YouTube Millionaires: Pro musician Landen Purifoy talk box’d his way to a million subscribers

By 01/12/2023
YouTube Millionaires: Pro musician Landen Purifoy talk box’d his way to a million subscribers

Welcome to YouTube Millionaires, where we profile channels that have recently crossed the one million subscriber mark. There are channels crossing this threshold every week, and each creator has a story to tell about YouTube success. Read previous installments here.

Music has always been a major part of Landen Purifoy‘s life. As a kid, he got lucky: When his mom remarried, his new stepdad moved in with a little Yamaha keyboard and let him loose on it. He was instantly smitten.

Using the keyboard, he taught himself to read music and play piano, and from there it seemed like his future was set. He did band and choir in middle and high school, and when it came time to choose a degree, he went for commercial music, intending to turn what he loved into a career.


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Then, a semester before he was set to graduate, COVID happened. Like millions of other people, Purifoy found himself stuck at home, scrolling social media. When he saw people on Instagram doing a 30-day posting challenge, he decided to join in. He’d learn a new song every day, cover it on the piano, and post it to his Story. He wasn’t doing it to get views; the videos mostly went out to his friends. But, he says, “For whatever reason, that rhythm, that posting one thing a day, was just stuck in me after that month.”

So he kept going. He shifted from Instagram to TikTok (where he now has 7 million followers), then began cross-posting his videos on YouTube Shorts.

At the same time, he made another important shift, moving from primarily making content with his beloved keyboard to making content using a talk box. Talk boxes are a kind of musical effect generator that lets musicians modify the sound of an instrument with their mouth (hence the “talk” in talk box). Purifoy bought one after meeting Mr. TalkBox, the musician behind the opening to Bruno Mars‘ “24K Magic.”

That turned out to be a wise purchase, because now talk box videos–along with “guess the song” videos, where he bangs on random things around his house to create the beats of popular songs–are some of the most popular on his growing YouTube channel.

Check out our chat with him below.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Tubefilter: For anybody who’s never seen your content, can you give me a little bit of background on you and your musical education and where you’re from, that kind of thing?

Landen Purifoy: Yes, for sure. I started doing music probably in middle school. I always really liked music when I was little. I never really took any piano lessons, any music lessons. When I grew up, I just knew I liked music. I would have my little Game Boy next to me and I’d just listen to the music on the games in the back of the car when my parents would drive me around. I always knew I liked music.

Eventually, my mom and my stepdad started going out. He had a keyboard, a little Yamaha keyboard, and when they got married, he came to the house and I just started dabbling with it and taught myself how to play the keyboard and went from there. That’s where I really started doing things. I did music in band and choir and all that in middle school and high school. I was always into music in school.

I graduated in 2018, and after I graduated, I went to a local community college. I was working on an associate’s degree in commercial music. During that time, my second year there, I think I only had one more semester left and that’s when COVID happened and everything was online and all that. I had just done this little challenge on Instagram. I hadn’t posted online really at all. I technically had a YouTube channel and I had made some fun little videos in the past, but nothing serious.

I got on Instagram and started doing this challenge during COVID, where there was a calendar, and each day for a month, I think it was in April or something like that, or May, each day of that month, you had to tell everybody a song that correlated with the calendar. The first day would be like, “What’s your favorite song with the color blue it?” or something like that. These random little questions for songs. I did that, but instead of just saying what song is my favorite, I would learn it on piano. I would actually learn the whole song and post it.

I did that for a whole month. Every single day, I learned a cover of a song and I posted it on Instagram and people were like, “Oh, you should post those on TikTok and stuff. I hated TikTok. I didn’t use it at all, but I was like, “Okay, whatever.” I started posting on YouTube Shorts and on TikTok and all that stuff. One video led to another. I was already in the rhythm of posting every day because I just did it for that month. I just kept posting once a day at least or try to do like two or three videos a day, having to do with random stuff or music. Eventually, it was all music.

I made this video series called Talk Box Effect. What it is I had this instrument called the talk box that I learned about in 2017, and I actually got one, I’d had it for five years at this point. I started making these talk box effects where you could use the talk box pretty much with your phone, putting these videos up to your mouth. I was making talk box videos and all kinds of different fun music stuff.

That’s what I aim for, is I make music niche content on all kinds of different instruments, genres, anything, but it’s all content that anyone can enjoy, not just musicians or people that appreciate and like music and get into it like that. My content I try to strive for is musical, but something that anybody that comes across the video can enjoy. That’s what I go for. I started making the “guess the song” videos, where I’d go around my house banging on random objects and stuff and making a beat, and then by the end of the song, hopefully you guess what song it is. I revealed the song at the end.

Tubefilter: Very cool. It’s funny, you’re I think probably the sixth or seventh person I’ve talked to for this column who’s like, “I was going to do it for a month. That was it, it was going to be one month and I was going to be done.” Then it just keeps going.

Landen Purifoy: Yes!

Tubefilter: During that original month, was there a video that took off? Or did you just enjoy it so much you wanted to keep going beyond the end of the month?

Landen Purifoy: Yes, like I said, I finished that challenge. That was on my Story on Instagram, that first month. I wasn’t even public. I posted those, and after that, it was just like, I don’t know, people talked about posting them in other places and I was like, “Okay.” For whatever reason, that rhythm, that posting one thing a day, was just stuck in me after that month, so I was like, “Well, I’ll just keep doing it and see what happens.”

My end goal when doing that, I didn’t really think I was going to blow up or anything, but I was like, “Well, you can. People are doing it. They’re blown up on short-form content and stuff like that.” I was like, “Okay, I guess I’ll try and then eventually I’ll translate everything to YouTube.” That was my plan from the beginning. It worked. I don’t know how.

Tubefilter: So you started on Instagram, and then what brought you to YouTube specifically?

Landen Purifoy: I started TikTok right after Instagram, because that’s when everybody was like, “Oh, you should post on TikTok,” and stuff like that. I was like, “Whatever.” I literally made my bio on TikTok to say, “I hate TikTok.”

Tubefilter: Reverse psychology.

Landen Purifoy: Yes. Anyway, though, I started on TikTok, and as soon as Shorts became a thing, it was relatively soon, right after I had started, I was posting on YouTube and TikTok. But the videos, let’s see, they didn’t do good for a while. I started blowing up on TikTok, but YouTube took like…I was posting for a year and nothing was popping off. Then at one point, after about a year…It was the beginning of 2022. I started TikTok summer of 2020. It was actually like a year and a half, and I’d been posting on YouTube and YouTube Shorts and TikTok and I’d only grown about 30,000 subscribers on YouTube.

A year and a half of posting on Shorts. At the beginning of 2022, I started changing up my content on TikTok a little bit and YouTube Shorts, because I’m posting on both platforms. I started making it more YouTube-ish, is what I was calling it. I was making it a little bit higher quality. I’m making more cuts, making everything fast-paced like YouTubers do. When I made that little shift, it wasn’t drastic, it was just how I was editing, really. Once I made that shift, it continued to do how it would do on TikTok, but then YouTube took off. I remember it was February or March of this year, I grew a hundred thousand subscribers in a month.

Tubefilter: Oh, wow.

Landen Purifoy: I forgot what videos…Oh, I think it was when I started doing more educational content having to do with the talk box and some other musical instruments. Those started doing really good. Then my best video was when I started doing the “guess the song” videos. This was in like June-ish of this year. I posted a Pirates of the Caribbean guess the song video. Right now it’s at 130 million views. That’s the biggest video I made. Then I hit a million subscribers. When did I hit a million? I remember I hit a hundred thousand and I got the silver plaque, and that was super exciting. I forget when I hit a million. It was in the fall, maybe August or September, something like that.

Tubefilter: What was the experience of hitting a million like for you?

Landen Purifoy: It was awesome. It’s different. On TikTok, I’m at 6.8 million. At this point, it’s like, you hit a million a bunch of times, it seems the same. YouTube is different, though. It’s different hitting your first million than other millions. On YouTube, I actually livestreamed when I hit a million. I had never livestreamed on YouTube before. It was cool. I was hanging out with my biggest fans and watching that timer go up and stuff like that, playing music and playing some video games while we were waiting and stuff like that. It was really fun. It was exciting. It was a great night when I hit a million.

Tubefilter: Well, congratulations. It’s a huge milestone.

Landen Purifoy: Thank you.

Tubefilter: Especially after throwing yourself at it for a year and a half and struggling, it’s hard to keep doing it. That’s a big accomplishment.

Landen Purifoy: Yes, thank you.

Tubefilter: You said you made this change in how you edit. Has anything else changed about your content, or about you personally and professionally overall, since you got on YouTube?

Landen Purifoy: Since I started, you can go back and look at them, I would like to say I’ve always been pretty good in front of a camera when it comes to videos. When I was really little, like nine and ten and stuff, when YouTube wasn’t out for very long, I wanted to make YouTube videos, and I did. I made these silly, really stupid little videos that I made. I got comfortable in front of a camera.

I will say, if you scroll back all the way to the first YouTube videos and stuff, my face, I’d be in front of the camera playing whatever and I’m just not smiling or something like that. If you listen to my voiceovers of some of the educational stuff or anytime I would talk, it would be too chill. I would be, “Yes, so this is this and that.” I’m way more enthusiastic when I talk voiceover or over a video or in front of the camera now. I’m always smiling and facial gestures and all that stuff. It’s all a lot more enthusiastic now. That’s one big thing, for sure.

Tubefilter: Got it. What drives your passion for music specifically? What originally sparked your specific interests?

Landen Purifoy: Man. Music in general just is, I guess, a part of me. It sounds cliche, but when I was little, I just always gravitated to it and I was humming and all this stuff and I wanted to play keys and I learned by myself and all that stuff. That all came naturally, I’d say. One of the big things that motivated me was when I met Mr. TalkBox.

Mr. TalkBox, he’s the one who plays the intro to “24K Magic” by Bruno Mars. That’s all in a Talkbox. I got to meet him randomly once summer, and I had never heard of a talk box in my life. I played keys and all this stuff. He shared his testimony, which is really cool, and told about how he came up and then how he got with Bruno Mars and all this stuff. Actually, he was found by Bruno Mars because he was posting on YouTube. He was posting these little covers and his original music on the talk box and stuff. He shared all that.

Like I said, I’d never heard of a talk box in my life. I got one right after I met him and I was horrible at it. I was horrible at it even when I started TikTok, honestly. Now that I’ve used it every single day, I’ve mastered it. Definitely Mr. TalkBox–Byron Chambers is his name–was a big motivation.

The other thing is I took a video with him, so I had it on my phone when he was playing the “24K Magic” thing. I uploaded that to YouTube just randomly. That technically wasn’t a Short even though it was like 20 seconds long, because it was landscape, but that video got like 7 million views. He reached out to me and he was like, “Hey, dude, thank you so much for this and that.” I got him 50,000 followers on TikTok and Instagram. He was super happy about it and he remembered me. Now we talk every now and then. We know each other on a better basis, which is super cool. He was a huge influence, I would say.

Tubefilter: What’s your production process like these days? Is this your full-time thing? Are you filming every day? Do you have a specific production and posting schedule?

Landen Purifoy: Yes, I do. It is full-time. I’m working pretty much nine to five every weekday. My normal schedule is, Monday I’ll get up, I get up around eight or whatever, get my coffee and all that stuff. I come to my office and Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. I’ll write out the week and I’ll start coming up with video ideas for each day of the week. Before, I didn’t really have a schedule and I didn’t know what I was doing. I would pretty much have to come up with the ideas that day. Eventually, I found out that is not good because I spend two hours trying to think of a video and then it was like halfway through the day and I don’t have anything yet.

Monday mornings, I try to plan out my week. Now I have so many different little series of videos that I make, whether it’s a guess the song video, a talk box effects video, a cover, this or that kind of thing. That makes it easier for me.

Every Wednesday I’ll make a guess the song video. I don’t have to really think about that. Eventually I’ll just come up with the song that I’m going to be making the video about. On Mondays, I try to write out Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday what video I’m going to be making, coming up with content ideas and stuff like that, checking emails.

I do have a management company that I work with, so I talk to them about brand deals and all that stuff. Then I get to the recording. I try to start recording by 10:30 a.m. and I’ll hopefully get that video finished by noon and I’ll have lunch for 30 minutes or an hour. Then if there’s anything else I need to make…Most time I don’t finish the video by then. Today I just recorded all the audio for the video I’m going to be making. I just pre-recorded all the audio, mixed it, made a song for this thing.

Then normally I’ll have lunch from like 12 to one, and then I’ll get back at it. I’ll record the video, I’ll finish it, I’ll edit it up. Try to finish editing by three or 3:30 p.m. Once I finish editing, depending on what video it is, like the one I’m making today, I’m using my nice camera. I’m pre-recording all the audio. It pretty much takes the whole day to record and finish editing and everything.

Some days I only get one video. I try to do one video every day. If I have extra time, then I’ll record little simpler videos that I can do on my phone or something like that. I’ll try to get two or three videos in. Yesterday I made six videos. They were all smaller. I’m trying to get a lot in so I can take a week off for Christmas.

Tubefilter: Yes, please do that.

Landen Purifoy: I try to finish up by three or 3:30 p.m. recording any content I’m making for the day and scheduling it. TikTok, it makes me very mad right now because you can’t schedule a post. It’s very annoying because with TikTok I like to post in the evening, around 7:30 p.m. I have an alarm every day. When the alarm goes off, I have to go and manually post. YouTube, I post at 9 a.m.

Tubefilter: Is there any particular reasoning for that, or is it just what you found works for you?

Landen Purifoy: I started posting at 9 a.m. I think for some reason. Eventually, that’s when most of my audience is online, is nine to 12, so that’s when I post. That’s pretty much the only time. Then if I have a second video in the same day, I’ll do 2 p.m. That’s my other good time, I guess. I try to finish up scheduling, editing, all that stuff by 3:30-ish. Then I live a livestream every weekday on TikTok. I’ve been doing that for about a year and a half, actually, every weekday, streaming on TikTok. I’ll do that till 5 p.m. and call it a day. That’s my main schedule.

Tubefilter: Why is it TikTok you choose to stream on, out of curiosity?

Landen Purifoy: A year and a half ago, they reached out to a bunch of people and they paid a certain amount to go live because they wanted to make their livestreaming better and they wanted new creators to be streaming on it. That’s how it started. I was getting paid for it. That was cool. Then I realized people liked the stream and people were donating gifts and stuff, money. At first I was doing piano, and then I started doing a talk box stream, where I would just take song requests and play them. I was making a lot of money. Then they changed up their algorithm. It’s actually horrible right now. It’s not worth my time right now, which sucks because I have a huge audience that loves the livestream.

I was making a lot of money off the livestream and they changed the algorithm. My stream is an hour to two hours. I was averaging 250,000 to 500,000 viewers per stream, per one to two-hour stream. Now I average about 70,000. They changed something up big time. I’ve been in contact with them and everything and they’re not going to say anything. It could be organic, it could be because of COVID. Everybody was home and now they’re not. It could be anything. Anyways, I went from that to this. I’m actually starting a Twitch stream, and I’m going to be doing that.

Tubefilter: I was just going to ask that, if you’d considered Twitch.

Landen Purifoy: The only problem is you can’t do copyrighted music anywhere except for TikTok, and that’s what I do. I take song requests and that’s the whole stream.

Tubefilter: Is it still copyright violative if you’re playing a song?

Landen Purifoy: Yes. When I play it, I have it going on in the background. Even if you can cover, technically, it’s still copyright. Melodies are copyrighted, lyrics are copyrighted. I think you can get away with doing covers. I think you can definitely cover if it’s different enough. Like I said, I have an iPad, and I go to the song and then I play on top of it. That being said, I can’t do any of that on YouTube or Twitch, even.

Tubefilter: What are your plans for Twitch?

Landen Purifoy: I’ve just been doing video games. My audience that watches my livestream on TikTok, they want all the content they can get from me. They love to come and hang out on Twitch and stuff like that. I’m going to be dual streaming on both. I did do that one stream when I hit a million, where we were just going to hang out, play video games, stuff like that. I did that on YouTube and it was good.

I have such a large audience on YouTube versus Twitch because it’s impossible to grow on Twitch. It only makes sense to stream on YouTube. I want to do both for now, but then I’ll probably, honestly, end up on YouTube. Right now, yes, it’s weird. I love streaming. It’s a big part of my audience and stuff like that, and people love it. At this point, since the views are so low, the pay is not like it was. It’s weird. I’d had streams that went two and a half hours long and they were crazy. I hit a million two times. When I say that, that’s total viewers that stopped in at some point, not live. Live, I would average on TikTok 5,000 to 15,000 people on at a time.

Tubefilter: Oh, concurrents. Still, that’s very impressive.

Landen Purifoy: Yes, exactly. I was doing that for about a year and then it flipped the switch. It changed. That was a huge thing. They were literally paying me to go live for the first three months. It was a three-month thing. After that, I’ve continued to go live. I have no contact at TikTok, and my livestreams, I would get banned for nudity, drugs, weapons, when I’m literally fully clothed. I don’t even cuss. I’m family friendly. I don’t cuss, I don’t do anything. I’m literally playing music for people.

It’s TikTok. If a bunch of people spam report you for something, your stream will get shut down and it’s over with. I had no contact at TikTok for a very long time. Eventually, I finally got a rep at TikTok, which is awesome. I’m grateful for it, but I understand people getting their accounts banned when they have a million followers and you can’t do anything about it. That’s how it was. I’m lucky to have a rep at TikTok now. I can reach out. That’s what I’ve loved about YouTube, is I can get support.

Tubefilter: YouTube is certainly not perfect, but I think they have the best creator support in the business.

Landen Purifoy: Yes, for sure.

Tubefilter: Aside from getting into streaming, do you have any goals or plans for the next year or so?

Landen Purifoy: This year has been my biggest year growth-wise with everything. I just was able to buy my first house. I’d never bought a house before. It was about two months ago I moved in. Content has been a little bit slower, kind of, not really. There’s been a lot of brand deals and stuff coming up for Christmas and stuff like that. Video-wise, I’ve been having to work on my house, put my office together, all this, and work at the same time. It’s been weird these last few months, but this next year I want to hit the ground running.

This year personally for me is big. I want to do a lot of, I’d say, money moves. I want to do a lot more investing. I’ve never done merch before. I want to do merch this year. Full-length YouTube content is a huge push for this year. That’s going to be probably– Really, content-wise, this is going to be the main goal for this year, is to get out long-form content. I started doing it a little bit before I moved out, but then when I moved out, I had no time. Nowt that I’m getting settled in, I”d love to be making one full-length video a week, three or four a month.

Tubefilter: That’ll certainly help with monetization on your end.

Landen Purifoy: Yes, true. I know YouTube is launching their new monetization program, which is going to be awesome. I can’t wait for that. I know TikTok’s doing one too. It’s called Pulse, I think, TikTok Pulse, but I don’t know anything about it. Besides when they first announced it, I haven’t heard anything about it. The Creator Fund, as you know, is trash. These Shorts bonuses have been very impressive–

Tubefilter: Really?

Landen Purifoy: –compared to TikTok. Oh, yes. Compared to TikTok, it’s…I can’t wait to see the YouTube’s new monetization thing for Shorts and all that. That’ll be really cool. Like you said, long-form is way more substantial. I don’t have to rely on brand deals and stuff like that if I’m making long-form content that’s doing well.

It’s a whole different world. You can’t just grow a million to two million subscribers on YouTube and then post long-form and it performs the same. You start over. You completely start over when you do long-form. It’s going to be a grind. I know I’m going to struggle with it. Videos aren’t going to do good, and they’re not going to do good for a long time, but it’s going to take a lot more time and a lot more money. I tried to edit a long-form video, it took me like three days. It took way too long.

Tubefilter: You need an editor.

Landen Purifoy: Yeah, I have to pay an editor. It takes time and money and it’s not going to perform well at first. That’s going to be the hardest thing.

Tubefilter: You certainly understand the time investment, though. It’s just navigating your way through algorithm.

Landen Purifoy: Right.

Tubefilter: Is there anything else you feel like people should know about you?

Landen Purifoy: I don’t know, just my content’s always family-friendly and it’s all positive and fun stuff. If you like music and you want to learn something about music that you didn’t know, or just have a good time and listen to some fun covers, check out my stuff.

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