— by Amir Shoam
If you’ve recently heard the name Max Gottlieb, you are not the only ones. For the last month, the 19-year-old singer of Lower Merion has been performing several times a week in pubs and festivals around Philadelphia. “I stared performing at open-mic events, got bookings as music managers saw me, and so it rolled on,” he explained.
Gottlieb has been playing guitar for five years, and first started performing with the Lower Merion High School a-capella group, but his career has taken a big step forward during the last four months. While on an immersion gap-year program in Israel, he started uploading home-made videos of himself singing and playing to his YouTube channel, and has already gained over 120,000 views.
More after the jump.
“My friends did an amazing job in spreading the word about my videos,” he said. “You can never know which videos will succeed. Some of my videos have got over 27,000 views, and some merely got a few hundreds. YouTube proved to be a good way to build a fan base quickly.”
“I get inspiration from new sources all the time,” notes Gottlieb. “John Mayer has influenced my approach for guitar playing and I also love the Beatles. Among my newer influences are Jason Mraz, Ed Sheeran and Michael Buble.”
As part of the Aardvark gap year program, Gottlieb was living in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, gained academic credit with the American Jewish University, and participated in two-day trips to historic sites such as Masada, where he also recorded one of his most successful videos. In Passover, Gottlieb flew home for the holiday break and decided to stay. “I had achieved anything I wanted to with the program, and I felt that I was ready to get serious about my music. I am hoping to record my debut EP, with original songs that I wrote, soon,” he tells.
After posting a new video on YouTube in each of the last 18 weeks, Gottlieb has now decided to switch to every other week. “Now I want to create more visual videos, with several cameras, which require more work. It’s frustrating to work with low-tech equipment, and I felt that it was a bottleneck for my videos,” he said.
Next year, the singer will study psychology at Drexel University. “I am not going to stop making music, but I know it may take many years before I can finance myself solely by it,” he explained. “I love psychology. I enjoy understanding people on a deeper level and how the mind works, so that’s my back-up plan.”
“I am really excited of where I am now. It’s the beginning of many things for me,” Gottlieb concludes. “I get a lot of support from the local Jewish community. It may sound like a cliché, but we are all like one big family. It’s a great blessing for me to be part of the Jewish people.”
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