Today marks the 4th year since I uploaded my first lesson to YouTube. During those 4 years, many things about my life have changed, while other things have not.
This post is a tribute to you, the viewers and customers who come here to learn. This site exists only because you keep coming back, talking about it to friends, and supporting me with your purchases.
The point I hope to make is that the success of StevieSnacks is a remarkable thing, because it happened without the help and support of any large companies, celebrities, or publications. It happened entirely because of your loyalty.
While you read the next section, keep this one fact in the forefront of your mind:
StevieSnacks is a huge success, enough so, that it allowed me to quit my job 2 years ago.
Remember that as you read on.
Who’s Responsible For This?
Magazines maintain a fairly high “radar” threshold. They will highlight up and coming pedal and amp makers, but they largely ignore small indie websites like this. That’s understandable. If you have an audience, you must always weigh the pro’s and con’s of what you highlight for your audience. I face this occasionally too.
A few years ago, a freelance writer for Vintage Guitar wanted to include me in a story. So we did an interview. When he found out that I wasn’t in a band, and didn’t have an illustrated career behind me, the story got harder to write, and eventually never happened. I wasn’t surprised.
Guitar magazines don’t know what to do with an independent success, not affiliated with any big names, especially one like this where the lessons feature a very low amount of music theory. They stick to people who have pedigree, music degrees, long histories in the industry, etc.. Needless to say, that is not me.
StevieSnacks has succeeded without any help from Guitar Magazines.
While I’m not sure exactly how many Fender Blues Juniors my early demos helped sell, I think it’s probably a lot. People assume that Fender knows about me, or has contacted me, or even offered me an endorsement deal.
Nope. I have no contacts at Fender. Never been contacted, never been approached. I walked around their NAMM booth last year, and no one knew me from Moses.
I’ve used GraphTech saddles for over 10 years. They’re on all my Strats. I contacted GraphTech a while back to ask about artist endorsement. No reply.
StevieSnacks has succeeded without any help from top tier gear companies.
I don’t know, or have connections with, any famous musicians.
Tonight, I’ll be going to a Kenny Wayne Shepherd show. Because many of you love his music, I contacted his press agent to request an interview, hoping to publish it tomorrow, after the show. No reply. I can’t say I’m surprised. Like magazines, artists have an audience, and must weigh the value of every interview. Maybe they never got it, who knows. It doesn’t really matter.
StevieSnacks has succeeded without any help from big name artists.
Last year, I contacted Bug Music, the manager of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s publishing rights. A very helpful person guided me through the application process for requesting a sync license for Pride And Joy. I created a sample of how I’d teach the song. The application was submitted to the Stevie Ray Vaughan estate for review. I never got a decision back, which means it was either ignored, or they didn’t even consider it worth responding too.
StevieSnacks has succeeded without any help from full song lessons.
So what’s the point of writing all of that? Simple.
StevieSnacks is a shining independent success, without help from traditional publishers, artists, endorsements, etc… I work full time at this, selling lessons to people all over the world, and have been for 4 years.
It is a success because you made it a success.
You built this. You didn’t come here because you heard about it in a magazine. You didn’t come here because you saw my picture on a big website, or because I played on stage with someone famous.
The only reason you come here is because you like the lessons. And because you keep coming back, recommending the site to friends, and buying the premium lessons, I get to keep doing this, day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year.
StevieSnacks exists because you decided that your lessons didn’t need to come from someone with a name you knew. Some of you were doubtful when you initially found the site. But you stuck around, and you’re still here. And for that I thank you.
Friends To StevieSnacks
There have been people who, over these 4 years, have treated this me with respect. They didn’t look at StevieSnacks as a minor thing. In their eyes, it was worth highlighting. These are all good people, and they all have my sincere thanks.
Bill was one of the first people with a reputation to call out my site, and recommend people to it. He didn’t have to do that. He still has a link on his site to StevieSnacks, and I don’t know why, but I am thankful.
I met Sarge of CAL at a guitar show in 2008. StevieSnacks was barely off the ground, yet they have always treated me with respect, talking up my site, and allowing me to review their pedals.
I’ve been using a Samamp VAC 23 since 2009, and will soon be reviewing another one of Sam’s amps. When visiting the Nashville Amp Expo this year, I spent most of my time talking to Sam.
Before we even met, Brian graciously gave me the chance to evaluate one of his best pedals, the Ecstasy Overdrive. When I requested an Ecstasy to give away as a prize at my Texas Tone clinic this summer, he quickly obliged.
After I published my review of the Angry Fuzz, I contacted Visual Sound, and heard back directly from Bob Weil, thanking me for the video. They also were quick to give me a pedal to giveaway as a prize at my Texas Tone Clinic.
These two people from Promising Projects are the reason I had the great opportunity to go to the Tall City Blues Fest this summer to teach. StevieSnacks got very good visibility in the festival program, they didn’t hide it away in the back, but they could have. I appreciate that greatly.
Jim is a writer at loopinsight.com. He’s equally connected in the world of Apple, and the MIM community. Jim has shamelessly recommended my site on a number of occasions. He’s a good dude, and has quite a beard.
Josh is the blogger at GuitarLifetyle.com. I’ve had the chance to meet him in person several times, and he’s always been very supportive, especially with his review of Essential Fretboard.
Jon is the blogger at GuitarNoize.com. When he was doing his blues solo contest, I did a little promo video for it, and he talked up this site on his blog. He didn’t have to, but he did, and I’m thankful.
Chuck was one of my earliest DVD customers, and despite having some initial trouble with the DVDs, became a vocal StevieSnacks supporter on FenderForum.com. Chuck you know who you are, and I’m thankful for your support.
Ken runs the What’s It Like podcast site. He interviewed me for his podcast, along with some other, much more well-known people. I am thankful for that interview, it’s one of my favorites.
Dan runs the hugely successful 5by5 podcast network. I emailed him out of the clear blue sky, asking to be a guest on one of his shows. He liked StevieSnacks so much that we ended up doing a 10-episode show together called “The Mixdown”. Dan interviews and co-hosts shows with some of the biggest names in the web design world. He certainly didn’t have to respond to my email, much less give me my own show, but he did, and I am thankful for that.
I contacted Hiro, designer of the Avid Eleven Rack last year. Not only did he graciously reply, but offered me the chance to review the Eleven Rack. While I have yet to produce very much valuable feedback, I use it every day in my office studio. I am very thankful that Hiro took my request seriously, and did not ignore it.
Robert is the guitarist behind Dolphinstreet.com. He has always been supportive of StevieSnacks, and has mentioned me several times on his site. Robert’s one of the nicest people you’ll meet ever.
In the early years of StevieSnacks, when my Retro Classic was my main axe, the Grosh people put a link to StevieSnacks on their site.
Nick runs Rocketfire Guitars. He was supportive of StevieSnacks from the beginning, even giving me a set of pickups for my Texas Tone Clinic.
I’m sure there are more, it’s late, and my mind is getting fuzzy. But you get the point.
When it comes to an oddity like StevieSnacks, people in the ‘industry’ have one of two reactions. They either ignore it because of what I lack, or they support it because of what I do.
You have a choice too, and today, after 4 years, I’m thankful you choose to support it. It’s changed my life.