The price of a music business education can seem out of reach to many aspiring industry hopefuls, but thanks to the rise of YouTube, there are a number of incredible and informative resources out there available for free. Here we look at five such channels that are a must for anyone in the music biz.
Guest post by James Shotwell of Haulix
Want the benefits of a music business education without the debt of student loans? YouTube is the answer.
YouTube channels are the new blogs. Actually, YouTube channels are better than most blogs. The content creators working on the video platform today can convey complex information in entertaining ways that create a more enjoyable learning experience for everyone. Whether you’re hoping to be the next music superstar or hope to work in the industry, YouTube is filled with experts offering the benefits of their experience and education without any of the cost or hard times.
For virtually nothing, anyone on the planet can access more hours of music business guides and criticism than any person could hope to devour in one lifetime. We haven’t tested that theory, but we’re pretty sure it’s accurate.
There are more than enough content creators releasing quality videos regularly on YouTube for everyone to find the channel(s) that suit their learning style the best. We could not hope to bring together all the channels worth checking out, but we have gathered a handful of picks that we believe to be worthy of your time. They offer everything from music criticism to history lessons, industry stories, and essential step-by-step guides to navigating the music business as a whole. Enjoy!
Finn McKenty is more punk rock than you. Lucky for us, he’s sharing his knowledge of punk and all things alternative with anyone willing to give him attention. Punk Rock MBA offers an in-depth look at the history of punk, rock, metal, and numerous niche areas of alternative/underground music, as well as lessons learned from important moments in music history. Most videos McKenty releases play like short documentaries, each with his unique perspective on a moment in music that more mainstream publications often overlook. He also recruits seasoned professionals to weigh in on the latest music from aspiring musicians, as well as commentary on the recent industry trends that may be shaping the future of the business.
McKenty is the perfect entry point for anyone new to YouTube, and also those hoping to improve their careers as musicians. As he explains on his channel’s about page, his goal is to offer “information, inspiration, and hopefully entertainment for people who want to live life on their own terms.”
Some of you may be questioning how a music critic ended up on a list intended for industry professionals. The answer is simple: Anthony Fantano (aka The Needle Drop) understands the digital generation. Unlike many of his industry careers, Fantano has found a way to connect with audiences in an increasingly saturated marketplace by sharing his informed opinions on a wide variety of music. His influence is so great, in fact, that numerous musicians have referenced his work in their own creative endeavors. For example, you may have seen Fantano’s animated cameo in the “Old Town Road” remix video from Lil Nas X featuring Young Thug and Mason Ramsey.
There are ten-thousand articles claiming that professional criticism is dead in the age of social media, but The Needle Drop is proof those hot takes are wrong. Fantano’s reviews often garner thousands of reviews within minutes of going live, and he’s using that platform to expose people to music they may otherwise have never given a chance. Anyone hoping to influence others through their work in music would be wise to follow The Needle Drop because no one else in this business has done nearly as good of a job building a community around their voice as Anthony Fantano has accomplished with his channel.
James Shotwell wants to do everything before his time in music is done. After opening a venue in his hometown with a grant from the city council at fourteen, Shotwell tried his hand at everything from touring to promotion before he even graduated college. Since then, he’s written for some of the biggest publications in music (including Alternative Pressand Rolling Stone), ran a record label, traveled with Warped Tour, spoken at major industry events (SXSW, LAUNCH Music Conference, Music Biz), and spread the word about the power of promotional distribution.
On Music Biz, which is powered by Haulix, Shotwell shares his knowledge on how professionals and musicians alike can build a successful career in the entertainment business. He also explains the stories behind the biggest headlines in the music industry, as well as in-depth conversations with a wide array of industry professionals.
Sean Taylor is a music branding and marketing expert who, according to his website, is‘working to build a platform that closes the knowledge gap for aspiring artists’ On his Youtube-channel, Sean shares information about branding, growing your career and building a fan base. His focus usually revolves around the hip-hop and rap genres, but the lessons shared can easily be applied to any area of music.
What we love about Taylor’s content is his energy and the way he often utilizes the knowledge of other industry professionals to make the most of the topics he discusses. Whether that means pulling content from his own podcast or referencing quotes made by musicians in other interviews, Taylor grounds his lessons in examples pulled from the real world. That approach makes it clear that anyone can succeed in this business as long as they are willing to put in the work required to get ahead.
Talk about a music business education without the burden of student debt. Berklee Online is the official YouTube channel of Boston’s iconic Berklee College of Music. With world-renowned faculty and unparalleled networking opportunities, Berklee Online brings the best of Berklee to students around the globe, for free.
More than any other channel on this list, Berklee Online offers an education portal for those unable or unwilling to pay for school. They do post about courses available through them, but the majority of the videos offer industry advice and analysis from experts that other content creators could never reach. The content shared by Berklee Online is polished, informative, and above all entertaining. You don’t want to miss out.