Viewers of my YouTube videos often ask that I make a video of their favorite piece or suggest that I make a video of a particular piece.
Rather than answer each request and suggestion individually, I've decided to explain my situation in this web page.
Making a video is a lot of work
I get the impression that some of my viewers think that I have videos of every piece of music ever composed,
and that all I need to do is upload them. Or that making a video is just a matter of running a recording through a piece
On the contrary: putting a video online takes a lot of work. Here are some of the steps:
- Finding a recording that (a) is good enough, and (b) I can get permission to use. For many recordings I use these days,
this involves paying a license fee. For some, it involves negotiating a contract. Sometimes, I need to do research to
find out whether a composition is under copyright protection (which requires permissions, licenses, and fees in addition
to those required for the recording). If I'm lucky, this process only takes a few hours, but it can take days or weeks
(in some cases, it's taken years).
- Getting a score of the piece. Sometimes, I'm lucky, and I already have the score, or it's easily available online
(e.g. at IMSLP), but if not, I need to either
purchase a score or make a trip to the local music library and photocopy it.
- Entering the score into notation software. If I'm lucky, I can find a MIDI file of the score online, and
I'm able to use that as a starting point. In any case, the score needs to be proofread. Depending on the number of instruments, duration of the piece,
and its complexity, this process can take as little as an hour or as much as several weeks.
- Synchronizing the score to the recording. For music that's relatively simple (no tempo changes, no rubato, etc.),
this takes about as long as it takes to listen to the piece four or five times. If the timing of the piece is not so regular,
it can take a lot longer (e.g. I spent several days on this).
The process is described in more detail here.
- Adjusting the score to match the recording. Often, a performer will add notes (ornamentation), change notes (either
intentionally or not), or play the music differently enough from the score that it doesn't match, visually. In these cases, I need
to adjust the score to compensate for these differences.
- Designing the animation. This is where I decide what style of graphics to use, and adjust the layering, colors,
sizes, speeds of motion, etc. This usually doesn't take too much time (less than an hour), but if I need to add lyrics and synchronize them
to the recording, that can take several hours.
- Rendering and assembling the video. Once the animation has been designed and proofread, the individual frames are rendered
and then imported into a video editing program, where they are combined with the audio, titles and credits are added, and the result is
exported to a video file. This can take a few hours.
- Uploading the video. Besides just clicking "Upload," I need to write the description and do the other "housekeeping" tasks
(like adding it to playlists, telling people about it, etc.).
- Dealing with copyright issues. For almost every video I upload, YouTube's Content ID system identifies it as containing
audio that "might infringe" somebody's copyright. To keep my YouTube account in good standing, I must document that I in fact have the
necessary permission and licenses. This involves filling out forms on YouTube, emailing the entities whose copyrights I'm supposedly
(but actually not) infringing to ask that they remove their claim against my video, filing support requests to YouTube (since this process
often fails to work correctly and requires manual intervention). At one point I was spending an hour a day doing this.
The bottom line is: the simplest possible video takes me several hours to do, and the most complicated ones often take several weeks.
Most videos I've posted to YouTube are somewhere in between, taking a few days.
Making a video is not much fun
Almost all of the work involved in making a video and managing it on YouTube is work I'd much rather not do.
As a result, motivation plays a big part in whether a video gets made. If I don't like a piece of music enough to listen
to it once, there's no way I'm going to listen to it the dozens or hundreds of times that are required as part of making a video of it.
There are many composers who are very popular whose music is, for me, somewhere on the spectrum from boring to profoundly unpleasant.
The list of "I'll probably never do a video of ..." composers includes (but is not limited to) these well-known composers:
Rachmaninoff (though I have done a video of an arrangement he did of a piece by Bach),
In addition to videos I wouldn't make because I couldn't stand to, there are videos I wouldn't make for some other reason.
At one point, I compiled a list of these
(so that viewers could be spared the trouble of requesting them), but I've since realized that (a) maintaining this list takes time away from
making videos, and (b) I sometimes change my mind (several items on this list ended up as videos).
My time is spoken for
When I was younger and more optimistic and energetic, I imagined that I'd get around to all the music I thought was
worth doing videos of, and all the requests made by viewers of my videos,
and I started compiling a to-do list.
Now, however, I have no such illusions. That list is now just the tip of the iceberg of music I'd like to do videos of, and it's becoming painfully
obvious (nearing my seventieth birthday), that even if I made videos full-time (as full-time as I can bear) and managed to live as long as
my parents did (and kept more of my faculties than they did), I would not be able to get around to everything on my list (not to mention that
there are lots of other projects I'd like to spend my time on).
And, besides ...
Some viewer wants any video I might make
Even if I had time to make videos based on requests from my viewers, the question would be: which requests should I heed? My videos have
millions of viewers, and every viewer has their own wishes for what pieces I should make a video of. For any piece I might consider making
a video of, there's probably some viewer who would have requested it (if I were to open the door to all requests).
So, in the end, the decision about which music to make a video of would still have to be up to me.
If there's a piece of music you'd like me to do a video of, you have two alternatives:
1. Hope that I feel the same way about it that you do, and that I will eventually get around to it.
(For many videos I post, there's a comment "I was waiting for you to do this.")
2. Pay to underwrite the production of a video.
Okay, then what ARE you going to do doing videos of?
These days, I seldom know what video I'm going to make next until I start working on it.
What are you looking at?