom that he didn’t want him or his sisters to become musicians because of how hard it would be to create make a livable income.

He acknowledged that times have changed: “YouTube, Myspace, Twitter have made it possible to do this full-time.”

Besides creating content and making money on YouTube, the musicians also discussed how much their popularity has increased since their videos went viral. When it comes to how dedicated YouTube fans are, DeStorm told a story to the audience about a dare he made with Timothy Delaghetto: “I was in NYC at Central Park with [Delaghetto] and we started to tweet to see how many fans show up. I got 40, 50, 60 people. I peep up on my shoulder, and police are taking him away. Damn, I got to step my game up. Asian fans, you go hard.”

Check out the video above to see DeStorm, AJ Rafael and Kurt Hugo Schneider’s thoughts on the ASCAP panel.

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