Brett Heatley of HeatleyBros Music
Brett Heatley is a team member of AudioMicro, and the creator of a unique genre of “GamePop” music. He runs the HeatleyBros YouTube Channel where he promotes his music for ‘free use with credit’ on YouTube, and provides links to purchase the licenses for his music on AudioMicro.com for use outside of YouTube.
Read his story on discovering his unique sound, turning his music and YouTube channel into a brand, and tips you can apply to your own story.
THE GENESIS – INFLUENCES OF MY SOUND
Being the younger sibling in the ’90s didn’t afford me too many options when it came to the music I listened to. My older sister kept the radio on RnB and pop, and I would watch on as my older brother played through single-player game after single-player game. I loved my older siblings, and respected and appreciated them. In turn, I fell in love with RnB (Boyz II Men for life) and watching my brother traverse through games like Sonic, Mario, and the Final Fantasy I had ample time to soak in the simple-sounding yet creative soundtracks. Between these two seemingly unrelated genres of music, a seed was planted in my brain that would eventually determine the unique type of music I would later create.
No matter how much older I got, and how many music options the world eventually offered, my love for the music I grew up listening to persisted. RnB advanced and changed, and Video Games left the simple synths for 100-piece orchestras focused more on mood rather than melody. While I did find new games and artists that carried some of the spirit of the 90’s music I cherished, I still felt there was a sort of musical itch I was no longer able to scratch.
The need to scratch was eventually offset to a degree as I learned how to play the guitar and the piano. I learned songs on the radio and eventually wrote a few of my own. It was fun, but those instruments and songs could never satisfy the array of musical sounds I wanted to hear. I put down those instruments and allowed for life and its responsibilities to take up most of my time.
Years later, I found myself as a senior in college, nervously eating lunch at my apartment, terrified of the fact that I still had no idea what I would do with my marketing degree. My roommate came in and left his new MacBook open on the kitchen table. I was not too familiar with MacBooks and noticed that a program in the corner of the screen had a guitar logo. I ran the mouse over the program and asked my roommate “what’s this ‘Garageband’ program do?”. He began to explain what it was My ears and brain perked up. “You mean to tell me that in that program, I can write out an entire song, bass, drums, chords, melody, and everything, and turn that into an mp3 that I can listen to on your stereo system?”. He confirmed and asked me if I wanted to give it try. I nodded and took the laptop into my room.
I remember him knocking on the door the next morning, wondering if I still had his MacBook with me as he couldn’t find it in his room. I responded by pressing play on the MacBook, and out of the little speakers came an entire 3:30 minute RnB song, complete with drums, bass, chords, lyrics, melody, stacked harmonies, and retro game synths. He was as amazed as I was, neither of us knew I had it in me. I was instantly hooked, and the fears of graduating without a plan were vanquished, forever. I wanted to make my own type of music and find work in the music business.
After I graduated from Florida State, I talked to my sister who lived in LA, told her I wanted to move out there and get into music. She was so excited she flew out to meet me and drove cross-country with me – she’s a great sister. I soon got settled in LA and started hitting up craigslist for any indie record labels that I could intern at. A small record label called ‘Accidental Airplay’ reached out and wanted to interview me. We met and gelled really well. I worked for them on many projects over the course of a few years. I remember having a conversation with them about wanting to make video game pop music inspired by the games of my childhood, they told me to go for it, so with that little push of support, I decided to start HeatleyBros, in 2014.
Over the years, I’ve had tracks used by a lot of big YouTubers which has really helped bring attention to my music, and seems to continually open up bigger and bigger opportunities.
For example, A Minecraft YouTuber known as AphMau who has close to 5 million subscribers found my song on AudioMicro.com and made it part of her theme song outro and used it for years for a particular series, which got a lot of traction and I received a lot of fandom around that. I learned that it was used there through the comments section of my YouTube channel, and had I not had a YouTube channel, I wouldn’t have known and it wouldn’t have helped me bring a bunch of attention to my channel, because people started acknowledging my music there.
I sell licenses to use my music on AudioMicro.com, a Production Music Library and I also monetize on my YouTube channel, one, through ads when people listen to my music or come to hear my new song that they could possibly license and use, and two, through monetization when people don’t license accordingly.
I use a third-party aggregator called AdRev.net for monetizing unlicensed use of my tracks. The more available and accessible Your music is online, the more likely it will be used without authorization. Therefore, in regards to generating revenue on YouTube, the more places your video is placed, the more you can make money on unlicensed use.
I sell licenses to use my music on AudioMicro.com, a Production Music Library and I also monetize on my YouTube channel. This happens two ways: through ads when people listen to my music or come to hear my new song that they could possibly license and use, and through monetization when people don’t license accordingly.
I use a third-party aggregator called AdRev.net for monetizing unlicensed use of my tracks. The more available and accessible your music is online, the more likely it will be used without authorization. Therefore, in regard to generating revenue on YouTube, the more places your video is placed, the more you can make money on unlicensed use.
MY TIPS FOR MUSIC CREATORS & YOUTUBERS
Tips I would give to music creators starting out and wanting to utilize YouTube to promote and monetize their music are:
1.CREATE A BRAND & PERSONALITY
Start a YouTube channel and then create a brand around the music you make.
2. GET YOUR MUSIC HEARD
You need to be able to get it on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Pandora and all the rest so, make sure you have a diYou want to get your music heard, first and foremost, then people can find where they can license it. Make it available on every access point possible. You need to be able to get it on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Pandora and all the rest, so make sure you have a distributor that can do this, like CDBaby.com or DashGo.com.
3. UTILIZE SOCIAL MEDIA
Be on every social media instance possible. Utilize Instagram, Soundcloud, TikTok, and YouTube! Then, connect with people as much as possible. Share your music and your story to get people engaged. For example, I recently did a series of live stream Q & A sessions for a few weekends in a row, to connect with some of the people that follow me. There were about 100 people listening in each time, and some of them ended up donating to my channel. This was a great way to interface with some followers and fans.
4. CREATE UNIQUE MUSIC
Don’t overuse audio loops in your music creation. One, it’s not unique, and two, loops can get flagged by Content ID systems and create a headache that you don’t need.
5. KEEP CREATING & IMPROVING
Keep evolving! Keep trying to get better, keep moving forward. You may hang your hat on one of the songs you made, but rather than trying to recreate something like it, try to create something better than that- something that speaks more closely to who you are, what you love and why you make music to begin with. As an artist, keep evolving and improving. Learn and grow, and you’ll constantly be your own competition. That way, you’ll keep raising the bar and exploring and refining your sound.
Thanks for reading! I wish you all the best in your creative endeavors!
~ Brett Heatley