ON the YouTube platform, anyone can be a musician but it was also where big names like Justin Bieber, PSY, Greyson Chance and Charice Pempengco paved their way to stardom by simply uploading homemade videos that got the attention of television heavyweights like Ellen DeGeneres and Oprah Winfrey.
What follows is how they get to be well on their way to recording deals. But while there are many talents, life is not always a fairytale, at least for Alexander George Gut, or Alex Goot.
The 26-year-old singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Poughkeepsie in New York has uploaded nothing short of 100 videos on YouTube over the past four years. As seen in his videos, the young lad boasts many talents as he plays the acoustic guitar, the bass guitar, the piano, drums and a myriad of other instruments.
Goot first began recording music 10-years ago and has, since then, gained popularity from his multiple profiles on social media platforms as well as his own website (www.gootmusic.com) from which he distributes some of his music and provides news and regular updates to his ever-growing fan base.
Perhaps not signing up to a record label proved a blessing as Goot quickly rose through the ranks of YouTube’s Top 200 channels through his original songs and soulful approach to covers of other artists’ hit songs. The gootmusic YouTube channel has over 1.9 million subscribers to date and viewership of his videos are on an average of 100 million.
Goot told the Malaysian media during a recent trip with pop/rock band Against The Current (ATC) that he had been approached by recording companies.
But, he points out much to the agreement of the ATC trio, signing up would mean giving the company a huge upper hand on what material can be released, when it should be released and it may even take away elements that make them unique individuals.
Goot and ATC’s Chrissy Costanza, Dan Gow and Will Ferri, were in Malaysia for a joint concert tour.
ATC is also from Goot’s hometown of Poughkeepsie and the band and Goot had done multiple collaborations, including their top viewed videos of a Kelly Clarkson cover on Catch My Breath (14 million views) and Nickelback’s Photograph (four million views).
Costanza, who makes the only woman in the band, said it is always a humbling experience to meet fans who support them constantly.
“We have been connecting with people online for two years now and sometimes it’s hard to put a face to a name because it’s just through a screen.
“But meeting people in person is so different and it’s unreal. The millions of views that we got were viewed by real people,” Costanza says.
ATC, like Goot, is in no rush to sign on to a record label.
“Labels have pros and cons. They get you the exposure you need be it on radio or magazines but ultimately, you have to develop yourself as a band or as an artist first.
“The brand should already be there and it should be something that is genuine, that is developed naturally ... not something that is produced. Jumping into a label could create something that doesn’t really exist,” Costanza notes.
In choosing a tune to make a cover of, ATC and Goot says, it would be a song that they would listen to and enjoy, and collectively search to see if they share the same values that the song tries to convey.
Of course, all four agree that the song should be flexible enough for them to weave their own musical styles so it would have a different twist from the original.
Citing John Mayer, Hayley Williams (of Paramore fame) and The Dave Matthews Band as their musical inspirations, ATC and Goot said that more than anything else, an artiste’s ability to be themselves and be honest in their music is what encourages them.
Answering a question from the floor about musicians who use gimmicks in all its various forms instead of passion to make a record sale or to get hits on YouTube, a very diplomatic Costanza says that musicians who use gimmicks and don’t write their own material are entertainers because they “don’t infuse their heart and soul into their music.”
“If I could use my body to sell music, I would do it but there was never really an option,” Goot gests.
On a more serious note, Goot opined that for many musicians, using gimmicks especially those sexually driven are meant as a marketing strategy. Evidently, they prefer staying true to their style as a band and as individuals.
They may not be the biggest names in mainstream music but just before their Aug 23 concert Alex Goot & Against The Current Live In KL, 400 tickets had already been sold but it turned out to be a sell-out concert.
|(From left) Gow, Constanza, Ferri and Goot posing for photographs. Photos by Mohd Izwan Mohd Nazam|
For more information about Alex Goot and Against The Current, check out http://www.gootmusic.com/, https://www.facebook.com/gootmusic, http://www.youtube.com/user/gootmusic, http://www.youtube.com/user/againstthecurrentNY and http://against-the-current.myshopify.com/
This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on September 17, 2014.