YouTube has opened doors for a wide variety of trades to carve out a niche and make a living online. I feed my family by making videos of knives. Others are comedians. This guy makes slingshot videos. In particular, independent musicians have found a place where they can flourish and share their immense abilities with the world.
Of the thousands of successful music channels on YouTube, one of my personal favorites is the Piano Guys. If you’re unfamiliar with the group, here’s a quick synopsis: the Piano Guys are a Utah group that has tapped into the talents of pianist Jon Schmidt and cellist Steven Sharp Nelson, along with a troupe of other wildly talented musicians, producers and filmmakers. The group is incredibly skilled at creating stunning visual and aural content.
I loosely followed the Piano Guys’ videos for a couple years and I was pleased that a group from Utah was creating stellar content and growing popular on YouTube. As fate would have it, I randomly had an opportunity to assist with a live video shoot of the Piano Guys Christmas concert in 2012. I ran a camera during the show. I was stoked to be there— live shoots are a unique thrill.
During the intermission, I was standing backstage taking it all in. While I was trying to wrap my head around all the wires and equipment, Steven Sharp Nelson came wandering past me. I stopped him with an uncomfortable, “You’re Steven, right?” Of course he was; I’d just been filming him for the last hour. Despite my awkward conversation starter, he was very kind. We chatted for a couple seconds, then I asked him this question: What is the best thing about this entire experience? The Piano Guys have more than 134 million views on YouTube. Every video they post goes viral. They just signed a record deal with Sony. They were in the thick of their biggest successes to date. With all the hype of the moment, Steven’s response to my question surprised me. He said, “The best part about all of this is that I get to share the music. I get to touch people and move people with what I’m doing.”
He didn’t mention money, notoriety or his talents. He didn’t mention YouTube videos with more than 24 million views. He simply wanted to share the music and touch people’s lives. The idea was profound.
As I drove home later that night, I found myself thinking about what I want to share with the world. What talents do I have that will make the world a better place? How can I positively impact people and touch their lives? I don’t have all the answers yet. I’m not certain where my life road will take me, but I’m figuring it out. I’m pursuing it. I’m moving in a direction. And I am confident that many times in our lives we simply have to overcome the inertia of standing still in order to figure out what music we need to share with the world.