For a Local Guitarist, Television is Dead and YouTube is King

Todays News

Photo courtesy of the artist.

For musicians whose eyes are trained on becoming jukebox heroes, television talent shows are one of the most visible avenues. But Dovydas knows better. The Lithuanian-born guitarist made it to the finals of his country’s version of America’s Got Talent, then he competed in Eurovision, Europe’s biggest talent competition for music acts. “I set out to do it how musicians traditionally do,” he says, “go on television, record an album and get famous.” None of it worked. 

“The problem with those talent shows is that they basically own you for five years after you make an appearance,” he says, “you sign away your rights to be emotionally manipulated.” 

But he did catch the eye of Steve Arvey, a local bluesman that encouraged Dovydas, who is an absolute virtuoso on guitar and a stellar blues musician, to come to Sarasota. When he got here, figuring out how to make a living playing guitar still seemed difficult. “I had heard about gamers that can make $10 million a year playing video games on YouTube,” he says, “so I thought, ‘television is dead’ and I shifted my focus to YouTube.” 

He began playing out on the street and in venues almost every night of the week and recording his performances. With one camera on a tripod behind him and another on the head of his guitar, he began to edit his performances into the meatiest snippets to post on YouTube. He did this religiously for a couple years and built up a modest subscriber base. “But then me and my wife evacuated for Hurricane Irma and stayed in a hotel in Alabama,” he says, “My phone was broken, but when I came back, one of my videos blew up.”

The 9-minute video features Dovydas on the stage at Motorworks Brewing in Bradenton. It begins with a request from an off-camera audience member for a Steve Vai song, “Tender Surrender.” “I don’t know it note for note,” he tells her, but he looks up the chords on his phone so he doesn’t “butcher it.” He begins looping and layering a backing track with a synthesizer and drum machine, then at about the 4:15 mark, he starts working his hands on the strings with arpeggios, bent notes and all manner of guitar hero tricks and techniques.

The video currently has 10.5 million views. 

Dovydas now makes a good living as a virtuoso busker and YouTube content creator with over 1 million subscribers, playing primarily out of St. Armands circle and taking requests, often for songs he doesn’t know. He has viewers that fly into town just to see him perform on The Circle, eager to see in person this personable virtuoso who doesn’t take himself too seriously even if he takes the music seriously. “I think there’s a layer of entertainment to a challenge accepted,” he says, “and people want to see if I can do it.” 

He plays again September 7 on St. Armands, and encourages folks to “Come on out; I’ll ruin a song for you.”

Photo courtesy of the artist.

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