As I write this I can hear the 3 million plus guitarist in the world gasp with anger and complete indignation at the title of this post. I mean everyone deserves to get something highly valuable for free right? Or do they?
Let me explain…
I, like you, love the internet. I love the freedom of access that I have to information that “costs” some-one something. The internet is filled with tonnes of free stuff. Like a huge archive of self replicating information (not unlike Skynet from Terminator!) that is all knowing and all consuming. This post is not putting in question the power of the internet, but I am challenging the premise that you can get “everything” you need “for free” on the internet.
In 2011 we started a site called www.punkdisasters.com it was two guys in a garage with a cheap video camera and a dream to create an online teaching platform in the form of a jazz guitar video site. It all started when Dixon Nacey and I reconnected after about 20 years. We were good friends at high school and played in our first bands together. The site was a long term process as we were both working full time on other businesses and we were “boot strapping” the whole thing.
Because of Dixon’s Youtube Channel the sales started coming in and were getting members joining every month. In fact we have had over 1000 people through the site over the years and as we have improved the membership site people seem to stick around for the long term.
So why do people choose to pay for access to premium lessons as opposed to just searching for them online. If stuff is so good out there, why not just spend an hour on Youtube every night and be done with it. There seems to be a pretty good case to suggest that you “get what you pay for online”. Here are my Top 10…
As the internet goes full HD a lot of content on Youtube will stay at a lower quality. Yes it will improve over time but people that invest in premium content tend to make quality one of the prerequisites for content creation. I know that our own content started off low quality but we have the ability to swap these older videos as we build the site into the future. Youtube does not have a swap feature at the moment although it may add it in the future.
2. Incoherent Material.
Unfortunately a lot of material on Youtube is added in a random and non-sequential order. When you are learning guitar lessons online you want to be able to follow a series of steps and be able to follow those steps as master each lesson.
3. People with high value tend to put more value on their knowledge.
Yes there are 1000’s of people pumping out free guitar lessons into the internet world. But people that are “really good” tend to place a higher value on their time. Someone who gets paid $15 an hour can afford to pump out low quality lessons all day, where a person who is paid $100 an hour must place a higher value on their time. I know working with Dixon (some-one in $100 an hour zone) that He must make the most out of every minute of every day. He is often extremely busy with students and gigs. Although he has created hundreds of videos on Youtube these were often recorded at lower quality and made on the fly. Premium quality lessons take 10 times longer to create, therefore they have a higher value.
4. People with video cameras are not necessarily teachers.
Anyone with a camera these days can call themselves a teacher. Unfortunately good teachers are hard to find. This is because teaching is actually a skill that only a few people possess. Teaching is the innate ability to take complex knowledge and convert it into easy to follow steps and actions. This is why 80% of everything on youtube would be categorised as incoherent content rather than in-depth explanatory content.
5. Learning requires access.
Like learning in the off line world learning guitar online requires that a student and the teacher engage in a conversation about the content. Unfortunately learning the guitar through Youtube or similar sites is often void of real interaction with the teacher. In a membership site like punkdisasters.com we have been able to engage personally in the conversation with students to increase the learning curve for everyone involved.
6. Lack of supporting material.
Video hosting sites are usually good at one thing – hosting video. In the online teaching space students expect a lot more than just videos. Lesson need to have transcriptions and backing tracks as well as supporting materials.
7. Lack of resources
People that charge for content have budgets to spend on developing their product. It makes sense that eventually people who have found a way to monetise their offering will stay ahead of the pack and eventually beat out the competition. This means offering better content and lessons as time goes by.
8. People who want everything for free are not the best customers.
Don’t take this the wrong way, but if you always wanting everything for free and you expect this from everyone else then you have missed an important part of the value equation. It is my belief that everything in life comes through sowing and reaping. When you exchange value with someone you are investing in your future and the future of others. To be a great guitarist you should have the mind set of helping and giving back. These are the kind of people that we are wanting to work with at punkdisasters.com.
9. When you pay for something you are more likely to value it.
This is because you are invested in the process and are more likely to engage and exert effort. Money is a good motivator, especially when you are losing it. People who are willing to pay for lessons are more likely to take action and get involved in the process of learning instead of putting things off and taking a relaxed approach.
10. Investing in the little guy.
I love Youtube. in fact jazzguitarlegend.com would not be here today if Dixon didn’t start offering his lessons for free on Youtube.com. But there needs to be a line drawn between the little guy and the big guy. If we want to see great artists create great material, we need to be investing in the little guy. I am sure Youtube has enough money to fund it operation. But imagine funnelling resources into the top 10 guitarists in any space. This would fuel the industry and enable many great artists to have a voice on the world stage and teach their part of the big knowledge equation.
I would recommend using free resources to get started but if you are serious about investing in the future of the online guitar world, find someone you can trust and work with them personally to develop your craft in a real and meaningful way.
What do you think? Can you learn to play guitar just by using free lessons on Youtube?