Edison Mellor-Goldman, 17, a Los Angeles-area high school student, likes to go home from school and make video tutorials using his iMac computer's built-in webcam. "When you teach someone one-on-one, that's great," he says. "But when you put it on YouTube and hear from 100,000 people around the world that 'you helped me' and get such a massive amount of feedback, that's really something."
He's made 33 videos. His most popular — how to play Jason Mraz's I'm Yours— has been viewed 200,000 times on YouTube.
Sandercoe began offering video lessons in 2007 as a way to attract new students. His lesson on how to play Guns 'N Roses' Sweet Child o' Mine has picked up more than 2 million views. His site attracts 600,000 viewers a month. "People can share their common love of something online. It's a fantastic resource," he says. He offers instructional DVDs for sale and asks for contributions. He says he averages about $100 a week.
Most of the lessons found on YouTube are by young teens. Many are imprecise, says Tim Huffman, CEO of Atlanta-based iVideosongs. "You get what you pay for. We offer multiple camera angles, high-definition video and accuracy."
Competing with Apple isn't easy — especially when he charges twice as much for artist lessons: $9.95 — but he says he has a few advantages. You can make purchases at the iVideosongs site or via Amazon downloads. The company also offers instructional podcasts (how to play slide guitar, the piano, etc.) at iTunes.
Apple does not offer stand-alone purchases of its copy-protected video lessons at iTunes. The only way to see Sting demonstrate Roxanne is by using a newer Mac with GarageBand.
Joe Lamond, president of the National Association of Music Merchants, a trade group for music stores (where most guitar lessons are held), says the growth of online video lessons has paid off with more-attentive students. Guitar sales — even in a recession — were up 3% in 2008, he says. He credits the Internet and video games.