The team behind Sugarshack Sessions (270K subscribers; 120M views), a YouTube series that was born in a backyard in Bonita Springs, FL, has built a community for musicians and audiences to connect.
Sugarshack Sessions is a discovery platform sharing performances and stories for music lovers to enjoy, in the same family of Tiny Desk and Audiotree. “We created a live session platform for artists to showcase their music in high quality audio and video. A library of music that a listener/subscriber can dig into and find a variety of different artists,” noted Eddie Kopp, Sugarshack’s founder. Sugarshack Sessions is shot in his backyard with his deck as the stage.
We spoke exclusively to Eddie Kopp about Sugarshack.
PH: Hello! How are you? How have the past few months been for you?
Eddie Kopp: Hey there! Over the past few months Sugarshack has been at an all time high on many different levels. Our music channel is growing exponentially, our record label is reaching more and more fans with every weekly release while our commercial video company is in demand nationwide.
PH: Let’s talk about SugarShack Sessions. How was this community born? Can you walk me through the process from ideation to creation?
Eddie Kopp: Sugarshack Sessions started on my back deck, at my 900 sq. ft. bungalow in Bonita Springs, Florida. I had the idea of starting an acoustic web series after playing drums in Florida bands for many years and building a network of musicians ranging from local to national. Bonita Springs is along the only route to get to Miami, a very common tour stop in the state, so we started inviting bands to my home to create content with us while they were on the road. We offered an opportunity to take a break from the road for a few hours, provide a light meal, a beer or two and create timeless content together (free of charge for the artist). Fast forward 8 years, we’re premiering new videos 4 nights a week, sitting at 287k subscribers, and growing every day.
PH: What’s the benefit of utilizing YouTube? How can you reach more people that way?
Eddie Kopp: Youtube isn’t easy, we knew that going in but knowing that if we can stay consistent, focused on production quality and really build a brand that people want to be a part of, that we could eventually build this into a career for our team. The live session community on YouTube is still small and we believe we bring a unique and original approach to the space. With the fanbase we’ve created, we have’ve been able to build a full retail side of the business too. Sugarshack takes an interesting approach to the platform, mixing your classic “media company” and the modern “youtuber” to build what we do. Youtube really has been an amazing springboard for this company.
PH: You actually shoot the series in your backyard, which is so awesome. What’s the setup look like?
Eddie Kopp: It’s nothing fancy, that’s for sure! It truly is just my back deck beneath the palms. It’s a 10×10 space, extremely small and a challenge for us on the production side, but nothing a 11mm lens can’t fix. Every time an artists shows up they immediately mention something about how small the space is in person but how grand it looks online. I think the size of the set adds to the intimacy of the acoustic session concept and encourages artist to focus on dynamics and keeping things stripped down. On the production side of things, our wide angle camera (my setup) is on an 8’ dolly, we run a second dolly on a 70-200mm off to the side of the deck, and then we have two easy rig operators on either side of my dolly on a 50mm and a 24-70mm. We like to have a lot of movement in our shots keeping the visuals very dynamic. We built a lighting truss off of my roof to run all our lights (and fans! it is Florida).
PH: You record sessions with Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6Ks. Can you talk about some of the amazing features that make these cameras the perfect selection?
Eddie Kopp: We upgraded to Blackmagic Design cameras just under 2 years ago. The entire team was on Sony a7sii’s. The dynamic range alone has to be our favorite upgrade. The cameras produce a beautiful image that color grades really nice too. For all of our sessions we run pro mist filters and I think it really shines on these cameras. Coming from Sony’s we love the menu setups and the overall usability of the Blackmagic Design cameras they are very easy to navigate and dial in anything you need.
PH: Why do artists record acoustically? You won’t find any electric guitars on the stage. How does that allow listeners to get a unique listening experience?
Eddie Kopp: We wanted to create a live experience that you can’t typically buy a ticket to see. Bring your favorite artist in, strip it down and challenge them create unique versions of their music that you haven’t heard before. We think it gives the viewer (or subscriber) a reason to keep coming back knowing that on the Sugarshack Music Cchannel you can always count on a unique live music experience.
PH: Who has access? How can other artists and listeners access SugarShack Sessions?
Eddie Kopp: Everyone has access, majority of our content is free on our youtube channel now. We did recently launch our membership club for $5 a month, which we are currently curating behind-the-scenes content for that specifically. Our music content, acoustic sessions, are not going anywhere. We’ll continue to keep our weekly release schedule going at 4 nights a week free of charge.
PH: What’s next for SugarShack Sessions?
Eddie Kopp: We’ve got a lot of exciting things on the horizon here at Sugarshack. First, I’m currently working on moving out of the Shack so we can convert the house into a destination recording studio/artist retreat. A place for artist to spend time at after their session, or fly in to make a record in the beautiful space. Second, we’re working on taking the concept on the road, doing live sessions across the country in front of live audiences and creating incredible experiences for both our artists and our fans. Lastly, we’re going to keep pushing the channel, keep booking artists of all genres, and continue to bring live music to your living room(or wherever you watch Sugarshack) for the whole family to enjoy week after week.
Sugarshack Founder, Director & Editor, Eddie Kopp, is a musician at heart with a passion for all things filmmaking. His core vision with growing the Sugarshack brand has always been to create community, bringing people together through music and other artistic avenues. With a military background, he knows how to stay motivated and thrive in a leadership position. He also knows the importance of having his entire Sugarshack team and is grateful for the people they inspire and collaborate with along the way.