Marty Schwartz says he has “one lazy student” to thank for his online music career.
Schwartz, who teaches guitar in San Diego, said that in 2005 that student came in for a lesson and for a third straight week couldn’t play the tune he was supposed to be learning.
“I flipped open the camera on my laptop, and I filmed the Jimi Hendrix riff we were working on,” Schwartz, 43, said in an interview. He uploaded the video to a fledgling website called YouTube.
Schwartz soon realized how useful it was to have a site for large video files. When he was laid off from his job as an elementary school music teacher in 2008, YouTube became a place for Schwartz to post custom lessons for students and a way for people to discover him as a teacher.
Ten years later, Schwartz’s main channel — Marty Music — has about 948,000 subscribers. He says his videos average 7 million views a month, earning him hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in advertising revenue, thanks to popular songs from bands like Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Nirvana and Radiohead.
“While much of YouTube’s most successful content capitalizes on timeliness, Marty’s videos are timeless,” said Kevin Grosch, CEO of Made In Network, which helps manage the Marty Music channel. “People come to Marty to learn how to play their favorite songs, many of which are decades old. They also come to develop their skills as a musician, which is a need that will be around as long as people want to play guitar.”
Entrepreneurs like Schwartz have helped turn YouTube into a multibillion-dollar business, though only Alphabet knows the exact size because the company doesn’t disclose the site’s metrics. Analysts at Nomura Instinet estimated in July that YouTube generate $12.8 billion of revenue in 2017, and the firm expects that number to reach $22 billion by 2020.
Schwartz started playing guitar during his senior year of high school because his friends were getting into it and “obviously girls liked it,” he said. He joined a band a played songs inspired by jam bands like Blues Traveler and Phish.