What started as hastily produced video uploaded to YouTube in 2009 has turned into a worldwide following for Sarnia guitarist Cole Rolland.
Rolland, 24, began playing guitar at age 10, but his notoriety began in high school when, on a whim, he recorded and uploaded a video of himself playing guitar.
“I shot it myself in like, one take on my dad’s video camera,” said Rolland. “I had no idea what I was doing.”
A year and a half later, a fellow student commented on Rolland’s video when he saw him at school. Turns out, that video had logged 150,000 views since its upload, and Rolland quickly discovered he had something to offer the music world.
Today, he has more than 300,000 followers on his channel, which is home to about 100 videos of him performing in his home studio, and collaborating with other musicians.
Typically, his videos show him performing popular rock, metal and electronic songs, fused with his unique sound.
To date, his top viewed video has more than 2.8 million views, with “a lot that are over a million, that are coming up to two million,” he added.
With that kind of traffic, Rolland is able to make some income in addition to his process operator job in the Chemical Valley. But he diverts most of his YouTube revenue back into his channel, he said.
Last year he invested in renovating his home studio, as well as regularly hiring Sarnia videographer Rory Florez to film his videos.
“It’s put to good use,” said Rolland.
Rolland’s guitar setup isn’t typical. He plugs one of his 11 guitars into a computer, where all the effects he uses are only a mouse click away.
While his focus is on covering popular songs, he’s beginning to explore writing and performing his own music as well.
“That’s kind of like the next step I think, transitioning into a lot more of that,” he said.
He’s also not afraid to take his guitar playing to the stage, where he’s performed with artists in Toronto and Niagara Falls.
Rolland visited Los Angeles this month, to produce a video at one of YouTube’s production studios.
He said the trip includes a training session, as well as an opportunity to work with a film crew.
To view Cole Rolland’s videos, visit www.youtube.com/colerolland.