In today’s music industry, the status quo has seemingly been flipped on its head. No longer do you need a label or a manager to get yourself in front of people. With programs that are inexpensive – or sometimes free – you can literally create an album on your computer in your bedroom. The ease in which you can share and create music is at an all time high. For the latest edition of I Did It My Way, we sat down with one of the most talented ladies of YouTube in music. Mackenzie Johnson has been writing and making music for years, and during that time, she has been growing quite the following on YouTube. Using YouTube as a way to get herself out there, she has racked up millions upon millions of views on her covers, as well as originals. She was kind enough to take us behind the scenes and drop some serious gems of knowledge.
I Did It My Way Appetizer
I Did It My Way Entrée
coiski: Is there one moment, or person that was the catalyst for you starting your YouTube Channel?
Mackenzie Johnson: For me, it sort of made sense, especially since I wasn’t living in the center of any kind of music mecca, if you will, and I was watching YouTube at the time when people were starting to come up. I would say the first person that I was really taken with was Kina Grannis on YouTube. In fact, it was almost an odd thing to watch her sit in a room with a guitar and then put it up and get traffic. It was such a new concept that was pretty fascinating. From there, I started seeing people, like Christina Grimme, Boyce Avenue and Tyler Ward set a camera up and just record. I think it was the combination of just feeling like people are really using the Internet, and I wanted to be like Kina and Tyler.
coiski: What is your biggest and most successful YouTube video to date?
MJ: Technically, I’m pretty sure it is my cover of Hello by Adele. I have two million views on that one, so I would say that was probably the largest one. Thinking from the perspective of ones that people really connected to, I would say a majority of my original songs. Once I gained a following and had people wanting me to branch out from the covers and listen to my own lyrics, they got to know me on a more personal level. So perhaps, a song like “Pretty.”
coiski: At what point during the management of your YouTube page did you say to yourself, “I made it; this can be a full-time thing.”
MJ: I guess it was about 2-3 years ago that I started noticing the steady rise of subscribers and viewership. It was really after I started posting a video a week (MJ Mondays). I had been working at a gym and trying to find the time to make videos was a little difficult. I found that Mondays worked, and it was almost an accident that I started making videos every Monday. So I was eventually able to brand that as MJ Monday, which has since become a thing. So I would say it started once I began that consistency with the upload schedule and also with the relevancy of the songs. I started to try and find more of what people wanted to hear and what was going to get me to the top of the YouTube searches. It, for sure, took me a while to get it off the ground, but that patience and persistence was key.
coiski: Is it tough to diversify your content while still remaining engaged with your target audience?
MJ: It might sound cliché, but I just find that being myself is probably the number one thing in this whole process. Being me is something that is probably the biggest key to keeping this going. Not trying to completely pander to a certain kind of person. I do have moments where I’m thinking, ‘Is this something that is going to continue to entertain people?’ I always just have to remember to do my best and being myself. Like anybody, I have doubts and think, ‘Is this good content?’ To see people keep coming back is actually really encouraging, and that’s something I never thought I would have found. When I second guess myself, I’ll go and see comments that support me, and that keeps me going.