The Piano Guys are an American musical group consisting of pianist Jon Schmidt, cellist Steven Sharp Nelson, videographer Paul Anderson, and music producer Al van der Beek. They gained popularity through YouTube, where in 2010 they began posting piano and cello compositions combining classical, contemporary, and rock and roll music, accompanied by professional-quality videos. In August 2016 the group surpassed one billion views on their YouTube channel, which at that time had nearly 5 million subscribers. Their first six major-label albums, The Piano Guys, The Piano Guys 2, A Family Christmas, Wonders, Uncharted, and Christmas Together each reached number one on the Billboard Classical Albums and New Age Albums charts.
The group originated as a social media strategy for Anderson's piano store, The Piano Guys, in St. George, Utah. Anderson was acquainted with Schmidt, a locally notable pianist who often came in to practice on the pianos when he was in town. In 2009 Anderson saw a music video that Schmidt had uploaded to YouTube, "Love Story Meets Viva la Vida" – a musical blend of the Taylor Swift country pop version and Coldplay's Baroque pop song "Viva la Vida", which Schmidt performed with Nelson on cello. That video logged more than one million hits. Anderson asked the musicians to do more videos that he would professionally film and upload to his store's Facebook and YouTube pages to promote his store. Nelson brought his neighbor, van der Beek, a songwriter and music arranger, onto the team. Tel Stewart initially assisted with video production.
While the first few videos did not make much of an impact, "Michael Meets Mozart" (2010) gained a respectable showing after Schmidt invited the nearly 30,000 people on his fan mailing list "to watch it and share it". In June 2011 the group won the "Most Up-and-Coming Channel" award in the YouTube "On the Rise" contest, which brought 25,000 new subscribers to their channel. In 2011 and 2012 the group uploaded a new music video every week to two weeks, attracting thousands of new viewers each time. Meanwhile, The Piano Guys store did not register any piano sales from two years of posting videos, and closed in March 2012.
By September 2012, The Piano Guys had uploaded more than 30 music videos which had garnered 134 million views, and had 757,000 subscribers on their YouTube channel. That month, they signed with Sony Masterworks. Rather than receive royalties on album sales, the group opted to split the profits with the label while financing their own music and marketing. After signing with Sony, they released their first album, The Piano Guys, followed by The Piano Guys 2 in 2013 and Wonders in 2014.
The Piano Guys tour in the United States and abroad. They have appeared in sold-out concerts in England, Germany, Hungary, Japan, and Russia. In 2015 they were on the road for three weeks at a time, but in 2016 decided to limit that to "10-day runs" to be more available to their families. They have also played at major classical and pop venues, including Carnegie Hall, Greek Theatre and the Royal Albert Hall.
Their decision to perform at the inauguration of Donald Trump in January 2017 elicited controversy. While other musical groups declined invitations to perform, the group denied that their performance was "an endorsement or a political statement". They explained on their blog: "We don't feel right limiting our positive message only to people that believe or act the same way we do".
At the inauguration's Liberty Ball, The Piano Guys played a custom rendition of Rachel Platten's "Fight Song" without consent from its original artist. This had been one of the songs used by Hillary Clinton during her presidential campaign. The Piano Guys later released a statement noting that their unscheduled rendition of the song was not meant to be political. On the 12 December 2017 did a live stream on their YouTube channel, called 'Light The World Christmas Concert with The Piano Guys and Friends'. On 25 Sep 2018, they performed their trademark classical renditions of today’s pop hits in Singapore. “We are so happy to be coming back to Singapore. We love the country and its wonderful people. Cannot wait to see our very special fans at the Star Theater.”