In November of 2008 I co-founded DFTBA Records with my friend, musician Hank Green. DFTBA (an initialism for “Don’t Forget To Be Awesome”) represents some of the most popular personalities in online video including Smosh, Charlie McDonnell, Rhett and Link, Dave Days and Venetian Princess. But we are also working with artists whose audiences are just beginning to grow.
Online video is a fantastic marketing tool, but independent artists rarely have the time or money to print and ship their own work. Working with traditional record labels is either impractical or undesirable, DFTBA fills the gap. In our first year we paid out close to $100,000 to the artists we work with, landed on numerous top sales charts, including Billboard and iTunes’ charts. By December 2009 we were named “Best Online Music Label of the Year” by Mashable and we received a front page write-up in the Chicago Tribune’s Red Eye magazine. Before our two year anniversary we had sold over $1,000,000 in music and merchandise.
DFT.BA is a link shortening service branded similarly to my record label, DFTBA Records. I designed the service and DFT.BA was programmed by Sam Rudge over the course of a week. It’s a great service that reminds everyone who clicks your short links to never forget to be awesome. Since launching the service, we’ve added stat tracking and QR code creation for every link shortened via DFT.BA.
Sharp or Flat is an online visual guitar tuner. Many instrument tuners are available online, but require you to have relative or perfect pitch. I need to visually see the tuner’s needle bouncing to tune my instruments. So I started developing an online guitar tuner that would use your computer’s internal microphone, or any audio source plugged into the computer to tune any instrument.
An online video project, fiveawesomeguys was a collaborative YouTube channel featuring myself, Charlie McDonnell, Alex Day, Todd Williams and Johnny Durham. The project was a huge success resulting in over 7,000,000 video views and over 40,000 subscribers in less than a year. Each member of the project was asked to make one video per week, filling up all five weekdays. Some weeks had themes, other weeks we just responded to each other’s videos while talking about what was happening in our life. We did this for one year and then closed the project.
The Project for Awesome is an annual charity event hosted on YouTube. The event was started by the vlogbrothers, John and Hank Green. I’ve been involved behind the scenes in helping plan, designing the branding, and co-hosting the live streaming 48-hour long show each and every year.
Participants in the Project for Awesome are asked to make a video in which they discuss their favorite charity, to educate others about the various causes that need our moral and financial support. Then viewers rate and comment multiple times on these videos so they climb the YouTube charts. By the end of the 48 hour project, we’ve been able to blanket the YouTube charts with charity videos, all featuring the same thumbnail.