The other night, while browsing for new videos on YouTube, I discovered Peter Hollens. He did a cover of “Circle of Life” from The Lion King. It. Was. Incredible. The song features Tony Glausi and I just had to learn more about this guy. Peter has an amazing voice, and has a laundry list of cover songs on YouTube. I reached out via Twitter, we became fast friends, and I got the chance to spend some time with him learning more about his career. It is my pleasure to introduce you to Peter Hollens.
I found you the other night on YouTube. You were singing “Circle of Life.” It blew me away… Tell me more about your decision to cover that song and more about the video.
“Circle of Life” is my all time favorite Disney song, so it only seemed natural for me to create a cover of it! Generally speaking, I love everything Disney and appreciate the fact that their content is family friendly. I work hard to only produce uplifting, positive music that people of all ages can enjoy, so Disney and I align in that way. We filmed the music video in my town of Eugene, Oregon. We were hiking in the dark at 4 in the morning to capture those perfect sunrise shots… But it was worth it!
You also did a Disney medley. Do you need permission to cover these songs?
Proper licensing and permission for usage are important for every song that I release. I utilize Loudr for all of my licensing needs, they do phenomenal work, and are integrated with some of the best distributors out there so sometimes you can upload to just one distribution service like DistroKid and they do both because they are integrated w/ Loudr.
You have been singing a cappella since 1999. There are a lot of a cappella groups out there, but few do it well. Straight No Chaser comes to mind. To sing a cappella do you practice a lot or does it just come naturally?
Straight No Chaser is actually one of the groups that inspired me to co-found my collegiate a cappella group at the University of Oregon! Singing a cappella music is a bit different than singing other genres of music. I am classically trained as an opera singer, so it definitely did take some practice for me to adjust to the pop a cappella style. At this point though, since I have been doing it for so long, I have a pretty good grip on how to fake most genres to the point where people think I know what I’m doing.
Tell me more about your time at University of Oregon.
I studied vocal performance at the University of Oregon and as I mentioned, co-founded the university’s premier all-male a cappella group while I was there, fell in love with my wife Evynne Hollens and really found my voice and calling.
Your wife also sings a cappella. How did you guys meet?
Evynne and I met through our shared love of a cappella. She sang in the UO’s all-female a cappella group, DIVISI (the group Pitch Perfect is based off of).
You’ve had songs recorded for Sony and Epic Records. Do these record labels come to you, or are you out there pitching to them?
Yes, in both instances I was approached by them. I was actually signed with Sony Masterworks for some time… Which was an interesting experience to say the least.
Have you ever considered going on a show like The Voice or American Idol?
I was on NBC’s show The Sing-Off with my collegiate a cappella group, On The Rocks. Other than that though, I don’t have much interest in pursuing shows like The Voice and American Idol, because I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to nurture my singing career in other ways, and to be honest those shows usually do absolutely NOTHING for your career. I’d recommend staying away from them and the contracts they make you sign to be apart of them.
Who are some of your biggest inspirations?
I am so inspired by a lot of different people, especially entrepreneurs that are striving to make a living doing something they love. One of my favorite singers is Sara Bareilles, and her music is constantly on at our house. As well as my good friend Chad Lawson who is a phenomenal piano player.
You are active on YouTube. You have a bunch of videos and millions of views. Tell me more about your success on that network.
I began publishing my music on YouTube because I realized that it was the best way to get content to my audience. I publish a new music video on YouTube every other week, and have been able to foster a community on the platform that has accelerated my career in ways that I never would have imagined. My presence on YouTube has allowed me to work with some of my favorite artists and to collaborate with some of the biggest digital media influencers, which I am soooooo grateful for.
What are some new songs you are working on right now?
Currently, I am working on several projects and songs that my supporters have requested. I am putting together a Disney Villians Medley, a Harry Potter Medley, a Dear Evan Hansen Medley and even currently tracking on a Newsies Medley (yes I’m a huge Broadway fan.)
What’s next for Peter Hollens?
I am gearing up my brand to be a player in the online education world. I am extremely passionate about helping other people make a living in the digital sphere, and am excited to begin my online course, The Hollens Creator Academy, to teach people how they can do what I do. Through the experience I’ve gained over the past decade, I am excited to show creators how they can pursue their dreams and support themselves at the same time.
Connect with Peter Hollens: