Jake Shimabukuro and the exploding niche

Last night I went with a few friends to Yoshi’s in Oakland to see Ukulele player Jake Shimabukuro put on a sold out show.

This guy is a Ukulele player. He’s outrageously talented, but he’s still a Ukulele player. I’ll bet most people in the Bay Area have never even seen a Ukulele before, but somehow this guy managed to sell out multiple shows.

How did that happen? Well, Jake told us.

A while back he was asked to do a performance for a tv show called Ukulele disco. Clearly Jake was already a star in the Ukulele world. They went out to Central Park in NY and taped him playing his beautiful arrangement of “While my guitar gently weeps”. Some time later, all of a sudden, more and more people started showing up at his performances. They told him that they saw his video on Youtube. He said, “You-what”?

It turns out that someone posted his clip from Ukulele disco to Youtube and the clip quickly went viral. Since then millions of people have viewed it. “That video changed my life”, Jake said before he performed the song for us. “It allowed me to play all over the world in all kinds of places that I never could have before”. He was genuinely appreciative.

That clip is how I was introduced to his music and I bet most of the people in the room at Yoshi’s were in the same boat.

Youtube allowed Jake to escape a rather obscure niche. I’m really glad I got to see him play, and without Youtube it would never have happened. It’s the modern day equivalent of being on the Late Show. The difference is that today many, many more people get the opportunity to be seen.

Check out the clip:

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