The YouTube landscape is littered with dreamers, people striving to earn a living by way of their passions, be it playing video games, reviewing films and/or games, or by way of a more traditional talent. Regardless of one’s particular path, building a following to the point where you can quit a day job and make a living off ad revenue and Patreon accounts is exceptionally rare. But to do it all by way of hard rock/punk covers of famous Disney songs is perhaps the rarest of all.
Jonathan Young Fried joined YouTube in September of 2012 when he was still a high school student in Minnesota. Despite this, his first cover wouldn’t be released until June of the following year. Promising “a new music video every dang week,” Young’s immense talent and down-to-Earth personality have endeared him millions within the YouTube community. From his cover of Hercules’s Go the Distance to his metal cover of the Backstreet Boys hit, Larger Than Life, “Jonathan Young” has proven himself wonderfully diverse, often playing guitar, drums, and even keyboard while providing his own vocals.
Although his best-known works most likely come from his Disney albums (Young Does Disney 1 & 2), he’s also covered numerous anime themes and other rock, pop, and punk tracks. The evolution of Young’s videos may well be the most impressive facet of his channel. In the beginning, it was simply him, a camera, and perhaps a guest guitarist or bassist. Often times, he would film at his old high school, the local mall, or some other free venue. Since that time, his channel and base of “Youngsters” have built to such a degree that in 2015 he made the move from Minnesota to sunny San Diego. Thanks to contributions to his Patreon account, Young’s music videos have reached impressive professional quality few YouTubers can match. This support has not only allowed Young to invest in the best equipment and software, but in 2017, he even opened his own studio, Villainous Media.
The studio offers services for Photography, Videography, Music Production, and Space Rental. Young, himself, uses the space for his videos now and even consults and produces for other content creators who enlist his services. Located in La Mesa, California, Villainous Media provides a bright future and tremendous potential for growth for Young and his team moving forward.
In his five-plus years on YouTube, Young has amassed over 800,000 subscribers and more than 130,000,000 total views (only, like, 30% of which are likely my own. Probably…).
Above all, Jonathan remains that same nerdy kid from Minnesota who turned to YouTube to make silly videos of himself covering the movie soundtracks he grew up with. The only difference now is that he has literally hundreds of thousands of adoring fans and the occasional mini-tour during con-season. Throughout it all, he remains dedicated to both his fans and his craft. Whether his future lies with YouTube, becoming one of the biggest non-record-label music channels out there, or if there’s a major record label and original music awaits remains to be seen. Regardless, he’s achieved something precious few have: harnessing his passions to make a living, all the while remaining true to himself.