Starting his own YouTube channel had always been on the cards for Ross Murphy (OSCO), but time was always against him. In the midst of the global pandemic, Ross took the opportunity to finally make good on the channel and in just short amount of time has tapped into something special.
It's been over a year since we last spoke to Ross about his excellent release on Duploc. At the time, he was about to complete the Access to HE: Music Production course in our Bristol FE centre.
As we begin our chat via Zoom - an activity that's become hyper-normalised - we talk about the transition from college to university.
“College just scratches the surface, however with higher education you’ve got to do a lot of the research on your own. And by making you go about learning things you end up picking up small details that you didn’t get the first time round. It’s crazy how much you miss when you’re working through it rapidly.”
Digging deeper has always been second nature for Ross as his honed his production skills both before and during his time on the Access course. It would be here that the catalyst behind the YouTube channel would first appear, though it would take a year to materialise.
"When I was in college I was teaching kids in my class a lot of techniques and they were like, ‘you know a lot about this, you know all the technical things behind what you’re teaching and explain it really well - you should start a YouTube channel’. I was always like, ‘yeah, maybe when I’ve got time’ and then lockdown was the perfect excuse because I had too much time.”
Giving something back
Ross began experimenting by streaming his production tutorials through YouTube, which he'd become familiar with as a 12-year old making gaming videos. While Twitch was an avenue he had explored, the simple fact was that more people have YouTube and Gmail accounts, and it would be easier to start attracting those early audiences.
Shortly after beginning to stream, Ross produced his very first tutorial video on kick synthesis in Ableton Live.
“We had a task at uni to create a sample pack and I had a bunch of people saying ‘I don’t know how to synthesise a kick that sounds good’. We got taught how to do it, but I had a way that worked better for me, which I showed people in my class and it was at this point that I’d been saying I wanted to create the YouTube channel and they all said make a video on that.
“From there I started having more ideas for different technique videos and I was sharing them in the different production groups on Facebook. The video ideas just kept coming in and I just started making stuff that I knew people wanted to see.”
Since producing that first tutorial, Ross has gone on to produce a total of 45 videos, adding to his robust collection of short production tutorials to include more livestream sessions as well as artist interviews with Hebbe and CIMM.
Experimenting with new types of video content was something Ross was always keen to explore, but there was another factor that was driving the decision.
“Basically, it’s going to sound a bit weird, but YouTube has changed their policies recently on what defines you to monetise your channel. It used to just be you’ve got to hit a thousand subscribers and you can join up on AdSense, but now they’ve added this incentive to have watch time, so accumulated watch hours, and it proves that your channel is active and people are watching your content from start to finish.
"I thought to myself, 'I’m putting loads of time into editing and making sure these 10-minute videos look and sound really professional', and it was a lot to just get a short video out at the end.
"I wanted to introduce something that was a bit more laid back, long form, and I wanted to talk to other artists, too. It’s all well and good me giving back information that I’ve got on music production, but it’s also good to get other people’s thoughts and bouncing things off of them. I thought by having this interview/podcast production talk idea it would increase the watch time on the videos, but it would also validate what I was saying in my other videos.”
Two birds with one stone
Not long after starting the YouTube channel, Ross also started his own Patreon - a move that is pretty much a given with any online creators today.
“The reason I started it was because my furlough was majorly reduced due to some confusion with a change of contract earlier in the year and I was getting severely underpaid and I was barely able to make rent. So I was trying to think of ways that I could make money off the YouTube stuff, so I started the Patreon tiers doing 1-to-1 lessons, but not everyone was able to keep their subscription going month on month."
There are five tiers to choose from, starting at £3.60 all the way up to £36 a month. Within those tiers is a wealth of exclusive content, from extra clips from the artist interviews, track templates, bonus videos and patches and two tracks a month mastered by Ross.
“I make more videos than go up on the YouTube channel, but all the little extra ones go up on Patreon. It’s just quick tips, track breakdowns and stuff like that and it was my way of putting a pay-wall on some very in-depth content that was tailored. Patreon subscribers can comment with questions and suggestions on content they want. People can do that on YouTube too, but it’s at my discretion to make that, whereas Patreon subs get what they ask for.
“It has been a bit of a weird one because not everyone can afford to keep it up all the time, they are quite expensive tiers. What I have seen is people have been coming and going because not everyone can afford a lesson, which is £36 every month, but people sign up for a lesson, unsubscribe and wait a few months as they progress with their music and then come back for another lesson. So there’s a constant rotation, one month I had 30 patrons, but it fluctuates based on how busy I am and how much I can produce to the standard I want.”
A gap in the market
Giving people what they want has always been at the heart of this venture for Ross, and it seems to be working. In just 5 months he's built a close-knit community on his YouTube channel that continues to grow (1.3K subscribers at the time of writing), as well as a modest, but regular rotation of patrons on Patreon. For Ross, it wasn't just giving people what they wanted, it was being the only one to do it.
Photo credit: @niche.br
“When I was making dubstep and 140 and looking at YouTube videos there’s just nothing out there, so there’s an opportunity to give back here. It took a long time to figure out little techniques because without knowing anyone in the scene, I had to experiment to the point where I figured it out. It’s not the most efficient way to go about things, and YouTube videos did help me a lot when learning how to use Ableton, but there’s not a lot out there on deep dubstep and stuff like that.
"I want to eventually encapsulate all genres of bass music because their approach is extremely similar, it’s just how you use the same tools dependent on the genre, but because I’m the only person in the space making regular content on 140, there’s a high demand for more videos on it. There’s a million people out there making DnB, House and Techno tutorials, but I’m one of the few making tutorials on my style of dubstep.
“What I was really surprised about, especially for a channel of my size, is a lot of my videos are going straight to the homepage for people who are searching around 140 and dubstep, which is normally reserved for viral videos and people with a bigger audience base.”
All or nothing
Though time has been on his side to develop a range of content to build the channel, Ross has still been putting out new music, alongside providing 1-to-1 lessons for his patrons. With lockdown restrictions easing he's now back at work, so we had to ask how he's keeping all those creative plates spinning.
“It’s extremely difficult, I have very limited free time. I’m an all or nothing sort of person, if I don’t have anything going on I’ll vegetate and I’ll be in bed watching Netflix. I need to be so rammed and busy just to stay sane. A lot of it is putting notes in calendars, setting reminders and trying to be as efficient in the first few hours of the day as I possibly can. It’s about trying to get as much stuff to fit together so I’m killing two birds with one stone. If I was trying to do 1-to-1 lessons, videos and everything separate from each other I’d barely have time to sleep.
“I mainly use my own music as a way to explore new video ideas. Every time I open up Ableton to make a new tune, I get really experimental and try to think of some new techniques. By releasing music it validates the content I’m putting out there and proves that I know what I’m talking about."
The future of OSCO Music
It may still be early days for Ross, but one thing is clear - people are hungry for what he's creating. Given how much could change, we finished our chat by asking how he envisions the future.
“It’s difficult to say where the channel is going to go and what’s it going to do because I don’t know anyone else in this space. I want to use it as a platform to work with brands and start getting into sponsored content and use it as an advertising platform for other artists and my own projects.
"Whilst it’s quite a small channel, there’s a lot of room for experimentation and working with different brands and seeing what works. Education & Bass has already reached out to me to become one of their tutors. I really love what those guys are doing but I kind of want to set up a platform for myself. I don’t really want to work for anybody else and I think that’s why I started this in the first place.
“I don’t really have time for anyone at the minute, but it’s what I want to do. I’ve always wanted to work for myself and I’ve always wanted to work in the music industry. I’ve found that by doing this I can still create the music that I want to make, and I love making videos and I love seeing the reactions from other people. It makes it worth it when someone says ‘I’ve been looking for content like this for years.’”