INTERVIEW: The power of YouTube with Nina Nesbitt

Last night (25 November), YouTube hosted a workshop in Glasgow, giving the next generation of aspiring Scottish music artists, businesses, and music students the chance to learn how they can use YouTube to build a career.

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today I’m celebrating 10 years since I started my career on youtube. I remember the first video I ever uploaded was a cover of kelly clarkson’s ‘already gone’ on my £20 guitar from argos, covered in sharpie drawings of anchors, rainbows and cats. I was 15, still in school at the time and didn’t yet realise the power of youtube/social media as it was pretty new but soon I started to grow a small loyal fanbase of people who would comment on my videos & give me encouragement to continue. This meant so much to me at the time because I knew a lot of people around me were saying negative things lol I probs wasn’t great but your comments kept me motivated to keep progressing. I come from a small village in scotland where there were no industry contacts, no mentors & we started to struggle to pay for train fares & travel. I even auditioned for the X factor and got rejected (thank fuck lol). Without youtube as a platform it’s unlikely I would have been heard or had the confidence to continue pursuing a career in music. Overtime I started to get more views / subscribers and eventually an artist I was and still am a huge fan of, @example, seen my video of me covering his song stay awake. He offered me my first full tour, academys and then arenas (terrifying) and from then on it escalated quickly. I released an EP and my incredible youtube fanbase, having heard the songs in these videos went to buy it on iTunes and got it to #6 in the charts. I’m forever grateful for that day because it fully changed my life! I then got playlisted on radio 1 & signed my first record deal. This meant I could move to London to work i studios there every day. Without starting my youtube channel, having the fanbase that I have & a bit of luck on the way, none of this would have ever happened. Today I’m in Glasgow with youtube speaking to young artists to try encourage them and perhaps even you, to give it a go. Hopefully my story can remind you even if you aren’t from a musical family, rich background or have the connections around you there is still a chance to get where you want to be. I honestly pinch myself on a daily basis that this is my career and I have all of you to thank for that 🥰

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Performing at the event was Nina Nesbitt, who launched her music career by uploading videos of covers to her YouTube channel. We caught up with the Scottish singer-songwriter, to chat Scottish success and how you can launch your music career with YouTube.

Why did you initially decide to start uploading covers to YouTube?

I was still in school and wanted to see what strangers on the internet thought about my voice. I was a very shy person and found performing really difficult so I thought YouTube would be a good alternative. I also just really enjoyed writing and wanted to share my own songs.

What role did YouTube play in launching your music career, and how has it continued to help you through the years?

I definitely wouldn’t be where I am without YouTube. It was instrumental in building a small fanbase early on and many of those fans are still with me now. I think it’s been nice for people to see the progression and evolution of my music. I think streaming sites are amazing for song discovery but YouTube is still essential for personality content and people getting to know you.

How do you feel YouTube, and social media in general, has helped you connect with your fans?

It’s given me control over my own career which is great. Labels and industry contacts can help aid my career and give me opportunities but the social media fan connection and relationship is the most important. YouTube and social media has allowed me to directly share things, get my personality across, call things out if they’re incorrect and get to know my audience.

What are some of your top tips for aspiring musicians who want to grow their following and their fan community through creating a YouTube channel?

Make your content interesting and unique. More than ever people want to get to know the artist. It isn’t enough to just put out music nowadays. There are lots of creative things you can do on a small budget to get started. Also look at those around you, perhaps aspiring videographers, photographers, other artists to collaborate with.

Scotland has such an exciting and ever-growing music scene – how does it feel to be a part of that community and be showcasing it when you perform around the world?

When I first started I didn’t really have any Scottish music peers or anyone I knew doing the same thing but over the years it’s been amazing to see it grow. There was a huge lack of opportunity when I started out and to see events like this coming to Glasgow and further is really great for aspiring artists. I think by other artists such as Lewis Capaldi gaining recognition, it opens the door for other Scottish artists.

What do you enjoy most about coming home to play shows in Scotland?

It’s definitely a different type of crowd to anywhere else in the world. It honestly does feel like coming home to play for your family and friends. I think Scotland as a country and community really get behind their artists more than anywhere else because they want to see them succeed. Also a lot of my lyrics are about growing up there and I think people can relate to them which helps.

What advice would you have for any other young people who are in the process of kickstarting their music career?

Work really hard, say yes in the beginning, make the best music you can make, be nice, try find something unique about yourself and have a laugh. People want to work with you more when they have a good time. I find that’s what gets people motivated.

Nina will return to St Lukes in Glasgow on 2 December on her upcoming tour. 

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