January 31, 2023

You’ve been practicing in your bedroom, the garage, and the basement.  You’re ready for Madison Square Garden and the 300-city tour.  All you’re missing is the chance, the fans, the promoter, a record deal, fame, and fortune.  Years ago, your best hope was to strap your guitar on your back and hitchhike to New York, Los Angeles, or Nashville.  But now there’s YouTube.  Forget the 30,000-seat football stadium concert.  On YouTube, your performance can be viewed by millions, including the promoter of your next gig.

So you need to create a top-quality video for YouTube.  How do you make it stand apart from the gazillion others?  You can’t rely only on your talent, no matter how phenomenal it may be.  You need technology.  But don’t despair.  You don’t have to stop being an artist and turn into a computer geek.  There’s a finite number of things you’ll need:

  • Audio recorder
    Here’s probably where you’ll want to pull out the stops and go with the best you can afford.  Through all the costumes and sets and glitz and glam, you want to sound great.  There’s a huge variety of digital audio recording equipment on the market.  Do a little homework and buy the best you can.
  • Editing software
    Most computers now come with this.  Consider recording the sound and picture separately to take advantage of the best in audio recording equipment; many video recorders aren’t made for optimal sound.  A simple clap at the beginning of the performance will provide an audio/visual reference point for synchronizing the final edited version of your video.
  • Camera
    Use your webcam or upgrade for surprisingly little money.  Cameras, like audio equipment, start cheap and go up, up, up according to complexity.  Remember that heavy HD files must be compressed to play on YouTube, so factor compression software into your budget if you go with high-tech video equipment—which is recommended to transcend the grainy, blurry look.
  • Computer
    Most common computers, including laptops, can handle video editing, but make sure that yours will.  Your mom’s IBM 460 from 1990 that she uses for recipes won’t cut it.

Now that you’ve researched the brands and models and purchased your equipment, opened all the boxes, and read all the instructions, back up a minute.  Sit down with your guitar and think.

How do you want your video to look?

Stainless steel and glass?

Flowers and trees?

Leather and lace?

Whatever the camera sees will be in your video, so plan your set.  Pitch the muddy tennis shoes in the corner; move the trash can out of the room.  Read up a bit on lighting techniques.  Think about how you’re going to dress.  Enlist a friend to hold the camera and give input on how you’re coming across.  Then remember—it’s your video.  You can do as many takes as you want until it’s perfect and ready for the world to see on YouTube.

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