Photo: International YouTube icon Glenn Fricker, President and CEO of SpectreSoundStudios covers everything related to recording hard rock and metal in his tutorials. Photo courtesy of Spectre Media Group and artistic interpretation by Yannis Bordas.
From Local To Global . . .YouTube Icon Glenn Fricker Burns Up The Road To Achieve “International Celebrity” Status
How do you measure when you have made it in the cyberspace Hall of Fame as a YouTube celebrity? . . . When you can reach a million views every video? When you have 25 million, 50 million or a 100 million followers? Or is it when a local YouTube icon’s mother picks up a magazine and sees her son “old school” on the front cover?
This issue of Biz X magazine features on the front cover a worldwide celebrity who has over a quarter of a million subscribers, and over 43 million views on his YouTube channel, SpectreSoundStudios. (YouTube.com/user/SpectreSoundStudios).
When I (the writer of this cover story) was asked to do some consulting for Glenn Fricker’s company based in Windsor with a worldwide reach, I was a bit taken aback.
The conversation started with two requests on my part. I was picking up a letter of reference my son needed to renew his Berklee College of Music scholarship and I had a request for Fricker. I was hoping he could delay taking my son out of school to work on projects and play all over the world, until summer break, when he could intern full time.
As the discussion continued, I realized just how much Fricker and his company, Spectre Media Group has “blown up” and why they are shifting to a Los Angeles base to partner with Warren Huart, an English multi-platinum producer and recording engineer.
Huart produces music for Aerosmith, and The Fray to name a few and has worked in film and television most notably for “Inglorious Bastards”; “Transformers”; “Scrubs”; “Grey’s Anatomy”… Huart owns Spitfire Studio in Los Angeles and hosts a YouTube Channel, “Produce Like A Pro.”
Fricker recently teamed up with Huart on a project featuring music written and performed by local LaSalle artist, Christian Vegh who has shared a stage with Robben Ford, Steve Vai and Suzy McNeil and recorded with band members of Elton John, Ringo Starr and David Bowie.
On bass was Tony Franklin, an English rock musician known as the “Fretless Monster” (bass guitarist with The Firm, Jimmy Page, Paul Rodgers, David Gilmour, White Snake . . .). On drums was American, Matt Star, currently touring with Mr. Big and who has worked on previous projects with members of KISS, Whitesnake and Guns N’ Roses. He’s played on songs used in movies and TV shows like “The Proposal,” “F/X” and “Sons of Anarchy”…
How did Fricker go from his first debut project in 1998, “How to Not Completely Suck in a Recording Studio,” to working with musicians from all over the world?
I was amazed at the evolution of his journey and how he embraced technology to stay relevant in his field. Fricker, a media arts graduate from Sheridan College in Toronto didn’t know his first project was an indicator of the road ahead.
Fricker started out directing music videos, but soon switched to sound recording during the audio revolution when equipment and pricing made it feasible.
“My first home recording used digital waves for audio by megalithic systems, it was one of the first 8 channel interfaces for the PC,” he recalls.
Fricker started working on video recordings for local bands from all genres — blues, Celtic, metal, hip-hop… In 2009 he had a three month layoff from Chrysler (where he worked full time) and began doing voice-overs for a company making audio books. Using accents helped develop his studio voice, even if it was out of his comfort zone.
In 2010, DSLR with video capability came in, making videos affordable, so Fricker offered music video packages. Next, YouTube came along and it was an easy way to distribute music, as in the past it cost about $3,000 for film.
Fricker went to work on a local film next as a cinematographer.
“I just wanted to keep diversifying,” he states. However, it didn’t go well.
“My blunt honest approach was not appreciated” and Fricker realized he does not “work well with idiots.”
He was let go after telling them to “get their crap together and stop wasting his time.” It was at this point when Fricker decided he should “do his own thing” and “be his own boss.”
Fricker now had time to resurrect a dormant project, one he started in 1998 in an article, “10 Ways to Get Your Band Ready for The Studio.”
He recalls: “I was working with the band Perpetuate at the time so I bounced some ideas off them. I couldn’t believe that 14 years later I was still seeing the same mistakes during recording sessions, so I decided to finish the article. I remember thinking ‘why do this as an article when I can make a video and reach way more people and possibly help someone’.”
With his house paid off he figured “I can say what’s on my mind and if it ruins my business, so be it.”
Friends warned him his blunt criticisms and harsh opinions would tank his studio, but the lure of “honest reviews and being a wild, unpredictable and uncontrollable consumer watchdog” was too enticing.
When friends and companies like Pro Audio responded with “that’s fantastic, do more” he knew he was on to something.
Next Fricker was inspired by a blues singer “cupping the mic” in Memphis. Realizing this was a universal problem, he created a video “How to Hold a Microphone.”In 2014, he did a guest spot in “Maniac,” a “Border City Music Project” with Jon Gillies. It premiered at the Capitol Theatre and Fricker had to say one line which was, “I refuse to use auto tune — I’m sick and tired of it and I refuse to use it.”
This caused the audience to “go nuts.”
He knew he was on to something with his “old school” purist outlook and borrowed an Axe-FX II (Digital Amp Simulator) to compare against a traditional tube amp and made “Axe-FX versus the Real Deal” and that’s when momentum began.
Fricker started creating videos once a week, mostly gear reviews and common sense studio tips. He decided to not worry about hurting feelings, after all “This is metal and there is no crying in metal”. In 2015, during another layoff, he increased to three videos a week and thought about Diversifying beyond YouTube.
Editor’s note: This was one of the more family friendly videos we could show you here at Biz X . Be ready for a full frontal assault on Fricker’s YouTube channel. LOL
“I went to my first ‘NAMM’ (North American Association of Music Merchants) and learned so much about how the music business works and a lot about diversification” Fricker reveals. “You really can’t make a living with a small channel, you need YouTube ads, sponsorships, merchandise and your own products to sell.”
Fricker began to brand himself and develop merchandise on his website: SpectreMedia.ca. His products, known for outrageous and crude sayings include cell phone cases, posters, hats, mugs, hoodies and over 20 shirts.
His cab simulations, and courses like “Pro Mix Academy,” “Mixing Math Rock” and “Producing Prog (Progressive) Metal” as well as consultations, add to his revenue stream.
Personal appearances, fan meet and greets and events in Vegas, L.A., Europe . . . have made him a celebrity who can’t go anywhere without fans snapping selfies and asking for autographs.
When he was in Times Square with his wife, Fricker stopped for an autograph, while late for a play.
“How can I turn down a fan, he will think I’m an idiot,” he expresses. (This is not very Howard Stern-like behaviour, someone he is sometimes compared to.)
Fricker’s main revenue comes from ad sponsorships, products he sells, direct sponsors and lessons.
One of his mentors, Jamie Hush: a programmer for the NFL, told him to run the numbers.
“If you have a video that reaches a 100, and sell one product for every 10,000 views you sold 10 products,” Hush explains. “As your reach grows to a 1,000,000 views and you have a hundred videos selling 10 products — now that becomes significant.”
Fricker recommends taking lessons from YouTube great Rob Scallon.
Cover story continues HERE