Musicians: How & Why to use Video in Your Teaching & Marketing

It’s not about about how many people watch your videos. It’s about having the ability to show the right people, when the time is right, what they need to know about you.

If you’re a musician or music teacher, read on to discover how using video can benefit your music, teaching, and business, and what has worked for me on my road to almost  2,000,000 views on my YouTube channel.

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Making videos is important for your growth and improvement as an artist.

The best and easiest way to improve your work as a musician or teacher is to record yourself and listen back.

The reason for this is that our ability to observe ourselves. We can’t generally observe our performance while we are performing.  Listening or watching back allows us to understand the mistakes we are making in our performance that we could not have realized otherwise, which pays off in future performances when we are more easily able to notice and fix them. 

Many people are uncomfortable with watching themselves on camera or listening to recordings of their playing, but by refusing to observe or listen to your performances you are denying yourself the opportunity to notice things you could easily change and improve.

Here’s an example: In college I gave a junior recital after months of practicing. I thought I had nailed it. Afterwards my teacher gave me a cassette tape to listen to. It turns out I played the entire recital about a quarter tone flat! It was only from listening back to a tape that I could notice and then easily fix this issue for future performances.


Your business will grow with video.

Many people will not hire you if they can’t learn more about the thing you do, or who you are, via video.

Whether someone is looking to “get a vibe” about how you come across personally, or they’re looking for a specific skill or service you offer, most people want to see you on video, even after they’ve been referred to you by someone they trust.

Here are a few examples of how I’ve seen people miss out on opportunities because they lacked video:

  1. I was on tour and needed to hire a drummer. A drummer was referred to me, so I looked them up on YouTube. Even though I was given a referral, I ultimately passed them over because I couldn’t find videos representing the specific skill set I was looking for.
  2. Recently I referred an international student to the directors of three jazz departments in the U.S. The student got back to me saying they would pursue TWO of the directors, and not the third, because the third contact had no YouTube videos.
  3. When I moved to a new town and was looking for a violin teacher for my son, video search helped me and my wife to evaluate prospects based on videos presenting their philosophies, personalities, and teaching style.

If people cannot find videos of you on YouTube or elsewhere, they will often pass you over — even if they’ve been referred.

Besides this, you’ll miss out on being discovered in a Google search by someone who types in “piano teacher in Chicago”…


What you need to showcase on video and why

1) Show who you are so they can know, like, and trust you.

Most people will hire a less talented teacher, performer, composer, or producer whom they know, like and trust.

Speaking from the heart, showing your human side, gives your prospective clients the opportunity to get to know you.

Many clients don’t know the difference between the skill of you vs your competitors any more than you can distinguish the difference in skill of web designers, landscapers, or rocket scientists. Think about it: You hire the plumber who is responsive, trustworthy, and easy to work with – (not the “best” plumber). The same is true for your clients when they hire you.

Videos you can shoot that show your human side and inspire trust in prospective clients:

  • Speaking engagements.
  • Informal talks to the camera.
  • Videos showing you teaching, consulting, or presenting workshops.
  • Moments captured of you playing with family, having fun, doing the things you enjoy on a daily basis.
  • Conversations on any subject (work related or not) between you and colleagues.  


2) Demonstrate specific skills and/or services.

  • Show work samples (Demonstrate your skills in as many sub-categories as apply).
  • Describe the benefits to your customers of services you provide, i.e., by talking about these on camera.

Video Prompts for Performers:  

  • Perform solo.
  • Perform duo.
  • Perform one style, perform another style.
  • Do it at home.
  • Do it in the park.
  • Do it live at a gig, and save excerpts of your favorite moments.
  • Showcase different skills in different videos. (Don’t expect someone to assume you are a great singer just because you made a video playing piano.)  


Pro Tip: Make a list of all the styles or skills you have as a performer and make a video showcasing each one.

Video Prompts for Teachers:

  • Teaching a private lesson.
  • Teaching a workshop.
  • Conducting mini lessons or demonstrations on a range of subjects
  • Talking about your teaching philosophy.
  • Talking about your teaching policies.
  • Talking about why you like to teach.
  • Talking to parents.
  • Talking to students.

Pro Tip: Make a list of all the things you say more than once to your students and then teach all of these things one by one. 

Make sure to demonstrate your skillset or services in as many sub-categories as apply. You can also compile playlists of related content for easier access to your viewers, and to increase the chances that your viewers will watch more content that is relevant and useful to them.


There are a number of other things you can feature in your video content, including:

3) “Behind the Scenes” documentation of any tour, project, initiative, etc.

4) Interviews (of yourself and/or of other people you collaborate with)

5) Testimonials from students, colleagues or clients


Get Started — A Friendly Invitation & Challenge  

Make a list, based on the examples I gave above, of 5-10 videos you could make right now.

You probably won’t like the first one, so after watching it, make some notes to yourself and shoot it again.

After you shoot your first video or two, it will get easier and you’ll improve quickly. You’ll learn a ton about yourself and your work in the process. You can share your first video with a couple people you trust and ask their opinion before sharing publicly.


Worried about Video Production?

Production values are not as important as the substance of your content; You can work up to better production values over time. 

A video is a chance for someone to get to know you. They will forgive the production values if you show a good performance, a human moment, or anything authentic.

This basic video was shot in one take with my phone in the woods, and several consulting clients reached out to me after seeing it:

There are lots of great tutorials about production, but I’m just going to give you what has worked for me in my road to almost two million views through over 400 free/public Youtube videos on my channel

DIY Approach – Stand against either a neutral or interesting/attractive backdrop in a quiet room, ensure the light is facing towards you, dress appropriately, and record.


Production Upgrades (In order of importance):

  1. Get really good lighting. Outdoors on a sunny day is good. Otherwise buy some lights.
  2. Audio: Record a separate audio track and sync with video later (or get a camera with a good built-in mic).
  3. Multi-camera: Record from a different angle with a second camera and edit later.


Batch Creation: It always makes sense to shoot IN BULK, especially if and when you hire someone to help with your shoot. Shoot tons of videos in one day and then deal with edits later and roll them out over time. The same applies with Batch Editing.

(Pro Tips: I Use TUBE BUDDY to help optimize and repurpose my videos. For thumbnails and art to make your videos more likely to be clicked, I recommend the YouTube Starter Kit .)


To DIY or Delegate?

I look at the process in three components, i.e., shooting, editing and sharing videos.

Each of these stages can be done DIY or by delegating and there’s no one right or wrong way.

There are lots of young people looking for experience who will work for less for the chance to get experience and build a relationship. There are plenty of affordable editing apps if you want to get into that.


What’s worked for me:

Making and sharing many no-fuss videos helped me gain views on all platforms. More importantly, it shows prospective clients, students, fans what I can do and who I am, so they can make an informed decision about whether to work with me.

My strategy has been to publish LOTS of videos. Different types, different reasons, different settings; some in the moment, some planned and produced. Some of my videos have gotten over 100,000 views, and others have gotten less than 200.

When I first began releasing videos they were awful in terms of production values, but the content resonated with enough people that I attracted and nurtured relationships with clients, students, and fans.


Here are some of the types of videos I’ve used on my channel:

I’m always surprised by which videos other people like, so I’ve stopped second guessing myself and just put stuff out there.

Remember the goal  is not to become a viral superstar, but rather to be able to showcase different services to whomever wants to know. From reading this post, you now have a better sense of who I am and are more likely to want to learn about my Music Business Consulting services. You might want to sign up for my 1-1 coaching program.

The point for me is not whether one million people are reading this, but rather just that YOU are, and that this gives me a chance to provide value to you up front and develop more of a basis of trust. 

This is worth doubling down on, because chances are, part of the reason you don’t make videos currently is because you’re worried about how embarrassed you’ll feel when your YouTube channel shows a low view count.

It’s not about about how many people watch your videos. It’s about having the ability to show the right people, when the time is right, what they need to know about you. 

What do you think? Has this been helpful to you? Please let me know in the comments below either way.

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Let’s Connect

Want help growing your career as a freelance creative?  Want help teaching and marketing online?  Consider getting my 1-1 support.

If you’re interested in getting my support and you’ve got questions about whether it’s the right fit or how it works, schedule an exploratory call on my calendar here.




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