YouTuber and jazz musician Charles Cornell seamlessly blends comedy, performance and pop culture. His videos reveal the wonder of music to his audience of more than 900K subscribers. His passion for music is infectious, and his channel continues to grow. Let’s dig into the Charles Cornell YouTube channel to uncover the secrets to its success.
Music appreciation for all
Some YouTubers thrive on pointing out the flaws in popular opinion. Charles, however, chooses to focus on the positive side of music and pop culture commentary. His videos tend to celebrate the greatness of beloved musicians and performers like Whitney Houston and Billie Eilish.
In one video, for example, Charles explains why the work of John Williams is so deeply embedded in our culture. It would be easy to dismiss the prolific film composer as over-hyped, and such contrary opinions often garner impressive view counts. But Charles opts instead to focus on Williams’s talent and influence. One part music lesson, one part musical performance, Charles uses his own talent on the piano to help illustrate his broader argument.
While John Williams is an obvious target, Charles frequently directs his admiration towards less expected examples of greatness. Take the Wii theme music or the music of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood as examples. By sharing his perspective on these underappreciated compositions, Charles highlights the surprising complexity of the music we encounter daily.
What else is on the Charles Cornell YouTube channel?
Aside from his reaction videos, Charles’s channel offers a unique blend of musical education and experimentation. As a jazz musician, Charles brings a sense of playfulness to every video. This quality is especially apparent in videos like “Chipmunk Song but you went to jazz school” or “Happy Birthday But It’s Dark And Ominous For 2020.”
Rounding out his channel, Charles also shares advice for fellow musicians in videos like “How to practice better when you’re lazy like me” and “Modes are way easier than you think. Here’s why.” Plus, relatable videos like “Annoying things people say to musicians” are sure to get a laugh from aspiring and veteran musicians alike.
Overall, the Charles Cornell channel has become a place for music lovers of all sorts to congregate.
Blending comedy and jazz
The Charles Cornell channel wasn’t always so focused on music. Scrolling down to his oldest content, it’s clear that Charles took some time to home in on his eventual niche. But in May 2019, Charles hit on a format that worked: Piano memes.
His first video in this format is titled “Cardi B’s Uggs” In it, Charles accompanies Cardi on the piano as she brags about her new, highly exclusive, limited edition Uggs. The video is only 21 seconds long, but it has accumulated nearly 2 million views since it was posted.
After spending a year perfecting the piano meme format, Charles made a risky decision for his channel and abruptly stopped making piano memes entirely. He even called himself out in the video “I made dumb piano memes on YouTube for an entire year.” But if you read the comments under his explanation video, “Why I Stopped Making Piano Memes,” you can see that his fans were perfectly fine with this departure.
Breaking away from the structure of the piano meme format turned out to be the right call. Now Charles has more freedom to explore and share a variety of musical interests and ideas. Charles was able to successfully transition from a limited but familiar format to one that gave him more creative freedom. This has ultimately led to a healthier channel with more room to grow.
Beyond the piano meme
His meme-ing days may be over, but Charles hasn’t abandoned comedy. It’s what makes what could have been a dry music theory lesson fun and engaging — even for those who aren’t so musically inclined.
The positivity and humor that shine through in each video have attracted a loyal and engaged audience. Plus, his penchant for inside jokes helps Charles’s viewers feel like part of a community. As one commenter noted, he’s “like a really cool piano version of Bob Ross.”
Production is important
On top of being a skilled musician and relatable comedian, Charles Cornell is also a skilled video creator. This certainly factors into his channel’s overall success.
Charles’s attention to detail is apparent in the production value of his videos. Professional lighting and uncluttered backgrounds keep the focus on the musician and his keyboard. His is shooting and editing style is grounded in the aesthetics of YouTube — complete with jump cuts — but his videos still prioritize the integrity of the music over all else. Charles also makes use of more involved editing techniques. Strategic L- and J-cuts, for example, allow musical ideas to play out even as the video moves on to the next segment. His creative editing is also on display in his “5 versions” series, where he performs five different versions of the same song.
Audio quality and sound design are clearly top priorities for this music-focused channel — as they should be. Solid production value means Charles’s audience can focus on the music.
The secret to Charles Cornell’s success
Through a combination of knowledge, enthusiasm, production value and relatability, Charles Cornell has turned his passion into a successful YouTube channel. His playful approach to music appreciation keeps viewers coming back even as Charles continues to evolve his content and develop new video formats. We can’t wait to see what’s next for the Charles Cornell YouTube channel.
Featured image courtesy: Charles Cornell