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Anthony Fantano of The Needle Drop – 700+ YouTube Videos and Still Going

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What does it take to earn a living from a YouTube channel? I’ve asked myself that question a few times, and after coming up with a few great videos that received relatively no views I stopped. While most people have struggled to figure out how to generate enough traffic on YouTube to generate revenue, there are a few who have cracked the code and are doing pretty well for themselves.

Anthony Fantano of The Needle Drop describes himself as the “Internet’s busiest music nerd,” and with over 700+ YouTube videos on deck he has a right to carry that title. While sites like Pitchfork continue to deliver reviews in the conventional blog/text format, Anthony has leveraged the power of videos to create a huge online following that has led to 17 million YouTube video views and viral stardom. Here is a an interview I had last Thursday with the “internet’s busiest music geek” about his creative process and his sweet “labor of love.”

Where did your passion for music stem from?
I’m not really sure, I’ve always enjoyed listening to music as long as I can remember. I think the first album I had that I had that I really listening to, was actually a cassette my mom had with a bunch of Elvis Presley covers.

Then, I started getting into artists that I heard on the radio and tv. When I was kid, I thought the coolest thing to ever have was a boombox because I thought that was much better than having a bike.

Where did the idea for The Needle Drop come from?
The Needle Drop is basically a reference to vinyl.

Do you play any instruments?
I play bass guitar and I was actually in a duo, but the drummer ended up moving to Portugal. Doing that time I started doing The Needle Drop and I decided that I really wanted to concentrate on that.

How much time do you spend to listening music vs creating videos for your YouTube channel?
I definitely spend more time listening to music, because that’s where most of the process comes from. A great deal of time is spent writing down my thoughts like how the music makes me feel, and the editing process can be kind of daunting depending on how long the video is.

How do select the music that you review. Is it based on popularity or personal taste
It’s a combination of both. There are some records that I may review because I think they are awesome and people may never had heard of them. It’s important for me to review albums like that. While it’s nice to get extra traffic on hyped albums, what keeps people coming back to my channel is the fact that I may turn them on to new artists or re-introduce them to artists that may have thought were finished.

How long time did it take for you to build up such a big following on YouTube?
I been putting up videos on YouTube since early 2009 when the YouTube partner channels first started. Before hand, The Needle Drop was just a radio show and music blog, but I decided to do the YouTube videos to experiment. At the time, I didn’t know anyone in the music blogosphere who was covering music via YouTube videos. I didn’t have a fancy website or writing style that would get people’s attention, so I figured me putting myself on camera would be something people would remember.

At what point did you notice things were moving in the right direction?
I don’t know when exactly I realized that. I’m not sure if I realize it now because I don’t get a lot of time to reflect on things like that. I go on my YouTube channel and I see I have made over 700 videos and, I think man I don’t really remember doing so many videos. I enjoy doing it so its fun and its a “labor of love.”

How much time do you devote to The Needle Drop daily?
I stop to eat, go to sleep, and spend time with my girlfriend. Every other waking moment is spent on The Needle Drop. The time is spend doing it isn’t something I even need to think of because I want to do it. It’s like asking how fast are you going? I can’t tell you, I just want to get there.

What are your favorite albums so far in 2012?
Definitely – the Death Grips ‘The Money Store,’ the Perfume Genius Album and the New BadBadNotGood album.

What advice would you give someone looking to create a YouTube channel?
I would look up a guy named Gary Vaynerchuk. In terms of vlogging about a topic that you are passionate about, no one has been more successful than he is.

Do you have any aspirations for expanding outside of YouTube?
Expanding outside of YouTube, but not outside of the internet.