We spoke with singer-songwriter, Tanner Patrick and he gives us a glimpse of a day and the life of a single person online video channel.
Tanner Patrick is a musician who has delighted audiences across the globe. Starting his YouTube channel in 2011, he has garnered the attention of over 1 million subscribers and earned over 100 million video views.
Start of the Day
Maintaining a successful YouTube channel begins with research. Tanner shares that his morning begins with keeping up to date with current trends. He states, “I wake up, and I usually check the charts on iTunes. I always like to know what’s going on, especially with music and the music world, to see if there are any new releases or songs that I would cover. So I’m always looking at the outside first to see what’s going on with the rest of the world. Then I usually just start producing.”
He continues, “If there’s’ not a cover song that needs to be done immediately, I usually just start writing and producing original stuff. But it doesn’t ever stop (chuckles), which is kind of a blessing, but it’s a ton of work. I do just nonstop work from the moment I get up; I’m either working on a song of my own, a cover song, producing a video or editing a video.”
On his performance days — days when he is singing — Tanner says, “…It’s a lot of what you would expect when you go into a studio to record a song. It’s a lot of warming up, and it’s a lot of me banging my head against the wall trying to get the right takes. Because I’m kind of a perfectionist, sometimes I’ll record the whole song and then start over because I didn’t like the way it sounded. So those days are really hard, and sometimes I’ll sing for five or six hours until I like it.”
After that, Tanner jumps right into mixing the song the same day that he records. He expresses that, “I record it, and I just work as fast as I can on it. Until I crash and fall asleep, then wake up the next day, keep producing.” Once the song is mixed and mastered, Tanner gets some rest then goes into video production phase. “I kind of restart the whole process by performing the video.”
Tanner has a very run-and-gun approach to producing his videos. His crew is made up of him and one other person, which is a formula he found, “…just works.” He continues in saying, “We just work together to come up with the right shots and usually go very on-the-fly. Like, sometimes it’s like driving around, ‘oh that looks like a cool spot’, then we just pull over and start recording… There’s very little pre pro into this.”
Adding on to his run-and-gun process, Tanner shares “…we do have a shot list, but it’s never written down; we just do a mental check as we’re going. It’s like, ‘did we do the wide one? Did we do the face one?’ We just call it what it is, you know? I would say it’s usually about 20 different shots of the whole song. I perform the song 20 times and about roughly 40GB on the card every time.”
In addition to the video shoot, Tanner will have a photo shoot: “We always make the iTunes & Spotify cover art, so we’ll do a photoshoot at the end of the video, and we usually take about 30 photos — sometimes up to 100 photos — and then pick one of those to be the album artwork. And sometimes it also ends up being the same for [the YouTube thumbnail].”
At the conclusion of a video shoot, Tanner goes right into post-production. Because his background is in music and not video, editing didn’t come as easy to him at first. “It used to take a really long time to edit a video, mostly because I was trying to use iMovie and it was very difficult. So the first year on my channel, it took me like a week to edit a video.” He continues enthusiastically, “I’m a huge fan of post now. That’s like my favorite thing. And I think it’s because I can, like, get behind computer again, which is where I did a lot of the music production.”
While describing his workflow, Tanner explains, “I’m very anal about, like, my organization, so all my clips have to be, like, perfectly colored, numbered, and labeled. Then I just get to work.” While editing Tanner seeks to, “…find all of the moments in the video that match, not just match the music from a technical standpoint, but emotionally.”
Tanner summarizes that it usually takes two days to edit a video before he posts it to his YouTube Channel, which he says makes the whole process worth it.
“Part of the reward is creating something.” Tanner says excitedly, “You just created and go ‘yeah like I did that, and I’m proud of that!’ Then sharing with other people, [it’s] like the icing on the cake. I just give it to people, so it feels nice.”
One of the most recent projects Tanner was a part of as of this writing was a project called “Everybody Loves Disney” produced through his MCN Maker Studio. Tanner collaborated with another producer on a song from “Alice in Wonderland” called “A World of My Own.”
“It was just so fun to create something that was totally different!” He describes how he wanted to create something that felt like he was in a world of his own. “We went deep into these woods where there was nothing and no one, nothing around. We just filmed me playing in the woods, and I felt like I was like six years old again.”
As satisfying as creating a video from conception to completion is, there are challenges that come along with the process.
Working as a mostly one person team comes with a lot of self-criticism. “The worst part of what I do is self-doubt,” Tanner states. “The worst part is creating something and wondering ‘are people going to like this, or am I wasting my time just creating something that only I like?’” Additionally, Tanner shares that, because he does so much by himself, his social life has been strained. “Social life kind of goes out the window and you become a slave to the work, but you love the work, so it’s tough.” However, the doubt and sacrifices are worth it for him.
“Being able to create as an artist and being able to have it appreciated by people and those people being affected by it in a positive way is the best part,” Tanner explains. “It is just so great when I can create something that other people enjoy as much as I enjoyed creating it. It feels like they [created] it with me or something.” He goes on to say, “People have encouraged me to keep going on. I don’t think they knew how much they were encouraging me. [I’m sure they thought] that they were just telling me how they felt about something, but it was so important for me to see that positive review.”
Operating an online video channel takes more work than just turning on a camera. It takes planning, support and a lot of time and sacrifice. From Tanner’s experience, persistence is the key. He shares, “I’ve found certain videos will really catch fire, but not all of them do. So if you don’t continue you might not see. If your first five-six videos don’t catch fire, they’re not like getting a lot of love, that doesn’t mean that the eighth won’t. It’s a journey, you just gotta keep telling yourself that you can do it, and someone is going to like it.”
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