Ep. 20: Behind the Scenes with Sheet Music Boss: Samuel Dickenson and Andrew Wrangell

Episode Description:

With 3.35 MILLION subscribers and over 1.4 BILLION views, they are the most successful sheet music channel on YouTube where they post a new arrangement every single day. We go behind the scenes and talk about their compositional process, how to navigate YouTube, what working as a team is like, publishing through musicnotes.com and much more.

Featured On This Episode:
Samuel Dickenson and Andrew Wrangell

The creators of Rush E! Easy, medium and hard piano tutorials with a NEW video every day. Learn your favourite game music, classical piano or pop songs with SMB!

Episode Transcript:

*Episode transcripts are automatically generated and have NOT been proofread.*

Today I’m welcoming Australian composers Samuel Dickinson and Andrew Rangel, creators of Sheet Music Boss, a popular YouTube channel that posts piano tutorial videos of popular songs every single day.


With more than 3 million subscribers and over 1 billion views, they are the most popular and successful sheet music channel on YouTube and a dominant force in the self-publishing industry. We talk about their process, how to get the most out of YouTube, and at the end of the episode, they’ll break down a few of their most popular songs for us. Hi.


Hello, Garrett. Well, thank you to both of you for doing this. I’m really excited to talk to you because one of the things that I did in the pandemic, you know, a lot of the work went away and I was kind of sitting around bored.


And one of the things I realized is, oh, man, I really need to get serious about YouTube and getting my arrangements and compositions, you know, and getting my YouTube channel going. And so, of course, I’m a huge nerd, so the first thing I did was go and Google sheet music, you know, to see what was up there. And, of course, you guys are right there on the top of the mountain.


You have a really detailed description of how everything happened on your website, but if you could just maybe give the short version of your origin story about how you came to be and what you guys are doing for listeners that maybe aren’t familiar with you. Would you like to take that one, Sam? Yeah. So Andrew and I were discussing after our music degrees how we’re going to make some money.


And we thought, well, there’s a possibility of paying the rent with sheet music royalties should we want to arrange some piano sheet music. Sheet Music Plus had this Arrange Me program which offered some 20% royalty or something, so we decided we’re just going to make as much sheet music as possible and try and promote it on YouTube and see if we can sell it, pay the rent. And that sort of blossomed out into what you see today.


Obviously, the whole philosophy of the channel has been shifting and moving to more entertainment and fun stuff rather than just only doing pure piano arrangements. But, yeah, that’s basically where the channel started. All right.


Yeah. And were you every day from the very beginning uploading a new arrangement? Oh, yes. So from February, it was like February 16th or something, or February 10th, actually.


I can’t remember, 2017. We’ve uploaded at least one video every single day and on very rare occasions too. So for five years you’ve kept that up.


That’s incredible. What’s that creative process like then? Are you taking turns? Are you working together? Are you going back and forth? What’s the behind the scenes? Shall I answer this one, Sam? Yeah, yeah. Yeah, so basically I start everything off and Sam finishes everything off.


I have a bit of help, but that’s the TLDR. So I will decide on something to make. I will make the MIDI and the audio, finalize those, make a beginning on the sheet music, and hand everything over to Sam.


So Sam will finish off all of those things. He’s more of an engraving expert than me. Sam will put the video together, and we have a bit of help from Sam’s fiance, Joe, as well, sorting things out.


She’s become a bit of a business manager for us, which is really good because I like making arrangements and Sam likes making sheets. So it’s a really good well-oiled machine by this point. It didn’t start off quite that way, but we’ve settled into distinct roles, and it seems to work pretty well now.


Yeah, so how do you choose what songs you do? Whatever we think will be popular with the audience, but it can be pretty difficult because we might not know what exactly is going to be popular at the time. For example, at the moment, it’s a bit difficult figuring out what’s really big and popular. I’m not quite sure.


So we just pick some video game stuff, a bit of pop music. It’s the million-dollar question, really, what to arrange. Often I’ll just pick something because I just found it somewhere while listening to YouTube videos.


One thing I made because I was listening to a Super Mario spoof cover on Silver Gunner, and it had, ooh, ee, ooh, ah, ah, and I was like, I’ll just arrange that because that’s fun. Yeah, I mean, you have quite a mix. I mean, sometimes they’re more advanced.


Sometimes it’s more easy piano. Is there some larger strategy behind that, or is it just whatever you’re feeling creatively? I mean, I guess if you’re doing something every day, right, you have to kind of just at a certain point go with it, right? To begin with, we were thinking, let’s do lots of easy piano tutorials, and so we did. But then I found I didn’t enjoy making them so much, and I wanted to make more musically satisfying ones.


So that’s how we ended up doing lots of hard ones. Yeah. As far as the content strategy goes, though, we actually do have a rough one trying to release novelty videos on a regular basis, something that we think is, like, more entertaining rather than, say, educational, you know what I mean? And is not necessarily a performable piece… Right.


..or compilation of pieces on piano. And also on that same vein, albums as well, which, of course, we’ve got going up on Spotify. We’re just so proud to have our content living on in that space as well.


So is both of your backgrounds in piano, is that what you studied at university? Andrew, do you want to take that one? Oh, sure, sure. We’re both piano players and had reached a level of competency on it, but we studied composition at university. That’s where we met in first year and we became good friends and just hung out a lot.


So we got to know each other. So, yeah, we both have that piano background, but more focused on composition. And I’m not really much of a performer.


I don’t really like it that much. I prefer to be behind the scenes. Sam does a lot more performing than me, but more on double bass.


Yeah, yeah. I’m not really much of a piano performer. I do have some piano skills.


I’ve done some accompanying and small performing, stuff like that. But I’m definitely not in the realm of a concert pianist. Definitely not up to scratch with Andrew’s skills as well, let’s say.


But yeah, I do perform a lot in community music groups and some professional music groups on double bass around in Brisbane. The name of the channel is not Piano Boss or Piano Sheet Music, it’s Sheet Music Boss. But so far you’ve only uploaded piano music.


Is that correct? As far as actually what’s showing on the channel itself goes, it’s almost completely piano arrangements and originals. But, I mean, discounting like that one Rush E for two violins that we uploaded, we have actually started making an effort to upload instrumental lead sheets for single line instruments, common ones like violin, clarinet, flute, saxophone, you know, just some very common single line instruments of our most popular sheet music. That hasn’t been promoted on the channel itself in video format, but it has… But if you’re looking for the song, it would show up, right? Yeah, you could probably find that if you typed the name of the song, the name of your instrument that you play and Sheet Music Boss or something like that, you know, or if you searched our artist profile or something of that matter on our music notes.


Okay, so you mentioned the focus of the channel sort of evolving and shifting over time. Is that because your subscriber base has grown so big or is that just because musically you wanted to do different things? Can you maybe talk a little bit about how you kind of evaluate the business and what you’re doing as it progresses? I mean, you mentioned on the website you were just hoping to get a thousand subscribers, you know, in the first year and now you’re close to three million, right? And so I guess what I’m asking is, do you feel like you need to change what you’re doing as you get more subscribers? Or is that the reason you’re getting those subscribers is because they like what you’re already doing and so it’s more a matter of just keeping the course? I reckon they go hand in hand because the channel grew as a result of us trying to look at the comments and seeing what people liked and what were they asking for, then following that and doing some suggestions from the audience members. So we tried to be adaptable from the beginning and I think that’s a big reason it did well.


But we want to keep doing that. We don’t want to just stay static. It can be a bit difficult to decide which direction is going to be best, but I think it’s one feeds into the other, really.


Do you have anything to add to that, Sam? I mean, we’ve definitely been evolving and reacting to what the audience has been wanting or has been responding to. So in that way, the audience has been, well, our audience has been responsible for some of the changes on the channel. But at the same time, we’ve seen some things, we’ve overseen some things, some changes, which we’ve decided we’re not exactly sure how the audience would respond to this, but we believe that over time they will come to like it as much as we do.


And those are, say, the visual changes to the channel. So we started with a very basic synthesia output with some minor colour changes. And then we’ve since then been working with Lyric Wolf and his Embers software, which has been just fantastic.


And for a brief stint there, we were working with Concert Creator. And all of those visual changes were, like, say, creative visions that we had that this would benefit the channel as a whole. Do you see a correlation between how popular a video is and how well the sheet music sells? Maybe a bit, but not necessarily, because I think the best-selling one is not the most viewed one, for example.


Don’t you reckon, Sam? No, I think there is a correlation. Some of our most viewed videos, though, are probably often not possible to play on piano as well. A lot of them are, and those do sell well.


So, say, for instance, the Rush E playable version is definitely our best-selling sheet music on the Gumroad platform. But, say, for instance, our best-selling sheets on music notes, things like Billy Joel, Piano Man is one, and probably, I’d say, Megalovania is going to be giving up there as well. There’s a few tracks that we have up there that have very high viewership on YouTube and have very high sales figures compared to other videos on YouTube.


Sorry, compared to other sheet music. But they don’t necessarily have the biggest viewership. They are often well-viewed, not necessarily the most viewed.


Well, that makes sense. I mean, I suppose the easier arrangements might sell better, even though they may not be as exciting to listen to. I guess I’m asking, how do you balance the two? Does the YouTube ad revenue bring in more than the sheet music sales at this point, or does it depend on the month? How does that work out, if you don’t mind sharing? Yeah, we’re happy to share that.


Well, the sheet music sales don’t bring in as much on a monthly basis as the advertising revenue from YouTube. But at the same time, a lot of those sheets that sell well, they continue to sell over time, whereas the video itself may not be as well-viewed month to month. So it’s a different type of income that’s going through there.


I see, that makes sense. You mentioned MusicNotes in your answer previous to this. At some point, you partnered with them, correct? Could you maybe talk about what that relationship has been like and how that fits into the story? Yeah, so we’d been going for a few months at the time MusicNotes first reached out to us, and that was when they were first starting to work with YouTube artists and so on, because they said they could license anything that we wanted to arrange, whereas we were previously limited to a set list of arrangements.


So they saw our channel, which was pretty small at the time, but they saw that we had potential, and we started working with them and ended up publishing everything that needs licensing through MusicNotes, and they were really wonderful to us from the start. It’s really fantastic to work with them. Really highly recommended, I’d have to say.


Working with a distributor like that, did that change your approach or your process? Because there’s so many steps involved. You have to upload, or you have to record everything, engrave everything, make the video. You’ve got to get it to MusicNotes in time to get it on their site.


I mean, all of these different steps. How do you manage so many titles, and how do you keep everything up to date? Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.


I can certainly take this. Well, as far as the process itself goes, some of the editorial little tidbits that we had to do on the previous platform, we don’t currently have to do with MusicNotes because they put everything into their own house style for their own little software that views the sheet music. Some of the detail I’d previously put in sheets, I just don’t need to anymore because of that shift in house style.


So it makes my process a little bit quicker in that regard. So essentially, the links for all of the sheet music products, once they’re published, are stored on a spreadsheet catalog, which essentially has all of the projects on separate rows with all of the necessary information, including that sheet music and YouTube link there. Okay.


Let’s get into the YouTube side of things a little bit. As they’ve updated their algorithms and things, do you find yourself having to go back a lot to older videos and, I don’t know, adding more hashtags or updating descriptions or that sort of thing? We have actually gone back and updated the descriptions of some videos, and that’s mainly if we’ve changed affiliates. Say we’re currently affiliated with Flowkey, and we use their affiliate link in our video descriptions.


That’s one thing that we’d update for. At one stage, we used to run a Patreon account, and we had to remove those where they were no longer necessary because the link wasn’t active and, you know, include our Discord link for all those videos which were released before we had our Discord server live, things like that. So we don’t typically go back and try to mess with the SEO too much of our older videos.


We try to abide by best practices as we went, even though, say, a lot of them won’t have hashtags in the older videos. But mainly the changes that we do on a mass scale are just for those, you know, links and updating information type things. As for the YouTube side itself, 99.9% of the effectiveness of the video is just the thumbnail and the title, and we’re not really going to be changing those.


So, yeah, for the YouTube side, there’s not really much point to changing descriptions and so on in that respect. Yeah, so I guess what would your advice be to somebody starting out on YouTube right now? What kinds of things matter the most? What would you focus on? What would your advice be? Well, some of my advice would be that flashy thumbnails and titles are great to get people to actually click on the video, but if you don’t have substance to the video in what you’re trying to produce, whether it be music or comedy or commentary, if there isn’t actually substance to the content, people won’t stay, and that won’t help you retain… Like, it won’t help you in the algorithm to get more clicks on these videos from your channel because YouTube will then understand those videos to have a very low viewership, et cetera, like that. So I’d say, for me, you want to produce often.


You want to have a regular schedule so people can tell when you’re actually going to be uploading next and they have something to look forward to. Then you also want to have the highest quality that you’re able to produce of what you do. So for us, we saw something that was working for other channels, and we talked amongst ourselves and thought that we could produce something of higher quality on a regular basis, that being one every day, and we stand behind that quality.


So for me, those are the two big things. Titles, thumbnails are super important, but make sure that you’ve got the quality of the field that you’re going for to hold it up. Oh, and also the regularity of uploads, yeah.


Okay, that’s good advice. Has YouTube itself changed a lot in the last five years? Is that something you’ve had to grapple with? I mean, aside from the whole getting banned thing, I guess, I don’t know if you want to bring that up or not, but… Yeah, when we got suspended or the strike or once or twice, whatever happened, it would have been nice if YouTube had been more transparent or at least not punished us for something we didn’t do wrong because when they fixed it, they’re like, oh, sorry, that was a mistake. But there wasn’t much, oh, we made a mistake and we realised how anxiety-inducing that was.


It wasn’t really like that. It was more like, oh, well, here you go. Here’s your channel back.


I don’t know if the fundamentals of YouTube have changed that much. Maybe the vertical video aspect is the biggest change, in my opinion, and I’m not sure how well we’re going to do with using that format because, one, we don’t really watch it and aren’t that interested in it and, two, we’re not really sure exactly what to make to address that kind of content. So maybe we’ll come up with something.


I would say that’s one of the biggest changes because there’s heaps of changes, but I can’t really remember what all of them are because it’s so day-by-day and everything happens slowly in that moment. But if you look back for five years, you’re like, okay, it has changed a bit. What do you reckon, Sam? Yeah, I’d say due to a lot of recent well-news events, say in the last few years, and I’m sure people know what they are, it’s caused a lot of jumpiness in the community standards of things that you might have otherwise been comfortable to include innocuously in a description now could cause your video and potentially your channel to be taken down.


So it’s a matter of like sometimes vetting things, like innocuous things, and removing them, whereas otherwise you would have been able to just chill about it. I don’t want to specify too much because then that could even get picked up. Look at this video taken down.


On this video, yeah, yeah, exactly. But I mean, I gather what you’re saying is if you’re trying to be humorous about something, you have to be careful, right? Yeah, yeah. It’d be fun to just relax and not really care, but it might take everything down.


Yeah, especially if it is ultimately something innocent and doesn’t have anything malicious behind it. So you mentioned the change to vertical video. I’m wondering if you’ve had any success in video on other platforms or if you’ve ever considered like uploading to Facebook or Instagram or TikTok.


I mean, moving on to some of those other platforms, it seems to me like you’ve been pretty laser focused on the YouTube thing. Is that because you tried it and it didn’t work the same or is it just because there’s only so much the two of you can do? More the latter, yeah. There’s just a limit to our capacity, so we’d love to have a bit more of a broad strategy, and we probably ought to, but we’re pretty full up the rest of the time doing a video a day and then doing other things and having a life outside it as well.


It can be hard to do everything. We’re a little unsure about how some of the platforms are monetised as well because it would require such a large amount of effort and contribution from us. We’d really need to see some sort of return on that effort to make it worth it.


Just speaking from a pure business sense. Well, I think a lot of our listeners have to grapple with those kinds of questions, and there’s so many platforms now. Would your advice be to just pick one and focus on it, or would it be, I mean, if you were starting the channel today or if you were starting to sell sheet music today, would you do anything differently? I think that Andrew and I would probably still have decided today to choose YouTube as the platform because it is the platform where you can monetise your videos in this way, and especially because we deal with a lot of music that is cover music, so it needs to have some form of revenue sharing agreement with the original owner of the composition, which is, you know, big record labels and things.


So some of that stuff, a lot of that stuff, which comprises a large amount of our content, it needs to have agreements in place. Otherwise, on other platforms, it could just simply be taken down altogether. Anything to add, Andrew? Probably the same.


Probably because I watch YouTube and I don’t really use other platforms that much, so I think I would probably come off as a bit of a boomer on some other platforms because I don’t know what to do on them. So I’d probably do things the wrong way or something. For example, TikTok, there’s a whole manner to upload your videos and probably a culture that I just don’t understand, so I don’t really want to just come off the wrong way and not get it and look silly.


Well, I’ve always had the impression that YouTube was by far the most valuable platform, at least for advertising sheet music, and I think it just has to do with there’s sort of a, I don’t know, a how-to atmosphere about it or, you know, a DIY aspect to it where people are going on there to learn things, and so that makes it a useful, I guess, platform for sharing sheet music and that kind of thing. I don’t know that people on TikTok are sitting there watching sheet music scroll by. It’s just a different purpose.


But I’m with you. I’m not sure exactly. I want to have an understanding of anywhere that I’m trying to make things, and I understand YouTube better than I understand other platforms, so that’s all I’ve got really.


Well, so here’s the $3 million question then. How did you guys manage to grow your following so big? Was it purely… It felt like a fluke. We just set out to make a lot of material, lots of sheet music, lots of videos, one a day because PewDiePie uploaded every day at that point, and we thought, okay, let’s do that and just throw everything at the wall, see what sticks, and it turned out that it grew faster than we expected.


So we were really surprised. We just put our best effort in, put the best quality and best effort, and presented that, and the YouTube algorithm took it off. And when you say the YouTube algorithm, it sounds like the algorithm is pushing it out to people, but the way it works is more that everyone has a very specific tailored feed of videos that will serve what YouTube thinks will make them watch for a long time.


So it will start serving a video from a new channel if YouTube thinks that that will keep the person watching. So in that way, videos would have started to appeal to people, and maybe there would be repeat viewers, and then their viewership would mean that YouTube saw them as worth testing the waters on new people. So it is a very gradual growth like that and pretty organic, and we never used any advertising, or I don’t think we even posted on our social media at all that we were doing a channel.


It was just, let’s just upload videos, and eventually they started to pick up, probably because people were searching for that song on piano or a tutorial for it, and I think that those things together seemed to make it grow, and we didn’t know what to expect. We thought, okay, 1,000 subscribers at the end of the year would be really nice, and it far exceeded that. So I know we just kept putting our very best effort in, and we keep doing that, really.


There’s always things we can do better, but that was our strategy. I think to add to that, it’s not only that we put our best foot forward, it was that we tried to continually improve upon what we were doing, and whether that was thumbnails or aspects of the audio production or choice of music. One of the other things that we did that I think really helped grow our channel was we kept an eye on what types of videos people were responding to.


This really made a big difference when we released, like, a hit video, when we did, like, the Russian folk songs, and people had this really strong reaction to it. So we really leaned into that music for a while there, which the audience clearly really enjoyed and helped bring in a lot more people to the channel. I feel like if we uploaded more Russian folk music now, people would also have a very strong reaction to that.


Yeah, in a different way. Yeah. Yeah, that’s something, isn’t it? You’ve mostly talked about doing arrangements and covers, but you’ve also done some original music.


What do you see as the pros and cons of that? I mean, you’re both composers. I assume you want to share your own creations with the world. Does that fit within this model, or is it not possible really to promote new music in the same way? I’m happy to answer this one.


So first, it takes a lot more time and creativity and effort and energy to make anything original. So because I’m arranging most of the tracks, I bulk a bit at that, and it’s much easier to arrange something by ear that already exists, and it’s like, okay, I just need to do that, and that’s good. Here, Sam, here you go.


Original things will take a lot more thinking. I think I spent, you know, three days on Rush E2, something like that, which was worth it, but it’s also a risk because it’s very possible that you put a huge amount of effort into something, and it does no better than something you knocked out in 20 minutes. So that’s the risk there.


I do like making original music, but, yeah, it just takes so much more energy, so it’s a bit of a balance. At the same time, that original stuff can sometimes do amazingly well, so it’s worth taking the risk, but it is very disappointing when you put your best effort into something and had really high hopes for it, and then people just don’t care. They’re not interested, and you’re like, well, why did I put all the effort in? I’ll just knock over something else, and people really like that, and you’re like, okay, I guess I’ll just do all the low-effort stuff that people are going to watch.


So it’s a balancing act in every respect, but it’s very satisfying when something original takes off. We never, ever would have expected what happened with the Rush videos and Rush E. That’s kind of out of nowhere. I guess we can see that it was set up for success in some ways, but we never anticipated what would happen, and I don’t think you can engineer it either.


You put something out, and then everyone else will take it in whichever direction they like, and if they like it, that’s fantastic. It’s really nice. Definitely.


So when you’re creating music on this scale, do you feel like you have to follow sort of a formula, or do you feel like it’s important to not do that because otherwise it would get stale? I think it’s valid. Go for it, Stan. I was just going to say I think from Andrew’s arranging perspective, and he’ll elaborate on this, like every track requires quite a different treatment, but at the same time it’s being arranged under the same hand, and if you really take a look under the microscope, you can detect Andrew’s hand or our other collaborators’ hands in those arrangements, and I think that that character that they bring to the table is appealing to a lot of people.


Yeah, I think it can get a bit formulaic as well to answer your question, and maybe for that reason when we release a lot of generic videos, they don’t perform like a smash hit. Sometimes they’ll do really well. If it’s particularly topical, for example, some of the cyberpunk edge runners’ music has done particularly well, and that’s just a standard arrangement from our point of view, but so many factors that influence whether a video is popular are not in our hands, so it’s up to us to choose good repertoire that people are going to enjoy and want to listen to, and then we just hope that the quality carries it through.


There’s a lot of things that I’ve put my heart and soul into to get amazing quality, and they’re some of the worst-performing videos on the channel, so it’s hard to anticipate. But again, we just keep making one a day and do our very best. Do you think there’s something about piano music that lets it perform better on YouTube than, say, I don’t know, if I wanted to go start Trombone Boss and upload trombone arrangements every day? Do you think it’s more about the instrument and just the fact that tons of people play piano, or is it because of the synesthesia, or is it just because you two are amazing? I think there’s a couple of things to that, yeah.


So one of them is simply the lower barrier to entry and accessibility of the instrument. So for a piano, a lot of people see it as you press key, you get the notes, and the ability to reproduce some of the melodies themselves seems so much more attainable than trying to pick up, say, a string instrument and produce a sound that isn’t scratchy or a wind instrument and something that, a sound that isn’t honky. You know, there’s a lot more complexity in those instruments.


Plus a lot of families and people have a piano or a keyboard already, or they have access to it at their schools or community groups and things like that. So there’s this built-in accessibility to the piano. But there’s also this visual enticement, as you were saying, with the synesthesia, or in our case, the embers output, where it’s very visually satisfying to watch this come down like a sort of like a piano guitar hero.


And that visual excitement also, you know, has a huge contribution to the success of it. I’d say that the value for most people is not in actually learning piano. That’s only going to be a very small subsection.


Most of it’s the entertainment value. And people, friends of mine have said it’s just interesting to watch all the notes fall down towards the piano and see what they do and some of the particle effects and things. And then it’ll be the choice of music might be relevant.


It might be from a popular series or it might have a fun novelty element to it, which is something that we try and do one video of every week. So I’d say, yes, that entertainment quality. Do you have any advice on the technical side of things, either with the creating the videos or with the notation, just things you might suggest? To someone else starting a similar channel? That’s right.


I’d probably look at, there’s various visualizer options out there. My best suggestion would be to have audio performances that are natural. A lot of people will create a notation of their arrangement and export that MIDI and then have that created as audio and it sounds pretty lifeless.


It doesn’t have phrasing, nuance, and character in it. So that’s the biggest difference with what we do because I’m playing everything in and adjusting it to get the phrasing exactly the way I want it and bring out the character and the life and vitality in it so it will sound like it has those and that’s a big difference between us and a lot of other visualizer channels. A lot of visualizer channels will do that whereas what we do has got the phrasing and life of more of a live performance except we have the advantage of it being MIDI and a visualizer so we can make a lot of videos in a relatively short amount of time whereas when I was filming videos on my own personal channel, it would be three days of work to do one video and I only wanted to do that once a week because otherwise it was just too much.


Yeah. And Sam, you’re doing the notation, right? Yeah, that’s right. And I assume you’re using templates for that.


Are you in Finale or Sibelius? So I use Sibelius. From my point of view, what I receive is Andrew runs the MIDI output through a plug-in and puts in the title and artist and what I’ll do from there is listen through a few passes to the sheet music to notate all of the necessary nuance and articulation without going crazily overboard because you have to reach a point where you stop. But yeah, that’s what I do there.


And I should have asked this before but is this your full-time gig, both of you, or is this still just something you do for fun and then you’re taking your own composing gigs on the side? It’s the other way. I mean, this is the full-time gig and, you know, we both do other stuff outside of the channel. I play some music with groups.


I’ve recently been writing a few pieces of music as well. Andrew does his own stuff as well. I don’t really do very much.


I just do the channel pretty much and then whatever outside. I’m not really doing much playing or anything outside. It’s only been the very occasional thing.


Well, I think you two have really hit on something. In my own experiences collaborating with other people writing music, you can get a lot more done that way because you’re focusing on your strengths. And so, you know, one plus one doesn’t equal two.


It equals five or six or seven. And, I mean, obviously the two of you have a good working relationship and you’ve figured out all the kinks. But I think that’s something maybe people don’t think of as partnering up or finding somebody who compliments their skill sets and working together.


Was that a hard thing to work out in the beginning? Or I guess you two had already known each other for so long, it was probably not that difficult. Yeah, so both of those are correct. At the beginning, it was a little more like I thought, oh, we could each do a bit of each role.


But then we ended up having differing ideas on the same thing and we had to decide, okay, this will be your domain, this will be my domain. And then you have the final say in whichever is your area. And that worked really, really well from there.


Yeah, I mean, we’ve certainly butted heads on some musical issues. And I think what we’ve learned from that is that we need to – that the separation of roles is really important, but not only the separation of roles, but the trust in the creative vision of the other person is very important. There’s only some select things, for instance, that I’ll insist an arrangement is played in a certain way, if it’s a piece that I particularly really have some connection to, probably from childhood, a video game or something like that.


And otherwise I will try to ensure that all of Andrew’s musical ideas and visions are honoured, even if I think there’s one thing that I would do differently. Well, I would be a terrible person if I had you on the podcast and didn’t play some of your music. So Joe sent me two tracks to play.


So the first one is Kalinka. So do one of you want to introduce that piece? I’m happy to. The first time we released this, I got the melody wrong at the end of the phrase.


We put this out and people started commenting and saying, that’s wrong there. And Sam was saying, oh no, it makes harmonic sense and melodic sense. It’s okay.


And I said, no, no, Sam, we’ve got to redo and re-upload this. And I felt a bit bad because it meant redoing a whole lot of stuff. But we did.


And I’m pretty glad because it became a very popular video of ours. So if it had been wrong, then it would have been wrong forever and I didn’t want that. So if we hear the right version, it’s only a small difference, but it mattered that that little phrase was right.


All right. Well, let’s take a listen to Kalinka, an original composition by Sam and Andrew. And then I think we have to end with Rush E because at least when I was looking up information about your videos, because that was your most popular one.


Is that still correct? Yep. So when I looked at 43 million views, so tell us the story of this one and how it came to be and I guess what it is for people listening. I mean, you should definitely go check out the video because it’s worth doing, but could you maybe describe just the chaos that people are about to experience? It was such an accident that it even came about.


Do you want to go into that, Sam? Yeah, yeah, I’d love to. So it actually starts with me way back in the beginning. I released a video, which was a single note piano tutorial of a B and it was the B emoji.


That was just like a popular meme at the time, was just writing the B emoji everywhere. So I made one note of piano going down, hits the B, and then there was 10 minutes of silence, exactly 10 minutes, one second, so that we could put heaps of ad breaks in that video because that was another meme at the time that was popular on things like PewDiePie was that all these creators would make the video exactly 10 minutes, so stretch it out just so that they could fill it full of ads. So we did the same thing, knowing that it was an ongoing joke, but YouTube didn’t see the funny side of it and we got a community guidelines strike for spam.


And they sent us all that, we had to deal with that, but at the same time, even though the video was taken down, it was very, very popular at the time among a lot of people sharing it with other people because they saw the humor in it. And when YouTube took it down, they saw that as us being wronged. So we made a little reaction video to that where we sat at my old house and we riffed on all of the comments that were coming in for that video.


Some of them actually said, why don’t you make the B Russian? To which Andrew said, we should call it Rush B. And we- That was you who said that. Oh, I think it was, yeah, I think I did say that. Yeah, it’s so hard to remember, but from that- It was a gamma strike thing as well, I think.


Yeah, yeah. A or B, Rush A or Rush B, so that was the idea. Got it.


Yeah, and Andrew, again, one of these moments, Andrew and I had different ideas of what to do. I thought we should just do a bunch of Bs that go… Just as like a little up yours to YouTube giving us the community strike. But Andrew had a much better idea, which was to make an entire piece of music.


I didn’t really understand what he was doing at the time. I started with the big wall of Bs and then I thought, oh, well, this could turn into something else, so I just did something else. Yeah, he made a great piece of music that became instantly popular because people tied that injustice that we were served and really, really connected with us sort of making light of that.


And from there, that blew up. We continued that formula with a couple of other things. We did Rush A, people really, really enjoyed that.


I did another single note piano tutorial for that, but not with the 10 minutes of silence. And we also did, eventually, Rush E, which played on that Lord Farquaad Markiplier deep fried meme image with the E, which was popular at the time, but somehow had a resurgence later. And we made that formula, formulated Rush with E and included that meme in the key places in that piece.


From there, I think there was a couple of videos. One person played, pretending to play Rush E on the keyboard. And I think that that made it a bit more popular.


And then it had some copycat ones, and then it just in the hands of the internet, whatever with it. And then Mark Rober made a video that used it. And then there were a bunch of covers.


So that was a fun thing that happened. I’m really happy. All right, well, let’s take a listen to that one.


Here is Rush E. All right, so I wanna thank both of you for taking the time to do this. I really enjoyed the conversation. Is there anything else you’d like to say before we go? Any piece of advice or anything of yourself that you wanna promote before we conclude? I can’t think of anything.


Can you, Sam? I’d say if you want to be a YouTuber or a streamer or something like that, I feel like you need to really enjoy what you’re doing and enjoy putting yourself out there. If you’re doing it because you think this is the only thing that you can do, and it’s just a constant struggle, it’s probably not for you. For us, it was something we never saw ourselves doing, but we only did it because we thought we could contribute something really good.


Had no expectations, and we’re pleasantly surprised. So that’s all I’d say. Well, thanks again to both of you.


Everyone listening, go and subscribe to their YouTube channel, Sheet Music Boss, and of course, check out their catalog of arrangements on Music Notes. Thanks to both of you. Thank you very much, Garrett.


Thank you, thanks, Garrett. Have a good one.