How ThePianoGuys Made It Big as Instrumentalists

With more than five million subscribers, ThePianoGuys bring a very unique taste of music to YouTube. All three members are classically trained instrumentalists, yet they make the most out their instruments and bring to the table something extremely different in song covers.

Most find it difficult to gain much traction on YouTube by playing instrumental music, but ThePianoGuys clearly defy that. Here’s how they made it big.

1. Cover current hits.

It’s a given that you should cover modern pop songs to gain more traction for your channel. If you don’t want to devote your entire channel to covering only pop songs, you can mix in a few of these or make mashups, like ThePianoGuys do on their channel.

When you cover current hits, you have a higher chance of reaching a wider range of audiences because most people who frequent YouTube (the younger generation) search up titles of songs they like, which are usually pop songs they heard on the radio. So, by titling your videos the names of these songs you’re covering, you’ll gain more views and subscribers, even if you are an instrumentalist and not a singer.

ThePianoGuys make plenty of covers of pop songs with their classical instruments, and most of their subscribers first discovered them through these covers. The following is a classic piano and cello cover of One Direction’s “Story of My Life” with more than twenty million views.

2. Do mashups.

It’s important to note that ThePianoGuys didn’t only cover pop songs. There are plenty of classical style hit songs as well, such as movie scores, that they cover. One of the most unique things ThePianoGuys do is arrange mashups, usually of a current hit and a piece of classical composition. You won’t find this anywhere else on YouTube, especially of the quality and caliber of this trio.

By combining two very different genres of music and making the whole product flow together so smoothly, ThePianoGuys successfully unite two generations of music-lovers. They use their classical-sounding instruments to create something very unique that no one else on YouTube has done. Even if you don’t like classical music, you’ll find that there’s a special element of fun in these mashups that will keep you listening.

The videos with the most views on their channel actually tend to be these mashups. In the following example, they perform a mashup of “Let It Go” from Frozen and Vivaldi’s “Winter.” Clearly, they spend plenty of time preparing the music, and the production quality of their videos is very high as well.

3. Make it your own.

Covers of songs usually get boring after a while, especially when there are so many on YouTube. One thing you should do for your videos to stand out is to make the music your own. ThePianoGuys are great at doing this, as they do classical instrumental covers of pop songs. This is definitely different from the average singing cover.

In addition, they also tweak the music and make it their own. Whether they change up the style of the song or make mashups, the resulting cover always sounds so unique and different from the original. This helps them make music unique to themselves, and it also helped their channel stand out among the many other music channels on YouTube.

In the following example, ThePianoGuys cover Coldplay’s “Paradise.” However, they put their own spin on it by changing the lyrics and adding an African twist to it.

4. Film in cool settings.

If your budget allows for this, and you have a pretty good following on your channel, you should consider bumping up your production value and content quality. ThePianoGuys started off filming covers in their studio or outdoors. However, as they gained more recognition, they began to focus more on the video production.

One of the cool things they did recently was a series on the Seven Wonders of the World. They aim to perform their covers and mashups on all seven historical sites (they’ve so far done three). This is so amazing because not only is the music intriguing now, but also the setting and background. This makes the video so much more appealing and professional, and it gives them so much credibility as musicians and content creators.

In addition, for interested subscribers, ThePianoGuys also upload behind the scenes action on how they transport their equipment onto these sites. This helps them gain subscribers on their second channel, as well as showcase their character on camera.

Instrumentalists aren’t as well-known on YouTube as other musicians, but they do produce just as worthy content. ThePianoGuys are some of the most successful YouTube musicians, and they prove just how capable instrumentalists are and all that they can achieve.

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Angelina Hue enjoys listening to wide variety of music, from instrumental movie scores to alternative indie to Korean pop music. She also likes to make short films and write fiction.

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