Over the past few years, it’s been nearly impossible to peruse social media without coming across one of Anthony Vincent’s YouTube videos — you probably know him by the name of his video series, Ten Second Songs.
In each clip, Vincent delights the viewer with a variety of different musical styles, all singing parts of the same song. Genres are mashed up, he abruptly (and seamlessly) shifts gears from death metal to Beatles-style singing, and so on. It’s wild.
The first video that went absolutely viral online was this one, in which he tackles Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” in 20 different styles:
This past January, Vincent took in his first NAMM Show in Anaheim, California and spent a few minutes chatting with Rock Cellar about going viral, his videos and much more.
Rock Cellar: Ten Second Songs videos tend to get viral pretty quickly. Folks go crazy for them, they’re all over Facebook. You manage to capture the sounds and inflections of artists all across the musical spectrum — and each with only ten seconds. It’s easy to see why people love these videos. How did this whole thing happen?
Anthony Vincent: It was a few years ago. Long story short, it all kinda happened by accident. I was looking to get into custom songs and songs for placement in TV/movies, jingles, all that. So I started a small business on a whim on Fiverr.com, where a lot of freelancers go to sell their services for five bucks. I came up with the name Ten Second Songs, selling songs ten seconds in length for five dollars in any style you wanted.
It was a gag, a fun thing, but it really caught on and made me think that I could actually take this to the next level. So one big way I attempted to promote it was I took a pop song and performing it in twenty different styles, to showcase what I could do as a portfolio of my skills, basically. It ended up being something that just blew up on the internet.
It went viral, it gave me a big audience seemingly overnight. I was a nobody on the internet and I put out a video that got five million views in a week and a hundred thousand subscribers from zero. In eight months, I broke the million subscriber milestone, which was insane.
Now it’s a thing where it’s entertainment, it’s fun for me because I don’t practice these voices. If I choose that I want to do a song in the style of an artist, it’s usually because fans are suggesting that I do that. So it’s almost a challenge.
I just have fun with it, it’s like a game to me.
Rock Cellar: When things went crazy that first week, things probably got out of hand pretty quickly in terms of your email Inbox. How did you handle that part?
Anthony Vincent: The thing was, the day it blew up it was No. 2 on all of Reddit. It completely broke the internet. The first thing I noticed — a lot of things happened simultaneously — but the first thing I noticed was I was working on something, I took a break and I noticed my emails were up past 100, which I’d never seen before. Then all of a sudden, I have friends contacting me, saying, “Oh man, you’re on Reddit.” My brother called in from the other room letting me know about that, then a friend called me about being on another site, it just kept going. It was pretty overwhelming.
You talk about the way social media is and how everybody has this obsession with fame, like how every status you put out you get a little release of dopamine when somebody “likes” it. Could you imagine what it’s like when a video of yours goes that viral? You’re pretty much just…everybody on the internet that day is seeing it. Crazy. It alters your mind.
Rock Cellar: When it comes to changing your voice in a video from James Hetfield of Metallica or Slayer’s Tom Araya to, say, Frank Sinatra or Justin Bieber, how do you do that? You said you don’t practice the voices, but how do you do that in the videos then?
Anthony Vincent: I just do it. It’s really just that. I make sure that I get the music, you have to get the music right. Once that’s down, and you get …for instance, doing something Doors style, once the keys are there and the chill vibe, the big reverb, all of a sudden I kind of feel myself becoming the recording. It happens naturally, you just get in these certain roles when all the arrangements are in the right place. Its just a natural thing, I guess.
Caught up with Mr. @TenSecondSongs himself – and this is his very first @NAMMShow! Anthony shares some thoughts and initial impressions of the show. #NAMM2018 #TenSecondSongs pic.twitter.com/jV73kaXD8e
— Rock Cellar Magazine (@RockCellarMag) January 26, 2018
Rock Cellar: Seems like you’re well on your way to becoming a pretty good story on DIY internet success. Sometimes, people go viral for a few hours, maybe, or even a day. But your videos keep going.
Anthony Vincent: It’s going to be four years in March. If you experience a big explosion of interest like I have, it’s unrealistic to expect it to keep blowing up at that pace forever. There’s evolution involved. You have to try different things, platforms change, you have to think about your career as far as what you want and what your idea of success is. Right now, I found a way to make this, playing for the internet, my living, and that’s really just it. I can’t really ask for much else.
Whatever else comes, will come in time, and it’s not that it’s on autopilot, but I’m at a point now where I’m grateful and happy that this is my life and this is my living. It will eventually go to other levels and places that I can’t foresee right now.
Rock Cellar: So basically, you’ll just see how it goes and expands as you keep working on new videos?
Anthony Vincent: Yeah. I mean, I do these videos because they’re fun, people enjoy them. And I’ll continue doing whatever ideas come to mind. I write my own music, too, last year me and my band put out an album. This year, I’ve got a bunch of wacky tunes of my own that I’ve never shown anybody. I have some tunes right now in my hard drive that I realize I haven’t released, and it’s so stupid that I haven’t because some of them are like, doo-wop meets hardcore punk meets … you know, there’s just a bunch of different stuff that I have that I’d like to start throwing out there.
Rock Cellar: What do you do for the band, sing?
Anthony Vincent: In the band, Set the Charge, I sing. I sing, occasionally play guitar, but I like to just sing.
Rock Cellar: Have you received any good feedback from any of the artists you cover in your videos?
Anthony Vincent: My first video — that was the video that really blew up, the one that got a lot of people looking at it — a lot of the folks represented in the video commented on it. Corey Taylor tweeted about it, Boyz II Men wanted to take me on tour with them, which I didn’t really know how to respond to (laughs), I should have. It’d have been fun.
Then you have, like, Type O Negative acknowledged my stuff, which was big for me since they’re one of my favorite bands. Recently, when I did “Chop Suey” in 20 styles last year, Shavo (Odadjian) from System of a Down shared it, loved it.
When it happens, it’s really mind-blowing, but it’s not something I expect. It’s not the goal.
Rock Cellar: You mentioned Type O Negative, you’re wearing a Frank Zappa shirt today. Who are your musical inspirations or favorite acts over the years?
Anthony Vincent: Growing up, the bands that got me into rock and metal were the stereotypical gateway bands, Metallica and Nirvana. I grew up in the late ’90s, early 2000s, so I was really influenced by that post-grunge, alternative sound. A lot of the punk bands of that time, like the Offspring. But at the same time, I was also brought up on my parents’ music — they were big Beatles fans, then my grandparents were into all the crooners like Frank Sinatra. My family was also really deep into musical theater, that’s not my music of choice but it’s kind of in my blood and tends to come out in performance at times.
Then of course, growing up in the ’90s, hip-hop was a big thing, it was also around. I’ve always been open to all kinds of music. And I mean it when I say, on any given day I might have a ’90s hip-hop playlist going, I might have some trip-hop like Massive Attack, but then I also love classic metal, Iron Maiden’s one of my favorite bands. Classic rock, Queen, Muse, I just like really big-sounding shit.
Rock Cellar: Your videos do transcend genres and styles, definitely. Everyone’s reaction to that first video was probably just as much “wow, all this variety is wild” as it was anything else. And considering you used Fiverr, which was one of the first sort of “support me as I create some cool stuff” website, you probably got in at a good time when it comes to that type of structure.
Anthony Vincent: Definitely, yeah. The thing with Fiverr was it was just something … I was working a job in retail. I had this studio at the time as I was in business with my brother and a friend, we did like broadcasting, stuff like that. I was trying to record bands, I was trying to make it as an engineer, which is painstaking. It’s really not that lucrative to begin with, doesn’t really make you happy. But I was really just trying it out, and my brother suggested, “Hey, check out Fiverr” and at first I was somewhat skeptical.
But it was a good start since it got me to realize that there was a lot I was capable of. It got me to understand a bit better my diversity, and just by doing things. And it got to a point where it built my confidence in realizing that I can actually make a living off this. People were contacting me outside of the platform to do work for way more money. It all really inspired me to take things to the next level, which was YouTube.
I didn’t foresee me becoming an entertainment thing, though. Then the video took off, Rolling Stone is doing interviews with me, I was thinking, “Well, maybe this is a good chance for something bigger.” But it works like that and it doesn’t work like that, it works so long as you work it the right way and you have patience. Because, like, taking the attention from Ten Second Songs and spreading it to my personal projects, has it worked maybe the way I thought it would have, at first when I went viral? No, not necessarily because that’s not how it works.
But it definitely — there’s a lot more attention on my original music than there ever would have been if I didn’t do what I did on YouTube.
Rock Cellar: So with Set the Charge, you released an album last year. Anything else happening in the coming months?
Anthony Vincent: We’re booking shows for the spring and summer, our whole thing is we put out the album, there’s a lot of songs on there that we’d been sitting on for a while, so it was good to put it out. So now we want to put out singles, just keep putting out music as it comes, but yeah, definitely live shows in the works. And like I said, a lot of music coming, that’s it. Just a lot of music in general.
I don’t know what will happen next. That’s the whole thing — with me, you never know what you’re gonna get. And rather than trying to pigeonhole it or control, organize it, I’m just letting it explode and see what happens. It’s the best way to go about it, it’s chaotic and organized at the same time.
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