I consume a lot of content on YouTube. Probably too much. But I get a lot out of it, and I’ve learned a lot about different techniques, software, and gear for both music and photography — mostly from a few key YouTube content creators. While there are literally dozens of channels I watch regularly, these are the ones I watch most often.
Links are not presented in any particular order — THIS IS NOT A RANKING! — though the first two are channels, along with the communities that have grown up around them, that have been particularly instrumental in my understanding of Ableton Live! and its applications in the genres of music I’m creating.
S1gns Of L1fe —
Ambient music producer, sound designer, content creator, and teacher.
Chris from S1gns of L1fe is one of the most dynamic and enthusiastic music YouTube creators I’ve come across. Every one of his videos, whether it be a public live stream or a pre-produced video, is designed to inspire and educate. While many of the videos are sponsored, Chris is clear that you don’t necessarily need the software or gear he’s using to create great music — the techniques he employs can be applied to any similar free software or inexpensive device. Chris also produces and shares a wealth of additional information and example presets on his Patreon page and Discord server.
Synth Seeker —
Synth enthusiast, electronic musician
Luke’s channel was another eye-opener for me. Luke’s musical emphasis is creating Berlin School electronic music using Ableton Live. While he works primarily “in the box,” he also uses a wide variety of hardware synthesizers. Luke is also an excellent teacher, and shares his music-making process regularly. The Synth Seeker Patreon and related Discord server is populated with an active and passionate community of electronic musicians and friends.
Starsky Carr —
Creating unbiased music tech comparisons, reviews, demos & tutorials
Starsky Carr’s channel is a great place to get a look and all kinds of electronic music gear and see (and hear) how it compares to other similar products — some new, some old. Members of the related Patreon page get access to additional content, including samples made from many of the instruments featured on the YouTube channel.
Dash Glitch —
Creating electronic music and music production tutorials
Regular live streams and really well produced tutorials on a wide variety of music production software are a regular feature of the channel, as well as great discussions of both the hows and whys involved. This channel features Bitwig as opposed to Ableton Live, and some of the unique features of that DAW. I believe that if I had come across this channel before TEATRO and Synth Seeker, I would very likely have selected Bitwig as my production platform.
David Hilowitz —
Musician, creator of Decent Sampler, and and YouTube creator
David explores many unique and interesting methods of sound creation, and builds many custom instruments from found objects. As a way to share the sounds from his creations, David created Decent Sampler, a free virtual instrument. Decent Sampler includes a built in store chock full of free and inexpensive instruments created by David and others. What’s more, David has made documentation on creating your own instruments for Decent Sampler freely available.
Martin Stürtzer —
Ambient / Electronic / Dub Techno artist from Wuppertal (Germany)
Martin and his cat, Neptune, started putting on regular “Stay at Home” synth concerts during COVID. The shows usually also feature a lively real time chat for his subscribers, with some great conversation along with the music. Martin also shares his techniques and occasionally showcases new music software and gear.
A creator of stuff … and marathon livestreams
Synkrotron is the channel of Andy, and Andy makes drone ambient music. His live streams are always entertaining and some are quite epic, and he loves sharing his ideas and his music live on YouTube. It’s another channel with a small but enthusiastic following that has some great conversation in the live stream chat.
Free Beat —
Free Beat is where you can find and learn how to create unique beats for free!
Frea Beat is a prog rock drummer from Oregon who started a channel to document his electronic music journey after getting laid off a few years ago. Through a lot of determination, he’s turned the channel and its related community into his full-time job, while still keeping everything low-key, low-cost, and fun. Like the Synth Seeker community, the Free Beat Patreon and related Discord server hosts a group of super-friendly and dedicated enthusiasts.
Videos on the composition of experimental electronic music
Hainbach’s channel is a fascinating look at the art and science of creating experimental electronic music. He uses a wide variety of instruments, both old and new, as well as other electronic equipment that was never intended for music making. In some ways, Hainbach is recreating and expanding the techniques of such pioneers as Delia Derbyshire, Else Marie Pade, Elaine Radigue, and Laurie Spiegel, mixed with those of more contemporary artists like Robert Fripp. He’s released several albums, collaborated on the development of several music apps and plugins, and has also installed his works in museums as performance art pieces, and he also performs live.
Chords of Orion
Frippertronics and ambient guitar methods and gear
Yes, this is a channel dedicated to [mostly] Frippertronic ambient guitar. I’ve included Bill Vencil’s channel in this list because of the way he uses loopers, and the applicability to synths. He also talks about and demonstrates both a great many hardware effects options, but also combining the guitar effects with DAW software.
There are a great many more YouTube channels I view, including Tefty and Meems and Tefty Music Tech, and Jorb Loves Gear (and more!), but the channels listed above are pretty much my favorites and are the ones I visit the most regularly. I hope you’ll check out some of these channels, and mine, too, if you haven’t already.
Speaking of my YouTube channel, I know I’m passed due in putting something out, especially with all the new stuff that’s arrived lately. The studio is almost ready, and I should finally be on track to do something when I return from Knobcon — I have several video ideas in the pipeline.
If you’ve got a favorite music-related YouTuber, or if you have a channel yourself, I’d love to know about it. You can leave a link and description in the comments here.