How to make money on YouTube as a guitar player
Making money as a guitar player on YouTube is actually easy, but at the same time a pain in the ass.
I remember a few years back when YouTube kicked almost every guitar player off YouTube because of copyright enforcement. There were, repeat, were hundreds of thousands (possibly millions) of videos of guys playing along with their favorite songs. Just about every one of these videos got the axe, and many accounts were outright banned because of "repeat violations." Why? Because many guitar players had several videos they posted playing along with other songs, and it was all too easy to hit the "3 strikes rule" limit and have your account banned permanently.
I mention this so you can remember the following:
Do not use any music that does not belong to you in your videos. Ever.
If you use anyone else's music in your videos, your YouTube channel will most likely receive a "strike," and that's no good when you're trying to make money.
Now for what I'm about to say, it's going to sound like the exact opposite of what I just warned you about. Trust me, it's not.
The key to making money on YouTube as a guitar player is...
Think about what people search for on YouTube more than anything else when it comes to guitar stuff. It's three things. Products they know, songs they know, and how to play riffs from those songs. That's it.
Why haven't I done this personally?
Making instructional guitar videos is something I find annoying even though I know that over time it does bring in a reasonably good income stream. More on that in a moment.
How to do it
What you're basically doing is showing people how to play riffs and solos.
If you take any popular song old or new - which is what people will be searching for - you can break that up into 2 to 3 videos, such as riff 1 video, riff 2 video, solo video.
Take a bunch of songs you know and make SHORT, UNDER-3-MINUTE videos instructing how to play the song. NEVER use the original song recording in the video because that will result in a "copyright strike" as mentioned above. Just show how to play a riff or solo.
The most important thing about your video isn't the video itself. It's the title and keywords. Make the title something like "Main riff from [insert band name here] [insert song name here]" and the keywords as "[insert band name here], [insert song name here], guitar, riff, instruction, beginner, howto, tutorial".
No partner account to make money with? No problem.
You need a partner account to actually make money from your video views. If you don't have one, start posting instructional videos anyway. Over time, you will gain enough subscribers and views where YouTube will offer you a partner account, and that's when you take it and monetize all your videos. It will come. Be patient.
Subscribers and views will come SLOWLY over time
If you post videos regularly (once a week is fine,) people will find your stuff via YouTube search. They will seek particular band names and song titles and your videos containing those names and titles will show up.
The nice thing about tutorial videos is that it is the gift that keeps on giving, so to speak. There are always new guitar players appearing, and many of them are looking for information on how to play the songs they like. If you have videos out there that are of what newbie guitar players are looking for, then yeah, you'll get the views...
...slowly. This does not happen quickly. You absolutely will not receive thousands of views per video when you first get out there. It takes time before YouTube indexes your videos for people to find.
When you steadily post videos on a regular basis, views and subscribers will happen and the numbers will increase as time goes on. But again, slowly. Don't expect a landslide of high numbers all at once.
A quick 101 on how YouTube works concerning guitar tutorial videos
If you make a bunch of videos and then stop, you won't get the views nor the subscribers. YouTube "likes" people who post videos regularly, so it makes no sense to make 100 videos, stop, then just expect them to gain views over time because that won't happen; they will be buried from lack of channel owner (you) involvement.
Releasing 1 video a week is fine because it shows channel activity. As long as the channel stays active, that gives YouTube a reason to send traffic your way because you actually, y'know, give a crap.
Instructional guitar videos are more popular than you think
It is likely true that you will get far more traffic from an instructional video than you ever would from an original song.
If you have original music on YouTube, I'll tell you exactly why you don't get views. It's because nobody is searching for it. You need to be in a place where people find you from search.
I'll say that again, 3 times. SEARCH, SEARCH, SEARCH.
Not only do people have to find you from a YouTube search, but the video you post must be relevant to that search...
...which is why guitar instructional videos work so well. You can use famous band names and famous song names while still providing useful information that guitar players can use. It's all good, all relevant and YouTube doesn't have a problem with that.
How much can you expect to make?
There is no straight answer on this because earnings vary wildly depending on things like advertiser interest, viewer interest and a whole bunch of other stuff.
What I can say however is that your goal is to have high cumulative views. What that means is to not aim for a single viral video because you'll never get that with guitar instruction. But you can get a whole ton of views on a cumulative level.
Said in plain English: A million views spread across 1 video is the same as a million views spread across 30 videos. Views are views are views and they basically all pay the same.
Let's say that across all your videos, you bring in a cumulative million views every month.
The Big Question: Can you live off the income from a million monetized views per month?
Answer: No. You will not make enough to live off of from a million cumulative monetized views per month even under the best of circumstances.
From what I've seen, a cumulative 2 million views a month is usually the starting point for where people can say, "Yeah, I can live off this."
Is it worth it?
As a secondary or tertiary means of income, it can be as long as it doesn't annoy you to make videos.
If you can regularly post 1 video a week showing other guitarists how to play riffs and solos, yes it can bring in a few hundred to a few thousand bucks a month, depending on how many cumulative views you're consistently able to get.
There is one last bit of advice I will give if this sounds like a good idea to you:
Never read comments on your own videos.
You will get idiots that will purposely try to tick you off, possibly for every video you post. And it does no good to disable comments or ratings because that decreases views.
You will have to train yourself right from the get-go to never click that "comments" tab on the YouTube dashboard. I'd also disable all email notifications of new comments.
Yes, I am saying to just post videos and totally ignore the comment area 100%. Do that, and you'll enjoy the views and enjoy the extra income. Don't, and you'll be wasting your time deleting and banning idiots - which is a battle you will never win.