Retro Crunch – how YouTube turned a problem into a solution

YouTube, for all its good and bad, allows us to connect and more importantly share. Share anything and everything, with those who contain the same passion as you or I. Think of any random topic, any instrument you want to play, and a plethora of interesting and helpful videos will explode onto your screen.

However, when Scott Hurst tried to find an outlet for his passionate addiction, YouTube provided him with nothing. Unperturbed, this sparked Scott into action and instead of cursing YouTube for failing him; he actually used the platform to start his own channel – Retro Crunch.

With zero previous experience in producing videos, YouTube taught him everything he needed to know. From what equipment to use, to what editing programmes to buy and how to use them, and finally stealing tips from the very best such as Philip DeFranco.

In a relatively short space of time, Scott has gone from complete novice to a man who has over 17,000 subscribers. Below, Scott tells us his story, describing how Retro Crunch came to fruition, what the channel is all about and how he built it up into what it is today.

Scott Hurst – the man behind Retro Crunch

Scott Hurst – The Man, The Myth…

Before we get into the nitty gritty of what Retro Crunch is all about, first, let me paint a picture of the man behind the myth.

Scott is a respectable, chirpy family man based in Texas. A child of the 70’s, his heroes are Mr T and Sly Stallone, admiring their strength of character and chutzpah, having both come through adversity. When I speak with him, his smile rarely falters and a chuckle is always just around the corner.

However life took a turn for the worst for Scott a few years ago. During 2016, he suffered great family losses which included his Mother, Father and his 15 year old pet dog.

To cope, Scott threw himself into his lifelong passion – retro nostalgia.

A select few toys from Scott’s extensive collection. “I have so many Optimus Primes and transformer toys, that you’d think I could open a toy store!”

What originally started your passion for nostalgia?

“Toys and Comic books.  I’ve collected comic books all my life. Also, I love the old 80s cartoons and toys, so since my 20’s I’ve kept looking for and collecting the toys I loved as a child.

My collections grew and grew, to a point that I knew I was an avid and obsessed collector.  I had a real problem.  But it wasn’t until after my parents died that I realised I had a collecting problem – I was spending way too much money and time on it.”

You describe nostalgia as being a ‘real problem’. How did you turn the problem into a solution?

“I recognized that I was spending all my time and money on something that really wasn’t filling me with what I needed… I would buy or do things nostalgic that gave me a temporary fix, but then I would just want more and more… to the point that it consumes you.

I sought to fix [this].  So I started a channel that I could put my time, effort, interest, and love into and it has really been great for me.”

You originally sought a YouTube channel before creating your own – why?

“I really did love to watch, talk to, and read about other people’s experiences with nostalgia.  I felt this was a way for me to cope with my nostalgia addiction… I needed a place to vent and occupy my time…and couldn’t find it.”

Why did you choose YouTube as the platform to share your passion? 

“I love the aspect of freedom and [the] ability to be creative that YouTube lends.  It is a godsend for people that need to express their passions, feelings, and creativity without reprisal…or mostly without reprisal!

It gave me a place I could prove my worth and ability to succeed.  YouTube is a great equalizer.  Anyone can fail, anyone can succeed.”

 

The birth of Retro Crunch – how to curate a channel from scratch

Scott has come through adversity and channelled his passionate energy into a YouTube channel (is that why they call it a ‘channel’? A place for channelling?)  Anyway, moving on…

The videos on Retro Crunch are slick and professional. Content is focused on all things 70’s, 80’s and 90’s – sorry noughties, you didn’t make the cut.

Every week Scott presents two weekly news shows, roughly about five to ten minutes in length. Although focused on retro news, the content is surprisingly modern and relevant, such as discussing movie re-makes or the next series of Stranger Things.

The news videos provide the backbone for the channel, keeping it fresh and providing a constant stream of new content. However, the channel has a wide variety of content to please all shapes and sizes of nostalgia lovers. A flavour of the channel content includes:

  • Every 80’s cartoon intro;
  • Countdown of every 1970’s live action superhero show;
  • Sounds every 80’s kids will remember;
  • Retro Unboxing;
  • Reboots, Remakes and Revivals;
  • Retro Commercials; and
  • Live Streams.

Lynda Carter (left) and Gal Gadot (right) as Wonder Woman

What makes your content appealing? How do you think the format contributes to this appeal?

“I think what makes my content appealing to my audience is that it is all material that helps me and others to reminisce and enjoy the past.  It’s all about remembering that time… I try to re-invoke that memory that we had as a young adult or child.

The format I use is what I’m comfortable with. I try to present the news, for example, in a quick, thoughtful, yet complete and informative way.  The ambassador for the way I do my news is Philip Defranco.

I try and inject some evergreen content I like into my channel as well.  It’s not news, it’s content that anyone, anytime, can come to my channel and enjoy.  Like my 80s and 90s cartoon intros.  They have done well, yet [it is] content that almost everyone will enjoy!

It’s good to have both personal content for your close subscribers and also material that all audiences will enjoy.  One to develop your base and the other to bring in more subscribers to build a full community.  You need both.”

How did you prepare for your first ever video?

“I prepared way back then by emulating what worked.  I saw what was working on YouTube and I tried to emulate that.  What Bucks [Michael Buckley], Philly D [Philip DeFranco] were doing… I watched how they went through monologues, their mannerisms.

I later learned that I needed to be me, do it my way. For the most part, I still do what I am comfortable with, and I have stuck to my same methods [since] 2017”.

Philip DeFranco – American YouTube personality with over 6.4 million subscribers

How did you get your name out there?

“In the first few months, I spent a few dollars on google advertising through AdSense. This didn’t really work, and I advise against it to other creators.

When you first start [on] YouTube, you should grow organically.  This gives you time to understand the platform, grow as a creator, make mistakes, and generally try and figure out that the hell you’re doing!  Don’t be impatient.

For me, it’s all about community. I wanted an instant community which I could wrap my arms around and hug. And I didn’t have that so I tried to pay for it. I tried to buy a community. You can’t buy a community. You won’t get the people that are interested in you by buying them.

When you get bigger and [have] proven yourself, and you know who you are and what product you have, it’s a lot easier to find the right people and to get Google to bring you the right people.

[I have] a distribution plan; a list of about 10 platforms [where] I want to see my videos. When I make a video, I post it there.  [Platforms] include Twitter, Facebook, 80’s website forums, Reddit, MIXX, Digg, Pinterest, and Tumblr.

I don’t spend any money on advertising.”

Can you give us a run through of your production process?

“I’m meticulous on how I do things. Very quickly, it can become cluttered and a mess when keeping track of your information. You want to start being organised from Video Number One.

I maintain lists of websites and sourcing material in folders for reference. I have a list of over 200 online resources that I reference depending on what I need to research.

It’s taken a long time to build [the list]. A lot of the news that I talk about people didn’t even know about, and this is due to my extensive list of resources.

Google News searches [is] a good way to pick up new resources. Pay attention to where Google News gets their resources, because Google News aggregates thousands of different news outlets.

I scour the internet via my source pages for news that is retro, nostalgic [and] within my niche.  I save off the URL for every one of them.  This takes me a few hours a week.

I thoroughly research each article/topic and make an outline for talking points for each of the subjects I will discuss.

While researching each topic… I have two folders I work out of.  One is in [Microsoft] OneNote where I do all the writing of the outline and research.  The other folder I save all the videos [and] pictures.

[For recording] I always keep my camera (Canon 70D) and three lights (Neewer OE160) ready to go and charged up.  And I use a RODE VideoMicro attached to the [Canon] 70D for audio.

Behind the scenes – Scott’s camera and lighting set-up

I record my video, which uncut is about 10-15 minutes.  I do make mistakes and sometimes repeat whole topics or subjects, which I fix in the editing phase.

Once recording [is finished], I use Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2017 and Photoshop 2017 to do my editing.

[Originally], I had zero experience in camera’s and editing.  Everything I learned about how to set up the equipment, exactly what equipment to buy, how to understand the better software, all that I learned on YouTube. It is an exhaustive location for training and education.

I first create all my cuts and edits of the video itself, which will bring the video size down to about 3-5 minutes… then I begin to add in the B roll footage as needed. When I have a complete video, I can now create a Photoshop thumbnail.

Your title, thumbnail and description are extremely important. Your thumbnail is the door, your title is what is written on the door, and you description is what’s behind the door. The most important thing is your hero – the main topic of the video. Make sure it is forefront in your thumbnail.

One of Retro Crunch’s most successful thumbnails – the video gained over 866,000 views

For my weekly news the total production time is probably about 3-4 hours per news video, per week. For my entertainment videos, it can be much longer. For example, my 80’s cartoon intro videos took me months of off and on research to find all the cartoon intros and confirm they are US only, when they were on TV [etc].

How do you manage your time effectively between work and family?

“I usually do my video work late in evening or just at night… so I can still be with my family.  I set a schedule for my video work, and I try and stick to it.  That way my family always knows why I’m in my office doing my video work. It works for my family pretty well.”

You often use clips from cartoons, TV shows and movies. Is copyright infringement something you have to deal with often, and if so, how do you manage it?

“Yes it is a problem and I deal with the situations as they come.

I don’t really worry about copyright infringement when I am doing educational or informative [videos], which is mostly why I do not get [a] strike.

I do not try and use material out of self-interest, but interest of my viewers, and I think that’s the important difference.

In the description at the bottom of my video, I always try and list the source I got the information. ”

 

You can’t buy a community

So far Scott has given us all the tools and tips to start creating your own channel. However, as Scott says in his own words, “you can’t buy a community!”

Audience is key to any success within social media influencing. Why else would you do it? As Scott himself points out to me, “if you’re not providing a service of some sort to the public, then why are you even doing videos? …You need to make sure you are giving back to your subscribers.”

In the following passage, Scott shows us how can you nurture a community and ensure you look after your fans.

Retro community

What have you found are the best ways to engage with your audience?                    

“Straight on, talk directly to them; look them in the eye [the camera].

It takes a while to get used to the camera. It’s not natural for a human to talk to an inanimate object. Dependant on the person, it takes up to hundreds of videos to get comfortable with the camera.

It’s [also] important to let them know you are talking to them and only them.  I do sometimes say we, us, y’all, but my audience as a whole knows that I am talking to my community.  That’s important.  They need to know we’re all in it together. That’s where I try to build that community and collective.”

Your engagement with your audience is mainly positive. However, how do you cope with any negativity?

“Negativity is normal and its part of being a YouTuber. I will admit it’s tough when someone says mean things about you and they don’t know you at all.

After time, you can learn to tune out the bad noise and concentrate on the good and the people you are there to connect with and entertain and educate.

If you know exactly why you’re doing YouTube and have a passion for your subject – you’re going to be able to stay focused and stick with it. You have a support structure that will come to your aid, that will support your message and goals, and that is very important and powerful!’’

Retro Unboxing and Live Streaming are two ways you engage with your audience. Can you provide some tips on how to improvise?

“Unboxing is one of those things that I am really hard on myself.  I always feel that there is something I left out, or that I should have went more into detail on.

It’s sometimes hard to prepare… having a list of things you want to talk about ahead of time can help.

I’m meticulous to make sure I don’t have a lot of dead air time.

[For the live streams] I do 80’s and 90’s trivia. They’re able to engage with me, I talk with them. I keep track of the leader board. It’s extremely engaging.

Scott during one of his unboxing videos

 

If it ain’t retro, it ain’t worth watching

“Retro’s the best!”

Beginning as a complete novice, Scott has built a professional, original channel and fostered a community of over 17,000 retro enthusiasts. His most popular video has been viewed almost 900,000 times.

Scott’s story is one of success. Like his childhood heroes, he has come through adversity to achieve success. It shows us that, cliché as it sounds, anyone of us can do it if we apply ourselves. As the man himself says, “YouTube is a great equalizer.  Anyone can fail, anyone can succeed.”

In current times of uncertainty and insecurity we are all, at some level, going through adversity. Even in his darkest days, Scott produced something wonderful.

As Sly Stallone once famously said, “You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!” 

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