Author: Zuniga, Nancy

YouTube - Connecting Your Songs With the World

We've all heard this in one jam or another. The music may roll along for hours, with an emphasis on traditional bluegrass music, when some brave soul will announce shyly (or not), “I'd like to sing a song that I wrote.” Even in a jam where the emphasis isn't on the tried, true, and traditional, it takes a certain amount of courage to put something one has written out there for others to hear.

I've been impressed by the quality of songwriting among our CBA members. To name only a few: Cliff Compton, Van Atwell, George Ireton, Ron Hibdon, Yoseff Tucker, Snap Jackson have all shared original compositions that rival (or, in my opinion, often exceed) the caliber of many songs that have achieved commercial success. But the truth be told, commercial success isn't really what it's about for most of us who write original songs. Of course, nearly anyone who has put words and notes together has fantasized, however briefly, on what it would be like to write the next “Rocky Top” which would ensure a comfortable retirement. But for the majority of amateur songwriters, the realvalidation is in knowing that something you have written has resonated with someone else. When I first began writing songs, most of my compositions were deliberately humorous. Somehow, the funny songs seemed “safer”, as they didn't involve baring of the soul. If the listener thought the tunes were goofy, it was no big deal; they were intended to be. But after awhile, the silly songs weren't satisfying, and I began to write songs of a more serious nature. I was genuinely surprised when I found that some people actually liked what I had to say even when I wasn't kidding around.

Than, in 2005, along came YouTube. When I first learned of the YouTube phenomenon, I was stuck with a slow dial-up Internet connection and could only feel pangs of envy as I read on the CBA Message Board and elsewhere about the cornucopia of videos available for viewing on that web site. When at last I joined the 21st Century and obtained a high-speed connection, a whole new world opened up to me. My first timid entry into the world of YouTube had nothing to do with music; I uploaded a 16-second video clip entitled “Climbing Kitten”, recording for posterity my new kitten as he scaled my leg. It would be nearly a year before I worked up the courage to post a video of myself singing one of my originals songs.

The potential YouTube audience is vast beyond belief. A few well-chosen key words in the video description may grab the attention of someone on the other side of the country...or the globe. People are allowed to rate and leave comments on YouTube videos, and so far, most folks have been kind to me, or at least they haven't been brutal. (A teenager in Japan commented on one of my songs: “You go, grandma.”) I've been touched by comments from folks who reached out to tell me that something I wrote expressed what they were feeling or reminded them of a time or place from their past.

Not only is YouTube a great way to get your own stuff out there, but it's a wonderful resource for learning about and enjoying the talent of other largely undiscovered songwriters and musicians who have a lot of worthwhile material to share. A case in point is a talented young singer/songwriter in West Virginia by the name of Stacy Grubb, and her equally talented songwriting dad Alan “Cathead” Johnston. Although I consider these folks to be as good as anyone out there, they have yet to hit the “big time”, and I would never have heard of them had it not been for YouTube.

I would urge anyone with a penchant for creating original material to take advantage of YouTube and get your music out there. It's a great resource, it's free, and most likely you will connect with some fine folks along the way. And you never know...some talent scout just might be looking for the writer of the next “Rocky Top.”

Posted:  1/7/2010

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