As I write this, Casey Neistat has 12.5 million subscribers on YouTube, over 3.1 billion total views, and 1,000 videos uploaded. Pretty much everyone in the YouTube world knows his name. He hustled like crazy, posted a ton of content, and grew his now-huge following. And he said it almost ruined his life. So here’s what indie musicians can learn from Neistat.
Consistency Is Key
Neistat got a lot of attention by posting daily vlogs. He started in March 2015 and posted every day for 800 days in a row.
What’s crazy is, during the daily vlogs, he was also building a company that he eventually sold to CNN for $25 million.
And now look at him. He can pretty much retire off of that sale plus his YouTube ad revenue.
One of the keys to his success is his consistency. He stuck with it. He regularly created, edited, and posted videos. He never quit building his business.
And he’s still going, posting videos regularly (but not as frequently).
As indie musicians, we need to learn from this. Those who don’t quit will reach their goals.
Burnout Is Real
How did Neistat build a multi-million dollar company while also posting daily vlogs? He had a “crazy person” schedule, self-admittedly.
In the above video, he shares what his daily schedule was like during the daily vlogs. He worked 10 hours a day and slept 4 hours a night.
“This is, like, a pretty grueling schedule,” he says.
And it almost ruined his life.
“To me, burnout was something that happened to weak people,” he told Philip DeFranco.
But he said he eventually became “as burned out as anyone could ever be.” He said he was “angry all the time,” he hadn’t socialized, he hadn’t talked to his wife, and he hadn’t been present.
“All I was thinking about all the time was my work, 24/7,” he said. “…800 episodes into the vlog, it had destroyed me.”
I think the lesson here is obvious.
While it’s important to work hard and smart toward your goals, burnout is real. It can happen to anyone, especially indie artists pursuing a career in music. You’re probably a one-person team, so you have a lot on your plate.
But please, learn from Neistat: you will destroy yourself if you’re not careful. And years of your life could pass you by.
So set up a schedule that allows you to make progress but still allows you to sleep a full 7-8 hours a night, have friends, and be present with your loved ones.
Your Catalog Will Carry You
As of this writing, Neistat has uploaded 1,000 YouTube videos. That means the average view count on a video is over 3 million.
Having such a deep well of content means people have more of his videos to consume. If they love the first video they see, they’re more likely to keep watching.
Whereas, if he only had 100 videos at this point, each video would have to average 31 million views to have the 3.1 billion views he currently has.
Let’s apply this to people streaming your music…
The more songs you release, the less work each song has to do in order to reach your overall streaming goals.
If you have just one song out, that ain’t going to cut it. But if you have 100 songs out, each song won’t need to get as many streams for you to reach your goals.
Continue to release music. Build your catalog. It is the thing that will carry your music career.
Longevity Leads To Success
Neistat started his YouTube channel in 2010. That’s 13 years ago!
He didn’t start his daily vlogs until 2015. He didn’t sell his multi-million dollar company until 2018. And he had been a filmmaker long before he started YouTube.
My point is, longevity is a key factor in reaching your goals as a musician.
Those who don’t quit end up winning – winning as in reaching the music career they want.
Neistat kept at it. And now he’s a millionaire who probably doesn’t need to work ever again.
Will you be a millionaire musician? Probably not. But you get the picture.
Stay consistent, don’t burn out, continue to build your catalog, and do not quit. You’ll get there.