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You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows

  • Two years ago, I committed to YouTube as the publishing platform for the videos that I and my team make. Their destination until that point had been Vimeo — it looked better and an absence of pre-roll ad injection made it a cleaner user experience. But YouTube had the numbers. And if your intent is to bring more people into the hi-fi world, you need to be where the people are.

    The first 1000 subscribers were by far the toughest to acquire. It took over three months. After that, the pace quickened. We hit 20,000 subscribers after ten months, 40,000 after another six. But take a picture of this: at the 24-month mark we have clocked up our 100,000th YouTube subscriber. Two years to witness first-hand that channel growth is logarithmic.

    During a trip to Copenhagen and Malmö last August (at the 50,000 subscriber mark), I was stopped in the street twice by strangers who watched my channel. This happened not a single time in the eight years that I ran only this website. A year prior, I was approached in a Berlin cafe as I met with my accountant: “Hey, are you John Darko? I watch your videos.”

    It’s nice to be recognised but I’m not keen on building a personality cult. I am, however, a fan of broadening the audience for what we might loosely call ‘better sound’. The numbers and the anecdotes tell us in no uncertain terms that YouTube is the gateway to new people. It’s why I’ve been so vocal in encouraging manufacturers to start their own channels.

    The advantage of running a YouTube channel is that you reach more of the mainstream. But that blessing can also be a curse. To talk about digital audio sources sound not sounding the same is to invite a never-breaking wave of (oft abusive) comments that such a finding simply isn’t possible. It’s only ones and zeroes. It either works or it doesn’t. That what I’m hearing is pure placebo. Holding back any Dunning-Kruger-related retort (“you don’t know what you don’t know”), I remain curious as to why such folk bring their derisory attitude to coverage of certain products but not others. If audiophiles are indeed stalked by psychoacoustics, it must be for all products. And if not, why not?

    An even larger challenge is helping freshly acquired audience members understand that I am not an audio consultant and that there is no dodging the universal truth of the audiophile world: that only via home demo opportunitiesnot hi-fi shows – do we gain the necessary first-hand experience for our taste in hardware, our preferred music and when listening to loudspeakers, our room’s size and acoustic make-up.

    My job is to point you at interesting products and to point out any differences/similarities to rival models. Comparisons remain – where relevant – the cornerstone of my work. I’ve not penned a review since the Schiit Modi 3, which, 18 months down the line, has been read 75,000 times. Not bad. But the Schiit Modi 3 video scripted by the written review has been viewed 640,000 times!

    Darko.Audio website traffic stats for the past month — 284,000 unique visitors, up around 25% on two years ago:

    Darko.Audio YouTube channel traffic stats for the past month — 358,000 unique visitors, up from next to nothing:

    Our corner of YouTube now picks up more than 9,000 new subscribers per month with many videos clocking up 100,000 views in a matter of weeks. You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

    However, the written word sometimes, but not always, accommodates deeper insight than a video. Or is it that this website’s audience tolerates deeper analysis than the YouTube channel’s audience? To this end, my next review will be written, not filmed.

    Further information: Darko.Audio Patreon

    Written by John

    John currently lives in Berlin where he creates videos and podcasts for Darko.Audio. He has previously contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

    Follow John on YouTube or Instagram

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