He Has a Rarity in Music: A Steady Paycheck

Joe Shadid, who uses the name Joe George in his recording career, at the Reverb.com video studio in Chicago.

Joe Shadid, 30, is a music and content specialist for Reverb.com in Chicago.

What is Reverb.com, and what do you do there?

We’re an online marketplace where people buy and sell guitars, drums and other music gear.

I appear in our YouTube videos, demonstrating music instruments and gear, giving guitar lessons and discussing music theory. I also teach users how to replicate or change artists’ tones. In other videos, I interview musicians, usually about one of their songs or their gear. The music industry can be tough, and for a musician like me, this is a good way to earn a steady paycheck and stay close to my art.

When did you know you wanted to be a musician?

My brother and I loved music as kids. When I was about 9, we’d sneak across a busy road to buy albums at a music store on the other side. One night I was listening to “I’ve Just Seen a Face” way past my bedtime when a switch turned in my brain. I ran into my parents’ bedroom and asked for a guitar, and they told me to go to bed. Santa brought one that Christmas, and I’ve played it every day since.

How did you get this job?

In 2015, a family friend working here asked me to demonstrate a guitar pedal on a video. I was hesitant about appearing on YouTube until I realized what I could do. I love sharing, talking about and exploring the language of music. No one knows everything; there are endless things to discover.

Did you study music?

I attended Berklee College of Music but left before I finished when I had an opportunity to tour with the band I was playing with. I discussed it with a couple of professors I looked up to, who said: “You came here to prepare yourself for an opportunity like this. Go.” I felt like it was the right call.

How do you decide what goes in the videos?

Every month I meet with the content team, which runs like a newsroom. We map out our video plan based on artist birthdays, album anniversaries, holidays, bands that have resonated with viewers, audience suggestions and so forth.

What was a memorable moment?

A couple of years ago I was playing at a music hall in Chicago when a teenager approached me. He said he and his dad had lived in different cities for most of his life, but they had bonded learning to play guitar from my videos and playing together over Skype. I still get emotional thinking about it.

How has this job impacted your music career?

Last January, I was attending a trade show for Reverb when I saw Rex Brown, the bassist for the now-defunct band Pantera. He looked my way and pointed, and I glanced over my shoulder to see who he was looking at. It was me. He complimented me on my videos and called that night and asked me to join him on tour with his new band and record. Last September, I went to Europe with them, which was great fun. We’ll see how it goes.

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