David Choi: music, stardom and YouTube
AHEAD of the Australian leg of his Asia Pacific Tour kicking off in Melbourne this Friday, we catch up with one of YouTube’s most subscribed artists David Choi, about his musical journey and the making of stars on YouTube. Jowee Tee tells you how you can win double passes to his Melbourne concert.
THE first song David Choi posted online was in 2006 – befittingly a proclamation of his love for YouTube.
He had no expectations other than to give “random people who happened to stumble upon it some laughs and giggles”.
His introduction to YouTube was not unlike everyone else – he had originally regarded it as a platform for capturing snippets of his life, the trips he took, his mates on video.
He was a consumer of the medium, entertained by the first wave of popular YouTubers like lonelygirl15, EmoKid21Ohio, Renetto, and thewinekone; cute kittens and the hilarious misfortunes of others caught on candid camera.
So it came as a massive surprise to Choi, when he discovered that barely a week after his “love song” had been featured on YouTube’s homepage, the video had not only been seen by him, but by a million people worldwide.
Since then, Choi has produced two albums – “Only You” (2008) and most recently “By My Side” (2010); and it probably won’t be long before the 25-year-old Korean American singer-songwriter’s YouTube music channel will likely close in on 100 million upload views, with new fans subscribing to his videos daily.
How did he get here? Has YouTube now become the most effective way for budding musicians and other creative types to parlay their successes online into a fully-fledged entertainment career?
“YouTube definitely helps because it’s online and you can reach a wider audience and share your music with people like that… but there are a lot of factors involved,” says Choi.
By the advent of YouTube, Choi was already madly composing, arranging, mixing, recording, interning, taking part and winning numerous mini contests. But his biggest break came in 2004, when he won the David Bowie Mash-Up Contest, the John Lennon Songwriting Contest, appearing on the cover of USA Weekend Magazine with Usher, and was subsequently offered a contract to become a songwriter and producer at Warner Chappell Music.
“I knew that the music industry was hard and everyone struggles… so it felt so weird when I got the call telling me I had got the job,” he says.
In his time at Warner Chappell, Choi continued to produce videos for YouTube, posting songs he had written in the past as well as covers. Music requests, comments and feedback kept streaming in, and the rest, as the popular saying goes, is history.
But Choi is modest about his successes.
For all the perks of his YouTube stardom, Choi still has to handle most things himself as an independent artist – from publicity and promotion work to management and the reams and reams of paperwork.
He is also realistic about the challenges ahead of him.
“In America, it’s very hard to be Asian and be an artist. It’s easier to be a producer, do all the work behind the scenes, but I’m not sure if America is ready for an Asian American,” says Choi.
“There will be a time where I think Asians will be more integrated to mainstream media. It’s bound to happen, but not right now I don’t think. It’s only going uphill, you know, an uphill battle.”
Though if his previous track record is anything to go by, it’s hard to imagine Choi doing anything other than making a molehill out of this mountain, because of his passion and dedication to music.
“If I didn’t have YouTube, I would probably still be doing what I’ve always been doing – scoring, writing and producing,” says Choi.
David Choi will kick off his Australian tour here in Melbourne this Friday July 1 at the Melbourne City Conference Centre, joined by Sydney-based twins Jayesslee. There will also be shows in Sydney (July 2) and Brisbane (July 3). For more information or to book your tickets, visit monsoonproductions.com.au or davidchoimusic.com.
We have one double pass to David Choi’s Melbourne concert this Friday up for grabs! All you have to do is tell us on Meld Magazine’s Facebook Pageone song you would most like to see David perform live. Competition closes 11pm Wednesday June 29. Winners will be selected in a random draw.