Hollens was the guy in the purple tie and leather jacket, singing Mr. Surrounding him in a dynamic V-like formation were other collegiate-looking young men, sporting a mix of striped rugby shirts, crew-cut sweaters, and letterman jackets.
Think J. Back in , when Hollens and his group made their TV debut, the hype around a cappella was still fairly new. As he looked around at the other vocalists on the show, all of whom were his age or younger and trying to make music for a living, Hollens realized that he was just as good. Today, Hollens produces at least one new music video every other week for his 2 million YouTube subscribers, his 2 million Facebook followers, and hundreds of thousands of other fans on Instagram and Twitter.
Most would say Hollens has reached internet stardom. His peers—even some of his teachers—would pick on him, trying to get a reaction out of the poor kid, but Hollens lacked the social skills to respond in any sort of meaningful way. His father was diagnosed with brain cancer before Hollens was born. That was until his mother signed him up for choir freshman year. All of the sudden I had something to wake up for. Hollens learned early on that he was pretty good at singing.
The lack of competition for guys in choir—the ratio was —may have also helped. Eventually, his talent and hard work got him a full scholarship to the University of Oregon, where he majored in voice performance, met his future wife—and started On The Rocks. It wasn't even a pond, it was a puddle of water on the floor.
Hollens started recording CDs for the group to sell on these trips, and when other groups around the nation heard, they employed him to make CDs for them too. Eventually, Hollens was recording for a cappella groups around the nation. After college, Hollens had no idea that he could make a living as a solo artist.
Yet, somehow, Hollens manages to produce covers that are both clever and inspiring—and often garner much more internet attention than the original song itself. Hollens makes his sound unique by weaving multiple tracks of his own together—sometimes as many as —giving the effect of a much larger ensemble.
Layering his voice in different tones and pitches allows him to harmonize the song, transforming his solo voice into that of a full-fledged a cappella band. All of this extensive production work—from video editing to audio production—Hollens taught himself. The Moves Like Jaggervideo quickly amassed a million views and garnered the attention of another YouTube singer, Lindsey Stirling, to whom Hollens owes much of his success.
When she asked to collaborate, Hollens proposed the theme song for Skyrim, a popular, action role-playing video game. Little did he know, that video would change his life. It went viral within a few hours and now, years later, has been watched 74 million times—and counting. This was his turning point. Instead of seeing fellow artists as competitors, Lindsey taught Hollens to look at them as peers—a radical shift in his thought process.
He started collaborating more and more with the artists he once viewed as nemeses. With each collaboration, he garnered more listeners. As he gathered momentum, Hollens brought on mixing engineers and audio editors to make his product even better. Hollens has perfected his product to the point that he now easily garners a million plus views per Facebook or YouTube video—most attract even more.
The key to his digital success? The ceaseless attention he gives to his digital community, his Hollensfamily. Whether that means crowdsourcing ideas for new songs—The Greatest Showmanand Moana covers for example—or just being super transparent about the decisions he makes—like which songs to put on his Christmas and Folk album—Hollens builds his audience into every song and video he creates.
When Hollens presented the record label with his digital strategy, they had nothing to add. Someone who has no idea what being a digital musician means should never tell somebody with a digital entrepreneur mindset how to run their digital business. Patreon is the reason I feel confident in hiring full-time employees and contractors —because of my patrons, I know I will have a salary for them.
The platform has easily become his number one generator of income in the four-plus years since he joined. He makes personally signed gifts like t-shirts, pins, and stickers for his patrons, gives them karaoke versions of songs, personal video messages, access to online hangouts, and other exclusive rewards that give his biggest fans a unique look into his process. Hollens likes to say that Patreon saved his life. Twitter Facebook YouTube. Peter has developed Creator Education to help coach creative entrepreneurs to utilize the same strategies that have brought him success:.
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