A decade of love and music, Tiffany Alvord has been a singer on YouTube for 10 years now and is as incredible as ever. At 25 years old, Alvord has created a strong fan base with over 3.1 million subscribers on YouTube alone. From creating her own music to covering the songs of other artists, Alvord is set on making her mark in the music world. In this interview, Alvord talks about the world of music she lives in and what’s coming next.
Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Tiffany Alvord, and I was born and raised in California. Growing up, I was a gymnast and I loved performing in local musicals. I’m a singer-songwriter, and I have loved writing songs ever since I was a young girl. I started my YouTube channel in 2008! YouTube has opened up a world of opportunities for me. Along with singing and performing, I also love to act! I have six brothers who are my biggest fans! My mom is my manager, and we call her Momager Cherie. My fans are called Tiffanatics!
Recently you celebrated 10 years of posting on YouTube. How has that journey been?
YES! Wow, it has been such an incredible journey! I started posting videos of myself singing in my bedroom when I was 15. I had NO idea what was in store for me with YouTube. I just loved to sing and wanted to share my music through this new platform. Now, YouTube has become a staple in social media and in reaching and connecting with the world!! With the support and love of my fans, I’ve had so many amazing opportunities. I’ve been able to post music videos for 10 years, travel and perform, as well as partner with brands I love! It’s been cool to see how the digital age of music keeps unfolding. Each day is a surprise and a gift!
How have you grown on YouTube?
I’ve literally grown up on YouTube which is so fun!! I used to be very shy and awkward in my first videos and I had the HARDEST time talking in videos because I’d get so nervous. Over the years, I’ve found myself, my confidence, my style, and really grown into who I am! I learned that you need to ignore haters and follow your heart. My goal is to always stay true to myself and to be authentic.
What inspires you to sing and write music?
I started writing songs when I was 10, and I was always drawn to it! It was and is so much fun to compose music and write lyrics. I think what inspires me most is the fact I get to connect with others through music. I love writing about things I go through, dream about, or see and hear in everyday life. I love that music is such a universal language. For example, I could try to explain something to someone but they might not ever get it, but if I write a song about it, they can FEEL it. So knowing that my pain can help someone through a hard time or that my joy and happiness can make someone happy inspires me SO much!
How would you describe your music?
It’s very pop and fresh. I would compare it to a lot of the fun vibes that are on the radio right now, but with my own Tiffany twist on it, of course! I’ve got an acoustic song, a ballad, and some that you’ll just wanna blast in the car with friends while you’re driving! 😊 It’s like an ice cream with sprinkles that you can’t resist!!
I love that music is such a universal language.
You seem to cover a variety of different artists. What is your favorite thing about covering songs?
My favorite thing about covering different artists is that I’m able to really listen to a song and put my take on it. I get to reinvent something and make it special and mean something to me. I get to pull from my emotions, and I might connect to it in a totally different way than the original. I think it’s so fun because I can turn it into something slow and vibey or upbeat and light. There are no right answers, and I get to go with the flow with what I feel will best express what I got from the song.
How do you break the mold of a YouTube cover artist to developing your own sound through original music?
Before I ever started YouTube, I was always writing original music! Covers were a way to get my channel noticed and to reach a new audience. Covers are how new fans find me. Early on, my strategy was to post popular cover songs and then throw in an original song. I wanted my fans to know I was different, that I was also a singer-songwriter. This was easy to do when I was playing acoustic guitar in my bedroom. It is harder now that my original songs are studio produced to put them on my channel as often as I’d like. It used to bother me that I was known as a cover artist, but covers still reflect who I am as an artist since I always put my own twist and style on them. Covers are a good way to keep momentum and engagement on my channel, and it is easy to release my own version of a song that already exists, while I’m in the process of working on my own songs. Over the years, my fans have come to understand my passion for writing and releasing my own music.
What have you learned about yourself since you started writing and singing original music?
I’ve learned that life takes you in all different directions. I never know what I’ll go through or what song I’ll write tomorrow, so it’s always a surprise. It’s always creative and exciting making something out of an idea. I have learned that as I write, I learn about myself. It’s kinda like a journal, and through songwriting I can love, share, express, vent, appreciate, and feel things that confirm my story. It’s a way of being honest and showing the world that story.
Who are your musical inspirations?
Growing up I remember listening to Spice Girls, Backstreet Boys, Ricky Martin, and Sheryl Crow. As I got older, Taylor Swift, Sam Smith, Sara Bareilles, Maroon 5, Aly & AJ, and Colbie Caillat were huge influences! I feel like my influences today are from new artists that I love! For example, I love what Charlie Puth, Lauv, Julia Michaels, and Selena Gomez are doing!
YouTube has been a major part of your life for over ten years. What has it taught you?
It’s taught me that hard work pays off, and that hard work creates new opportunities! “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” It’s also opened a world of friendship and community. I’ve learned that one door opens another, and you just have to put yourself out there. Do the most with what you have. Aka if a little kodak camera is all you have, USE IT. Start with where you are and can now and go from there! You start out small and have to be patient as you build your audience and your brand. Everything is a stepping stone and a learning experience. It is important to learn from your experiences. (Experience is the best teacher!)
Do you see yourself doing YouTube in another 10 years? How do you see YouTube changing in the coming years?
I see myself doing YouTube for as long as it makes sense and as long as it’s still around! Life goes by so quickly, so it’s pretty fun to look back on videos and see where I was at 10 years ago, or what was happening, and to think things will change that much again in the next 10 years. I think YouTube has changed SO MUCH in the last 10 years, too, so it’s exciting to see how it evolves! I hope it continues to be an amazing platform for those that use it, new and old!
What made you want to post on YouTube the first time? What was your first video and what reaction did you get from your friends, family, and online?
I was 15 years old, and I had been watching some other people on YouTube sing. After watching for awhile, I thought, “Hey, I like to sing too, might as well give it a shot!” My first video was “Bubbly” by Colbie Caillat, and I had my brother press record for me. When I was about to start, he told me not to smile because I looked stupid, so the whole video looks like someone is forcing me to sing and like I’m not having a good time, but I swear I loved it, haha!! I told my friends and some of them shared it around, and I remember after about 2 weeks it had 300 views, and it was SOO exciting to me! Everyone starts somewhere. As my fan base grew, I knew my Tiffanatics had my back. My family and friends thought it was so cool and have always been so supportive! I’m so grateful for that!!
How would you say your music style has changed since starting back in 2008?
Back in 2008, all I had was my voice and my guitar. I will always love acoustic simplicity, though. I think the biggest change is progressing into studio produced music and having fun with more current sounds. It is fun to mix acoustic and produced sounds. I used to have a more singer-songwriter/country-pop sound and now it’s a bit more mainstream upbeat pop! I love experimenting with sounds, especially when I’m creating my own music that I’m passionate about!
Were there challenges that you had to overcome to get to where you are today?
I think one of the biggest challenges for me has been doing everything as an independent artist. It’s a blessing because I can choose what I wear, what I sing, who I am, and what I want to put out in the world. I don’t have to fit anyone’s mold of what they think will “sell.” But it’s also really hard because I’ve had to build my own team. I’ve had some bad experiences, but I’ve learned from them. I am just a normal girl like anyone else. Starting out, I didn’t have any connections. My manager and I have just always had to figure it out! It’s been a long process of finding people I trust and who truly have my best interest at heart and finding those who believe in what I’m doing! It’s part of the journey and I love that the right people seem to come into the picture at the right time! My growth always seems to come when I’m ready for it.
Can you recall your first time performing in front of a crowd? What was it like?
I remember it clearly as I was beyond nervous! It was for a benefit concert. It was me and a few other YouTube musicians. I was so nauseous, replaying all the songs and lyrics in my head. I thought to myself, “Maybe singing isn’t for me,” because I was so nervous. I went on and I still had the nerves, but when I was done there was this rush and adrenaline that’s hard to explain. It was a love/hate relationship, but I slowly learned to love the high of performing and the nerves eventually faded. I still get nervous, but more like butterflies! It was exhilarating to be able to sing my songs to a live audience and see their reactions in real life. After performing on YouTube for so long, it’s refreshing to know that all those subscribers are real people!
You’ve been on tour to many different places, like Southeast Asia, to perform! What venue and city is your dream place to perform?
Yes, touring has been so incredible! One of my dream places to perform would be Madison Square Garden or Staples Center because I’ve watched so many of my favorite artists there! As far as cities or places, I’d love to perform in Hong Kong, Netherlands, Sweden, Scotland, Brazil (AND ANYWHERE MY FANS ARE)!
If you weren’t singing what would you be doing?
If I wasn’t singing, I always thought I’d be a gymnastics coach. I did gymnastics for nine years and always thought that would be fun! I also thought it’d be cool to learn hair and makeup and be a cosmetologist.
What is something you want to share with those who also aspire to be in the music industry?
If you have something to say and you are passionate about what you’re doing, then DO IT! Chase your dreams. Don’t doubt yourself. Maybe your song will touch and change someone’s life forever! Be consistent, and don’t let closed doors determine your success. When you do what you LOVE people will see that on your face and feel your passion. You can’t fake authenticity—so be you!!
Can we expect anything new coming soon?
I’ve been part of the Hollister 2018 Swim Squad which has been a blast. I had the opportunity to travel to Hawaii and Mexico this year for photoshoots. I saw a poster of me in a Hollister store. That was surreal. There will be more swim photos coming to finish out the summer line! I’m starting an online advice column on my website where fans can submit questions, problems, concerns and I’ll respond and interact with them. It’s called, “Ask Anny.” My goal is to be a role model and to inspire others for good, and this is one way I feel I can reach out and be in touch on a personal level. The biggest news is that my new mini-album will be out very soon. I’m super excited to release new original music!
Lastly, what advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell myself to let go, step out of my comfort zone, and be more bold in making decisions and trying new things! Whether that’s with music/styles, life, or adventures. I think sometimes I hold myself back by doubting what I am capable of. I would tell myself that it’s okay to not know all the answers and to accept change and different seasons of life. It isn’t something you need to worry or stress over. I would also tell myself to ENJOY every step of the way a little more because everything constantly changes and each day is beautiful.
STORY CRISTINA POWERS
PHOTOS NATHAN TECSON