How did this all start?
I began by posting up videos on Youtube, just to test it out. I heard there were a lot of people posting videos and they were getting comments. I had written an original album, hadn’t released it at that time, and I was like, ‘Let me post up one of my original songs and see if anybody comments.’ So I posted Falling For You, and immediately people reacted. I was like a kid in a candy store. A few comments turned into hundreds, turned into thousands – it just kept taking off. I kept on posting up videos online and testing out the waters, seeing what people liked about my music, what they didn’t like, and it’s just been an amazing journey. I posted up one of my original songs called Angel, and I that noticed the response was like no other video I had posted. Within a week and a half I got 1.5 million hits on it. Now it’s at 7 million. It became a viral video, and I was on Entertainment Tonight! It’s really been a rollercoaster ride ever since.
A lot of people see Youtube and the internet in general as the death of the music industry. What do you think?
It feels like the complete opposite. I understand people are not buying CDs anymore, because they can download or view it online, but without Youtube I don’t know what I’d be doing right now. I’d probably still be in music, but it wouldn’t be at this magnitude. How would I reach people? And often when you sign with a major record label, you’re literally suffocated. They tell you how to dress, how to have your hair, what to do. I like being me. And I don’t want to have to change in order to conform to a mould. So how would I reach people, how would I get to the masses as just me? Youtube has helped me reach a broad audience that I otherwise would never have.
So is Youtube the new radio?
I believe so. MTV no longer exists, you know? There are not so many music videos on it any more. And what I love about Youtube is that it’s not controlled. You can go on there and see anything, you can play or post whatever you want. On radio you hear the same thing over and over again.
Are there a lot of artists being discovered on Youtube, then?
I think there is so much talent out there that nobody even knows of. But it’s also hard to get noticed on Youtube. Obviously, you need good songs, but there’s more to it than that. It’s really hard to get noticed, and I know so many people who are incredible, and I’m like, ‘How do you only have a few views?’ It’s just hard.
So did Maze find you online?
They saw one of my Youtube videos and contacted me. I was in Dubai about seven years ago and I loved it, so I’ve always wanted to come back to the Middle East. But that’s how people reach me, they contact me. I respond to 40 or 50,000 comments. I’m in constant communication with people. I think that’s helped, because it’s not like I’m untouchable or people can’t try and connect with me.
Any crazy people?
Some, I guess [laughs]. I get comments all the time, like ‘You suck!’, but honestly I take it with a grain of salt. There are no comments that really get to me, though. The constructive criticism I don’t mind at all.
Any tips for aspiring Youtube sensations out there?
The first thing I’d say is don’t give up. I get messages from people all the time saying, ‘I’ve posted up some songs on Youtube and I’m not getting any hits’, but I tell them not to stop. When I first started posting, it’s not like I immediately got crazy hits. I had to work at it, so giving up is definitely a big no-no. Also, try to get some traction. I notice when people post cover songs, it shows up in the search engine, so a lot more people will be able to see them. That’s a big thing. And just persevere; just keep on going for your dream. There are other ways to get out there. You don’t even need expensive studio equipment – there are some videos I do where I don’t even use a microphone, or one where I’m sitting in my car singing. If it’s good, people will let you know. And if it’s not, they’ll tell you.
Watch Lisa Lavie at Youtube.com/lisalavie. Her first album, ‘Everything or Nothing’, is available on iTunes