“It’s crazy,” says Carlsbad resident Marty Schwartz, “so far my lessons have gotten over a half a billion hits on YouTube. Not to sound pompous, but I am the number-one online guitar teacher in the world.”
In the early 2000s Schwartz was playing and touring with San Diego bands Wise Monkey Orchestra and Psydecar while juggling a career as an elementary-school music teacher.
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“[I was like a] real-life Jack Black from School of Rock teaching tons of kids guitar and putting little rock bands together. As my student roster grew, I started making video clips of the key points of our lessons and then putting the clips up on this new thing called YouTube so they could practice.”
When the economy took a dive in 2008, Schwartz got laid off from his teaching job, lost a lot of band gigs, and was in a bad place. So he began to make more instructional clips in an effort to attract private students.
“As the videos became more popular, business opportunities started presenting themselves, and that’s when I actually turned guitar-lesson videos into a business. The YouTube tutorials were free, but I also had a website and sold instructional courses on DVD. By late 2009, I didn’t need any other job except to make video lessons.”
Schwartz’s YouTube success has turned him into a celebrity of sorts.
“I get recognized out in public. I’ve also been able to meet...even jam with some of my heroes. For instance, I’m a huge Tenacious D fan. At the NAMM show a few years back, Kyle Gass came up to me like he knew me and yelled, ‘I saw you teach my song on YouTube!’ He later invited me to the Tenacious D rehearsal space to hang with him and Jack Black. I’ve played now with Phil Lesh, Mother Hips, Blues Traveler, and the guitarist from the Killers. I just did a weeklong tour with Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe from a referral. When Karl heard about me he said, ‘Marty Schwartz the guitar teacher? I watch that guy!’
“It’s amazing to know the videos have helped people get through chemotherapy, or helped wounded vets with their PTSD, or simply helped some college kid get laid. It’s all so gratifying.”