Mystery Guitar Man Creates and Innovates on YouTube


Here’s the deal: The group of creators colloquially known as YouTubers — who use YouTube not only as a distribution method, but as a way to engage their audience — is a group of creators I don’t write about nearly enough. So I’ve set myself a personal challenge: To spotlight five lesser-known creators who may be on their way to unseating current top subscribed account Nigahiga. Welcome to YouTuber Week, guys.

Joe Penna, known on YouTube as MysteryGuitarMan, isn’t really a newcomer to YouTube — his account dates back to June 2006 (his first video was uploaded on October 20 of that year) and prior to 2010 he’d definitely gotten some notice — YouTube even featured one of his videos on the home page in February 2009.

However, the Brazilian-born musician and creator only began crossing the million-view count regularly about six months ago, thanks in part to a collaboration with Rhett and Link. Currently, his main account is the 13th most subscribed channel of all time, with over 80 million upload views.

Watching his stuff, it’s not hard to see why he’s been able to attract almost one million subscribers. Combining clear musical talent with technical ability and a quirky, relatable sense of humor, MGM’s videos are charming, well-produced and fun. As just one example, here’s a music video he did using the music of fellow YouTuber DeStorm and some “magic glasses.”


And he’s also done inventive covers of the music of John Williams:


As well as Michael Jackson (give it a sec):


Plus, he created possibly the very coolest use of YouTube annotations I’ve ever played with: This Interactive Piano short is not only a great idea, but it actually works really well.


My only critique of MysteryGuitarMan’s format is that after the main content of a video is over, he’ll spend at least a minute linking back to previous episodes with YouTube’s annotations feature, requesting interactivity from his audience, and plugging other users or new YouTube features. My problem isn’t that he does this, it’s that often this portion of the video lasts longer than the main content, leaving behind the sensation of watching a fun 45 second video and then a lengthy post-roll ad. A more condensed version of this section and/or slightly longer content on the front end would make a big difference.

MGM’s talent was recently acknowledged by Google for a sponsored video promoting the Nexus One , and according to a YouTube source, Penna — who in a past life was a medical student — is supporting himself with his YouTube partner earnings, giving him plenty of time to make more videos. Which look like a tremendously fun way to make a living.

Related GigaOm Pro Content (subscription required): Why Viacom’s Fight With YouTube Threatens Web Innovation (subscription required)


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