How MysteryGuitarMan Become A Successful Independent Musician

Joe Penna, the man behind the YouTube channel MysteryGuitarMan, is one of the most successful YouTube musicians. Since he launched his channel in 2006, Penna has gained over two and a half million subscribers and nearly half a billion total views. He has been featured multiple times on the front page of YouTube, has made and starred in commercials, and has become the most subscribed to channel in Brazil.

Here are some things aspiring musicians can learn from Penna’s career.

1. Create a persona.

When Penna started MysteryGuitarMan, the only person on the channel was the persona of the Mystery Guitar Man. Penna was absent, and in his place was a suave, voiceless musician. He was both effortlessly cool and amazingly talented.

He has since started a secondary channel where he, as Penna, discusses the making of his videos. The character of Mystery Guitar Man is the face of his brand, however, and that character was one of the biggest selling points for his early videos.

2. Learn filmmaking techniques.

Not only is Penna a talented musician, but he is also a skilled filmmaker. By remaining independent from any major record label, Penna gave himself complete creative control over all of his content.

As such, the music videos he puts out are untraditional and engaging. Because he is a filmmaker, he is able to do things visually that play into the music he’s made.

3. Collaborate with others.

After establishing himself as a musician and content creator, Penna started to collaborate with like-minded YouTubers. His most frequent collaborators are the comedy duo Rhett and Link. The collaborations they do appear on either his channel or theirs, creating an exclusivity of the content that drives up the channel traffic for each creator involved.

Aside from video collaboration, Penna also helps and gets help from friends for producing and editing videos. By making connections, Penna has found a way to keep his content fresh.

4. Remain independent.

While this bit of advice isn’t the best advice for every musician, it works extremely well for others. Penna has remained independent of any major record label, and that is by design. By remaining independent, Penna has managed to maintain control of his video production, his sound, and his brand.

It is the uniqueness and the DIY feel of Penna’s content that attracted his audience in the first place. It would be a mistake for him to change that at this point, and he knows it.

Joe Penna, a.k.a. Mystery Guitar Man, is one of the most successful independent YouTube musicians still around today. His bizarre video sense, mysterious persona, and collaborative efforts are what garnered him subscribers in droves. Any aspiring musician should follow his example and carve out a space for himself or herself away from the pack.

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Anthony Mauro is a San Francisco State graduate who splits his time between the Bay Area and San Diego. He spends his free time thinking long hair is cool, playing video games for an online audience, and writing short stories, comic books, and novels.