THE BEAT

Nunes not just a YouTube sensation

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Julia Nunes
By ThisWeek Community News  • 

No matter how many times people use the term, Julia Nunes doesn’t consider herself a “YouTube artist.”

Nunes laughed when jokingly asked by The Beat what it was like to have invented this sort of grass-roots Internet form of artist development.

Since 2007, Nunes’ 86 self-made YouTube videos of cover songs and originals played on ukulele, which often find her harmonizing with herself, have scored more than 50 million views in all on YouTube. But her reply was serious, saying she doesn’t see a distinction between kinds of artists any more.

“If people like your music, you should be making records and touring,” she said, the clear implication being that it’s not enough to post homemade videos from your apartment.

But at the same time, every musician makes YouTube videos, Nunes said.

“When big-name artists make new videos, they go to YouTube first now, even before (television).”

Nunes told The Beat that, in the same way she didn't invent it, neither did she intend for it to lead to anything in particular – you know, like three records of original songs, tours and an appearance on Conan O’Brien’s show.

“It was a complete accident,” she said. “I was just putting up videos for my friends to see. I guess I thought of it as kind of private, for my friends.

“That backfired in a wonderful way.”

With a new record, Settle Down, and a tour to support it, Nunes is practicing what she preaches as regards to being a non-traditional versus legitimate artist, although she admitted venues and booking agents had some initial reticence when she began playing out.

She answered that concern by booking a few on her own – and selling them out.
 
“You have to convince people that you’re worthwhile ... and I did,” Nunes said with a laugh.
 
“You have to be willing to really go for it when you start touring. So far my experience has been really good.”
 
She added that the popularity of her YouTube videos created in advance “a following that started demanding shows. That’s very gratifying.”
 
Nunes said the next step is to get booked on larger tours opening for other artists, so she can, as she put it, “start playing for ‘not my audience.’ Thus far, I’ve mostly been playing for people who already know me.”
 
And expect the videos to continue despite what appears to be a more-traditional approach of late.
 
“I don’t really have a master plan,” Nunes said. “I’m always writing songs and working on music. I won’t ever be gone from music – that’s my only goal.”
 
Julia Nunes, with opener Mind Fish, will play The Basement Thursday, July 12. Tickets are $12. Visit promowestlive.com.

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