A Musician’s Perspective On Quitting YouTube

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Have you seen all these videos lately about YouTubers quitting?

I’ve been watching a few myself, and then I came across Rick Beato’s 10 minute completely unedited monologue about how he finds them very fascinating.

He mentions in his video that he thinks part of the issue that is stressing people out so much is that they hold themselves to a very strict schedule and get too caught up in the performance and number of views on their videos.

And while I agree with those things, something about this whole stress quitting thing occurred to me.

Don’t Worry, I’m not Quitting YouTube

First, I am not quitting or even thinking about it. While I do get stressed as a full time YouTuber while running a growing business, I also have the freedom to take days off if I need them.

My job immediately before becoming a full time YouTuber and later manufacturer of saxophone products, was a full time performing musician.

I always considered myself somewhat lucky to be able to make a living with music and playing the saxophone but that meant, taking every gig that came my way, and earning a lot less money compared to other careers I could have chosen.

When this YouTube channel started working for me and people started buying my courses and now saxophones and mouthpieces, believe me I felt, and continue to feel extremely lucky.

Sure, I do work very hard, but I enjoy the work and really appreciate the increased stability this job gives me.

You see, while running a YouTube channel is not terribly stable since you are at the whim of the algorithm and all that, being a professional musician is about as unstable of a career as you can think of.

So all those years, living gig to gig, not having heath insurance and no retirement savings prepared me for what is now in my view a pretty cushy job in comparison.

Psychological Pressure of Performing

Another pain point for quitting YouTubers is the psychological pressure of how well their videos perform.

It occurred to me that I would be much more embarrassed to mess up playing the saxophone on stage in front of 50 people, than if a video I upload to YouTube flops.

Music as a profession can be quite harsh, and we never seem to live up to the expectations we musicians put on ourselves.

I suppose that is another way music has thickened my skin a bit. As a musician you have to learn to deal with failure on multiple levels. And we get a lot of practice at failing that most people don’t get.

Then it occurred to me that there is somewhat of a parallel between YouTubers quitting and musicians.

Musicians Sometimes Quit

Because as a job, it’s really hard, and the money sucks, and you don’t have a retirement plan, or affordable health insurance (if you live in America), musicians sometimes quit. Your fellow musicians you rely on might let you down, and as you get older, it gets harder and harder for a lot of reasons.

But, at the same time, for most professional musicians, playing music is something they can’t live without. So while you may have all the reasons in the world to quit and just find something easier and better paid to do, you can’t.

Rick Beato said that he enjoys making his videos, doesn’t hold himself to a strict schedule and doesn’t care how many views they get, I’m sure that all contributes to his well being, but he did not mention that compared to everything he did earlier on in his career as a musician, YouTube has got to be a walk in the park.

I will say, that something all the quitting YouTubers didn’t talk about but probably has a big impact on their decision to give up, is all the asking people to subscribe and hit the like button. How annoying is that?

YouTube figured out how to reward the viewers with a little extra dopamine for this by making the buttons light up when you click them so go ahead, enjoy yourself and click the like button and subscribe while we are all throwing ourselves at the mercy of our algorithmic overlords.

Music is hard but rewarding

The point of this video is that music is hard, but it teaches us a lot, and the rewards we musicians get for all that hard work are mostly measured in things that don’t go in our bank accounts.

So while being a YouTuber with millions of subscribers might be hard, you’re not going to get a lot of sympathy from musicians.

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