With social media such an important facet of dance music, a few tastemakers have become household names. Enter Nik Cooper, a YouTube channel who started right as EDM broke through the US barrier in 2010. In five years, the channel has amassed 250,000+ subscribers and over 29.5 million views, playing a variety of genres like dubstep, trance, Melbourne bounce, and more. This week, Your EDM sat down with Nik Cooper to talk about the difficulties of starting a YouTube channel, his personal tastes, and abusive YouTube comments.
Can you give us a little background on what inspired you to start your channel?
I always looked at other channels to see what they were doing like UKF. But the breakthrough came once I understood how copyright worked. Many people start YouTube channels but they usually fail. They’re being shut down because they can’t deal with copyright laws.
What was the turning point for the channel?
In 2012, YouTube user Pewdiepie supported my channel. I jumped 5000 subscirbers in a day because he endorsed me; that’s how influential he is. I jumped from 13,000 to 40,0000 in a week and I just realized that people love what I do and that I can be popular and I started taking it more seriously.
Why did you choose an old-timey gentlemen as your logo? It seems so out of place.
There was a pretty cool label called Inspected; their logo is a mustache and I loved the idea of the English gentlemen so I decided to expand upon it.
Were there any other challenges you faced beside copyright?
It was hard to contact people. I wanted to contact big record labels and artists and they either ignored me, or their inboxes had a lot of spam that they never saw my messages. It was hard to reach people and convince artists to let me feature them because the channel wasn’t so big back then.
Was there ever a time when you wanted to quit?
Two years ago I was doing everything right, but it felt like I wasn’t going anywhere. I always want to grow and when I’m stuck I have less motivation. But I usually find a way to break the wall and keep growing, and that’s what makes me wait instead of quitting.
How many submissions do you get a week?Do you have a certain criteria for the music you choose to feature?
I usually get hundreds of submissions a week. I used to have a submission email and I had thousands of messages in my inbox. I couldn’t get through all those emails so I made a submission chart with Wavo.me instead and now I can just listen to the top ranked tracks. As for criteria, I don’t have any, I just upload what I like. There have been occasions where big labels sent in their music or random people will ask, “how much money do you want per track?” but I refuse. I’ll never upload what I don’t like.
You run the channel all by yourself. How much time do you think you spend a day working?
It’s not like I just sit down and work for a certain amount of hours; the channel is just a part of my day. I’m always looking for music, and responding to fans on social media. It would be impossible to say, “okay i’m going to work on videos for an hour, then I’m going to listen to tracks for two hours.”
Do you feel pressure to post a specific genre more than others based on current trends?
I personally prefer genres over others. Before it was dubstep and bass, now it’s progressive house and Melbourne bounce. I just focus on the music I enjoy, not what the current trends are.
Are you involved in the industry other than the YouTube channel?
For now, the channel is the only thing. There have been many times where I’ve helped artists, not as a manager , but simply helping them get in touch with the right people to spread the word. I always try to help people. I have a great relationship with Monstercat so I always recommend tracks that I think fit their sound.
Were there any artists that you featured that are now big artists?
I played Mitis a while back and then pewdiepie featured Mitis on his site too. After that he blew up. Oliver Heldens was actually on the channel three years ago, and now he does deep house.
What are the pros and cons of YouTube vs. Soundcloud?
YouTube servers are much better than Soundcloud’s (laughs). I really need visuals, which SoundCloud can’t offer either. The only thing that can keep my attention is something visual. That’s why I never used SoundCloud. An hour long set is boring to me. Still, I recently decided to make one. It’s too important to ignore. But YouTube will always be my go to because it’s a great platform. A lot of artists and label heads I’ve met said they’re going to shift their focus to YouTube because it’s the next big thing. They’re just having a really hard time with getting people to use it which is why the transition has been slow.
Do you read the comments section of YouTube? Some people are really mean on the Internet!
Yeah, I’m always reading comments and answering followers. There will always be haters, you can’t do anything about it. Some people just do it on purpose to see you get mad. But everyone has their own tastes and opinions, I don’t let it get to me.
What’s more valuable: staying current or having diversity?
I think diversity is more important, featuring more genres instead don’t focusing on one. It’s what allows me to set myself apart from other YouTube channels. You can get more followers the more people you can appeal to. Dubstep will never follow a progressive channel and vice versa.