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[Serious] How do they afford all that gear?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by lefty73, Nov 23, 2020.

  1. lefty73

    lefty73 Tele-Afflicted

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    Serious tag borrowed from Reddit. I've always been curious about this yet have never seen the question asked. I'm not passing judgment. I'm genuinely curious.

    Some of the bedroom/stay-at-home/"session" guitarists I enjoy watching and engaging with on YouTube have tens of thousands of dollars in gear. Custom guitars, uber-boutique pedals, Kempers and Fractal and Helix and a full stable of tube amps, and ace studio monitors and premium DAWs.

    All without these players having any discernible track record for guesting on hit singles, accumulating producer or songwriting credits, scoring a touring/recording gig as a sideman, or leading their own band.

    How is this possible?

    • Are they establishing themselves as a corporation, LLC, or the like and the gear possibly becomes a "business expense"?
      • Probably not likely, though you never know...
    • Are they trust fund kids?
      • Odds of this are probably higher than I care to admit
    • Are they pouring every discretionary dollar into music gear?
      • Chances are good for this one; consider those that spend thousands on season tickets for their favorite sports team(s), or customize their vehicles
     
  2. cravenmonket

    cravenmonket Tele-Holic

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    Quite probably they are either trust-fund kids, or they are literally still living in their parents' home, rent free, and so they can afford to spend any and all savings/income/trust, etc, on gear. I know a few people who fit this description. And several more who are in the same position, but spend their money on cars/drugs/other hobby equipment. It's not that uncommon.

    A few years ago, there was a kid (19 or 20 I guess) who booked a lot of sessions at my father's recording studio. His mother was enormously wealthy, and she would simply give him whatever he asked for. And he asked for a lot. He had dozens of extremely high-end guitars, many of which he sold after a few weeks to buy coke. She also built him a state of the art stables and arena for his horse-riding hobby. Not sure what he is doing these days. He was rather a sad kid, broken home, some mental health issues. Hope he has grown up a bit by now.
     
  3. John Owen

    John Owen Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

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    I'm voting for #3. Rather than trying to make a living playing music, I'm guessing most of the folks you describe have decent paying day jobs that give them some disposable income.
     
  4. Whatizitman

    Whatizitman Friend of Leo's

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    It costs VERY little to start a youtube channel, in comparison to, say running your own cable access channel ala Wayne's World. So, yeah, any money can roll into gear.

    That said..... IF YOU ARE LINKING ONTO A CHANNEL IN THE FIRST PLACE, the likelihood is the youtuber has already established him or herself quite a bit with ad revenue and gear sponsorships. Else you wouldn't be seeing them.

    I'm sure they all front cash or whatever to get going. But once they get enough likes, etc..., the channel should be, at least, paying for itself.

    Yes, there seems to be a LOT of youtubers doing this. But consider for a second the sheer amount of people doing this that you never actually see.

    Scary, actually.
     
  5. MarkieMark

    MarkieMark Friend of Leo's

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    I would suspect most often: A little at a time, as savings and priorities allow.

    That my story and I'm sticking to it. :cool:
     
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  6. Dismalhead

    Dismalhead Poster Extraordinaire

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    Financing and being in debt up the rear end. I know, I've done it.
     
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  7. Nickfl

    Nickfl Friend of Leo's

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    Keep in mind that bullet point number one only works if you have income to write it off against, it really only helps if you are using the write off gear for something that you would be otherwise paying taxes on.
     
  8. Fiesta Red

    Fiesta Red Poster Extraordinaire

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    What he said...

    One of my daughter’s friends got linked up with a swimwear company and was given all the high-end swimsuits (we’re talking close to $100 per piece), just to wear and post them on her Instagram and YouTube page.

    Several things were creepy...

    the girl was only about 14-15, but rather (ahem) mature-looking...she’s a cute, sweet girl, but she’s not a swimsuit model in any way, shape or form—but she had “The Look” they were marketing for (mixed-race plus-size teen)...and the suits got smaller and smaller until she finally said no...

    But prior to that, she got thousands of dollars of swimwear that she sold on eBay and other sites...that was allowed in her contract.
     
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  9. Whatizitman

    Whatizitman Friend of Leo's

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    Even very famous songwriters and producers have youtube channels these days. Why? Cuz it pays better. Particularly if you are already a known entity.

    There are TONS of youtube videos on how to write songs. But even the vast majority of them that float to the top with high like count are NOT known songwriters. Just saying.

    It ain't called the music biz for nuthin'. The business of music has NEVER been about making music. It's about making money from music.
     
  10. NoTeleBob

    NoTeleBob Tele-Meister

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    Not to digress, but the key point. Although there are some cross business exceptions on the tax code, you need business income of some sort to be saving taxes on. I grimace every time some business does something charitable and some says "it's probably just a write off for them". "Write off's" are just a discount on an expense.

    As for the people buying tens of thousands in gear... well, some people I know have a small collection of hobby cars that they've poured as much into. Most of those guys just pump all their spare money in, over time, to their hobby. Same thing. Or, you can make it up on the other end: you can drive a $10k car instead of a $50K car and have a lot left for gear purchases. Likewise in other life areas.
     
  11. NoTeleBob

    NoTeleBob Tele-Meister

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    Money for nuthin', chicks for free.
     
  12. Buckaroo65

    Buckaroo65 Tele-Holic

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    I record english language reading lessons at a guy's studio... He bought a house, lives alone, no wife, kids or obligations, and sticks all of his money into the studio. He's got some nice gear too...
     
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  13. Middleman

    Middleman Friend of Leo's

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    I have a buddy who worked at Warner Bros studios as a recording engineering and we were talking about this just the other day. He said a lot of the New York, Atlanta and LA based studios were started many years ago by Trust Fund kids. They of course evolved over time and were bought and sold many times but that was the foundation of a lot of the larger studios of today.

    Regarding the Youtubers, once you get a certain following your next step is to have manufacturers send you gear for review. This is at no cost and then because the item sent out cannot be sold as new, manufacturers will want to move the demos along at a greatly reduced price, sometimes 50% or more because it's a cost of doing business and they can write off the loss. So the people who are using and demoing the gear will buy it for 40 to 50% less than us crowd fans can get it for. In some cases the company won't want it back and just write it off. So, if you can build a fan base and attract manufacturers, you can build up your gear pretty quick. In a lot of cases the YouTube host can just sell the demo and pocket the money for other things. Such is the design and tax structure of business in the USA.

    Now as the YouTube host, if they do buy any of the demo gear, they can write that off their taxes as operational cost. Along with the cost of running a YouTube channel. Anything as a musician i.e. CDs, guitars, amps, studio gear, rental space, car, home for entertaining people, Diamond Rings as Elvis handed out to fans, etc. is a Cost of Doing Business expense. If it's designed to generate revenue, regardless of if your business is losing money, it's a legal write off. The only caveat is you can only lose money in your business 3 of 5 years (that may have recently changed). You have to show a profit in 2 of 5 years or it's not considered a business by the IRS. At least that's the way it was years ago when I treated my music hobby as a business for awhile.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2020
  14. Preacher

    Preacher Friend of Leo's

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    I was trying out once as a musician. I wasn't given a directive as to the guitar or amp or pedals to bring so I brought my generic guitar, a reverb pedal and a small SS amp.

    The kid (he was probably 21) that tried out after me had a Fender MIA Strat, a bevy of pedals and a Vox AC30. I watched him take fifteen minutes setting up his gear while I finished my tryout. I figured he must have had at least three grand invested in all of his gear. He was a pretty good player (he made the cut on guitar, it did not work out for me) so I followed him out to his car, which was not his car. He had borrowed it from a friend as he did not have a car and lived in his mother's basement. As we chatted I found out he worked as a computer builder (self taught) and would build these super computers for gamers, sell them off for a ton of profit and then build another.
    Kid knew what he was doing.
     
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  15. loopfinding

    loopfinding Tele-Afflicted

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    you have to have some startup capital. so there, it's a bit unfortunate that the guys who end up making money with youtube often had quite a head start. they didn't need to strike gold on top of their dayjob.

    however, once you've got things going, A LOT of stuff on youtube is promotional. now i guess some folks disclose this, but the majority don't. all kinds of "viral" ad campaigns, "honest reviews," where basically companies just lend equipment to people that have 30k+ followers on youtube.

    "i'm not telling you to say something nice, but here's some toys to play with."

    it's the same with companies throwing products at instagram "influencers." there was a marketing blog that as an experiment was able to buy two accounts for about a thousand bucks, each with like 10k fake subscribers from click farms. all fake selfies. companies offered to throw them promo products under the table within like a week or two. the practice is pretty rampant. i would guess most influencers it’s some kind of blend between luck and payola.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2020
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  16. beanluc

    beanluc Tele-Holic

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    A lot of those youtubers with all the gear have Patreon pages, have run GoFundMes or Kickstarters in the past, make steady cash flow from ad income Based on tens or hundreds of thousands of subscribers and millions of views, have sponsorships which they mention in the video, hustle for demo gear to be sent to them for free, OR they’re already working musicians (you call them bedroom players but is that just because you can see their bedroom?) and have legit professional uses for a lot of the gear.
     
  17. Torren61

    Torren61 Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

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    A lot of gear gets sent around to YouTubers free but they can't keep it. They get a certain amount of time and then they have to send it on to the next person.
     
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  18. SRHmusic

    SRHmusic Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    The bigger music equipment sellers used to, and might still, offer generous financing during special/holiday sales. It's possible these folks don't own the gear at all.
     
  19. 4 Cat Slim

    4 Cat Slim Friend of Leo's

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    A former neighbor had been posting reviews and demonstrations of firearms on You Tube and he had a Patreon account as well.
    He was demonetized in the past year, his wife left him, he was furloughed from his job and at last report, is living in his mother's
    basement (he's in his fifties). Things are not always as they might seem. His hobby sort of got out of control.I'd be surprised if he still has
    very many of the items he reviewed.
     
  20. McGlamRock

    McGlamRock Poster Extraordinaire

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    While I was in college I met a few people enrolled in the Masters Program for classical guitar performance AND simultaneously enrolled in Law School. They were incredibly smart and incredibly talented musicians.
     
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