Monetizing YouTube as a jazz drummer: how Quincy Davis’ videos grew into an income stream

By Zane Skuja read
Monetizing YouTube as a jazz drummer: how Quincy Davis’ videos grew into an income stream

Quincy Davis is a world-renowned jazz musician, drummer, and associate professor who teaches at the University of North Texas. Having grown up in a musical family and received musical training, Quincy has been an international jazz performer and composer for the last 22 years. 

Quincy can be heard on over 50 different albums playing with notable jazz musicians such as Steve Nelson, Tom Harrell, Benny Golson, and many more. In 2014, Quincy released his debut album, which rose to #1 on Jazz Week’s radio jazz chart.

His passion for teaching music is evident through his many video lessons on jazz drumming as well as interviews on his YouTube channel with 15K+ subscribers. He’s also active on Instagram where he has a growing following of 10.3K+.

Quincy started using Sellfy after seeing a couple of YouTube videos on different ways to sell products online. He needed a platform for selling his diverse content, and he felt that Sellfy’s ease of use was perfect for that. 

In this interview, Quincy talks about how he built his social media presence with consistent marketing and gives insightful tips to all creators looking to grow an online business.

What do you do as a creator? 

My main job is teaching jazz music and drums at the University of North Texas, one of the largest schools in the world where you can earn a degree in jazz. I’ve been teaching there for five years. 

In addition to that, I’m a freelance musician, so I play with different people from all around the world. That’s what I’ve been doing for the last 22 years, even before teaching. That’s the gist of what I do creatively. 

Tell me about your journey. How did you end up building an online business?

So, I used to teach as an assistant professor in Winnipeg, Manitobaa small and quiet Canadian town with great people, but not a lot to do. I had lived in New York for 10 years before I moved there, so it was a very different culture. And, I guess it just struck me to start creating videos to help drummers. 

There were many things that I saw drummers having issues with like technique and some concepts. And, a lot of times I would think to myself, “You know what? Maybe I’ll make a video of me talking about these things, and then I can just refer drummers to the video.” 

My very first YouTube video was me in a lesson. It was done on my iPhone, which wasn’t that great, but it got very good feedback. So, I made another more formal video, and many drummers found that useful. And, then it kind of took on a life of its own. 

I didn’t do it to create an online business, though. I was just trying to create content and help drummers. It was also great for putting my name out there as a pedagogue and as someone who teaches drums. So, that’s how it all started for me—it was a very organic process. 

I was and still am lucky to be in a position where I don’t actually need to make more money to live. I never felt that pressure, so I took my time through the whole process. And, now, it has turned into a reliable source of income, which is pretty cool.

What do you think people like about your videos?

I think it’s that people get to see some of my artistry and not just my teaching. That’s a very important element. 

What were the very first products you created?

When I observed other musicians selling products online, I realized that I could do the same thing since I write music and have a following on YouTube.

So, I signed up for Sellfy and started creating play-along tracks and freebies coupled with exercises for drummers. I think I’ve had my Sellfy store for about a year now.

Quincy’s Sellfy store – Products

How did you discover Sellfy and why did you choose our platform over the others?

I found Sellfy when I started watching YouTube videos about different ways of selling products. I wanted to create something that would consistently generate passive income, even if I don’t put out a video.

Of all the alternatives out there, Sellfy seemed clear, easy to follow, and straightforward. I also liked the user-friendly interface. So, that was the main appeal to Sellfy. 

I just felt that Sellfy’s approach to selling products, and the way that everything’s laid out in such a simple way, was a great match for my content. Also, the customer service seemed very helpful and kind.

What are your favorite Sellfy features?

The upselling feature is very useful. I also like the way you can easily set up discounts. That is a pretty cool feature. There are so many different things that you can do with Sellfy that I don’t think I’ve taken advantage of all the features yet.

What impact has Sellfy had on your business?

I find that Sellfy makes a huge difference, and I can’t encourage people to use it enough. Sellfy really makes it easy for people to purchase digital or physical products from you. 

Selling through my own website, for instance, is a lot more complicated because I can’t sell multiple files. So, rather than going through my website, I can just sell through Sellfy.

Let’s talk about marketing. How did you figure it out? What’s your strategy?

The first thing I did was create a good social media presence to drive traffic to my website and promote my business. 

For example, I started giving out freebies to drummers, and I did that for about five years. It worked really well because they were downloading these freebies left and right. Now, of course, I’m driving people more towards the products I’m selling, and that has been going well too. 

So, if I’m selling a product, I’ll link that to Sellfy directly from Instagram. Of course, there are links to anything I’m selling on Sellfy in my video captions as well.

I’ve also built up a following and trust with my YouTube subscribers. I often link my Instagram Stories to YouTube videos so that people can click from Instagram and watch the video. And, then I have a YouTube link in my Instagram bio. I think that’s helped drive a lot of traffic to YouTube.

Quincy’s YouTube channel

Another thing I do is make the most out of the SEO and how I word the titles of my YouTube videos. There’s a website called TubeBuddy that I’ve been using to help me out with the titles, descriptions, tags, and so on. So, I always create a consistent template for each video. It’s amazing how much of a difference it makes in attracting viewers.

And, then I try to promote my products in videos. Since I started doing that, it really took off, and it showed me that people are interested in products that will help them. 

So, all of these different marketing strategies have helped me increase my numbers exponentially.

What’s your favorite part of having an online business?

I would say my favorite part is just knowing that I’m helping a lot of people. As a music teacher, that’s what encourages me and keeps me motivated. If no one was really into it, I don’t think I’d still be doing it.

For instance, a lot of times when I travel, I meet drummers who have seen my videos and show appreciation for what I do. It’s so nice to see that because it isn’t always easy for me, even though I come from a musical family.

I speak and live the language of music—it’s a part of me, and I’ve been doing this for ages. But, I still need to practice and work on myself.

And what’s the most challenging part?

I think one of the most challenging aspects of having a business is balancing it with what I want to do in my free time. 

When you’re constantly giving to others without giving to yourself, you can lose your motivation as an artist and a content creator.

I try my best to choose topics that don’t take too much time to create, but it still ends up being time-consuming because I want to do my job well. So, balancing the content creation with work and my time off, including regular practicing and traveling, is all very challenging. 

But, I try to remember that I’m helping people so that I don’t get caught up in the numbers. And, I also try to remember that my general numbers are really good. I tell myself, “Hey, you’re doing well. Maybe this video didn’t do as well as last week’s video, but you’re still reaching a lot of people.”

What are your productivity tips? How do you stay motivated?

Many of the content creators on YouTube talk about consistency. And, I kind of fooled around with that at first. At one point, I was trying to put out two to three videos per week. I kept that up for maybe two weeks until I realized it was too much for me. 

Numbers-wise, I thought I’d see an increase, but it actually didn’t help my numbers at all. So, I settled on one video a week and that’s been great. I have noticed that once I started becoming more consistent, the people watching my videos started looking forward to it. When you’re not consistent, then you start to lose their trust.

For whatever reason, people gravitate towards different content creators—you appeal to them for a reason. So, when you’re consistent, they’ll see that you’re serious about what you’re putting out. And, I think that makes a difference in how you’re perceived by people.

So, that’s why I try to stay as consistent as I can. I want to make sure that people perceive me as someone serious about helping and teaching.

Another motivating factor for me is that, despite the decline in university applicants due to the pandemic, the numbers have stayed high in my jazz department. This has helped me attract students who might not have known about the school.

And, a lot of students who audition know me from YouTube or Instagram. So, that tells me that my online presence has been effective.

Do you have any advice for people who want to start an online business?

I would say there’s no better time to start than now. It doesn’t mean that you have to start putting out products right away. It just means being clear on what you want to offer because everyone has something slightly different, even if it’s the same niche. 

What do you have to offer that’s different than everybody else? Focus on your product and what you’re going to give to people. But, also, make sure you research people who have a lot of good ideas on how to start a business.

Once you figure out what you want to do, go all the way in and try to be as consistent as possible. Don’t expect immediate growth—it takes time. That’s why it’s important to start right away because it’ll take time to grow your business. As they say, patience is a virtue. 

The other thing I would recommend is to make sure you have an up-to-date website where people can go and see exactly what you do. Whatever you’re planning to sell, make sure that it’s easy to access. 

Personally, I’ve gotten to a point where my business is doing well, but there are definitely some upgrades and modifications I need to make. And, I think that it’s natural for businesses to reassess and see what they could be doing better. So, make sure that you’re also keeping the business fresh.

In the spotlight

In the spotlight

Quincy Davis
Jazz drummer
Pedagogue
YouTuber
Zane started out in Sellfy as a Customer Support rep and quickly became fascinated with clients' business stories. Having worked in Customer Experience and Marketing projects, she is now part of the Customer Success team and enjoys interviewing Sellfy creators.

In the spotlight

In the spotlight

Quincy Davis
Jazz drummer
Pedagogue
YouTuber