The New Sound of Applause: It’s Silent, and Data-Driven

publishedalmost 2 years ago
1 min read

Good morning!

After producing nearly 50 videos this year – and learning to play the violin again – I took a four-week break. During that time, the publishing machine that I built has kept going.

In fact, that machine is telling me exactly what to do next: To take more time to produce better video.

I’ve reached early competition level as a violinist. On a technical level, I’m playing how I played at the age of 15. You know what that makes me remember? Youth Symphony.

So, during the next few weeks, I’m going to revisit those days of early auditions and challenges (you’ll love hearing how teen violinists challenge each other to duels), and produce a video series as a “Youth Symphony coach,” with the caveat that absolutely no one should take advice from me.

As for video production, back in July, when I saw that the essays were drawing little audience in written form, I converted an essay to video on a whim. The first time, all I did was read it to the camera. And you know what? It drew a larger audience on YouTube than on Medium in the first 24 hours alone.

But the audience only watched a little of it. Here’s the average watch time on that first effort:

I was encouraged by the audience numbers, however. So I invested in better video production software, pulled in some B-roll, and put the “Ken Burns” on the most recent one.

With the same number of viewers, the watch time dramatically increased:

My goal for the first six months of this project was to “get my fingers back” on the violin. By using YouTube as an accountability measure, I did it. In the process, I reached an intermediate level in both playing the violin and producing video. Now, I’m going to improve my game on both.

However, in order to improve, I’ll be relaxing my upload schedule, as well as my newsletter schedule. To play better, and to make better video, takes time. I can’t learn to play a concerto or produce a good video in a week.

Also, a weekly upload schedule is unrealistic when your YouTube channel involves more than chattering about how to straighten up the garage. Back in early summer, the weekly deadline started to feel like an oppressive hamster wheel.

Of all the goals I had for this project, if I can learn to develop a healthier relationship with work, then I’ll have won the game.

If you missed it, here’s the video that will serve as a model for the next few months of production. It’s a performance diary with vastly improved production qualities, and it drew the longest average watch time from audiences all year:

Thank you for your support, and I'll see you on the Internet!

Rebecca Raney - The Reckless Violinist

Respectable journalist. Terrible waitress. Reckless Violinist. Noir novelist. Longtime contributor at The New York Times. Sign up to follow my cross-platform project about money, merit and music in the turmoil of America.

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