YouTube views can earn you money over a period of time, but offering your services to a local store could pay even more. Here's how to become a video demonstrator in your spare time…
You'll need a way of recording and editing your videos, but this doesn't need to cost a fortune. Your smartphone will most likely shoot video to a decent standard, and if you have only one camera, you can shoot close-ups and other gear shots afterwards. What will really set you apart from the clichéd groin-shot-with-fuzzy-sound video demo is your audio...
People want to know how a piece of gear really sounds; this means you need to capture your audio as transparently as possible. Electric guitars can be captured directly using an amp modeler, but don't rely on the mic from your phone.
Get a decent mic for capturing amps and acoustics and record into a mutitrack, field recorder or DAW. If your amp has an emulated output, consider this. You can use the audio from your phone to help with syncing later...
Keep the chat brief...
How many times have you clicked on a video demo, only to get five minutes of mumbled waffle? People want to hear the gear, not you, so open with some playing, keep the talking to a minimum and get to the good bit, quickly.
What are you demoing? If it's a high-gain distortion pedal, it's probably best to keep the smoky blues licks and jazz comping to a minimum.
That said, you need to demonstrate what the gear can do, so if it's a versatile piece of kit - show it! Your goal is to answer the questions people have about a piece of gear.
Keep it simple
You know who's better at being Guthrie Govan than you? Guthrie Govan, and there are loads of videos of him online already. Play realistic parts well, and remember, this is about the gear, not your technical chops. Try to steer clear of playing over other people's songs, too - YouTube can block videos containing copyright material, and it could affect your ability to earn money from your video.
Simple editing software is all you need to put your videos together. Programs such as iMovie are cheap (free if you buy a new Mac), plus GoPro Studio is available from GoPro's website for free, and works on PC or Mac. You don't even need a GoPro camera to use it! Keep your edit snappy, and use the alternative angles/ close-ups where applicable.
Build your following
If you're planning on becoming a demo guy for a shop or gear company, you need to show that what you can do actually works. Build up a following, title and tag your videos so they're easy to find, and encourage people to subscribe to your channel. Try to give your channel a memorable and relevant name: twanger57333 doesn't roll off the tongue...
When you've built your online video empire, it's time to start approaching potential clients. Do your research before making contact with them; what brands/price-points does the shop stock? Is it suited to your style? Does the shop already have an online presence? What benefits will your demos be to the store (driving sales, raising awareness)? Get this info straight and you'll have the workings of a punchy, targeted pitch.
Seize your moment
Music shops are busy places - particularly independent stores - so you need to time it right. Find out who you need to talk to (the manager, not the work experience kid) and call ahead to arrange an appointment with them.
Visit stores in person, preferably armed with a laptop/tablet loaded with your videos. Be professional, polite and realistic about what you can do and what they will get out of this arrangement. Avoid Saturdays, and don't turn up 10 minutes before they shut.
Make it work
Any guitar store that is producing its own video demos has one main objective: to sell the gear it's demoing. Branding, watermarks, repetitive mentions of the store's name and price of the gear are common features of these kinds of videos, so you'll need to include these. Also, don't forget to include a link to 'buy it now' in your video's description.