The Piano Guys, a Utah group featuring cellist Steven Sharp Nelson and pianist Jon Schmidt, have signed to Sony Masterworks on the back of their YouTube success. Their YouTube channel has amassed more than 750,000 subscribers, and their music videos – which usually fuse pop songs and classical influences – have collectively been viewed more than 130m times.

The Salt Lake City-based Nelson spoke to The Strad in July last year, when Sony released the debut album by 2Cellos (Croatian cellists Stjepan Hauser and Luka Sulic),  having signed them up for a six-album deal after just one YouTube hit video. At the time, Nelson said: 'Musicians are making a lot more money on their own from YouTube than the record labels have ever been able to do with musicians. The overheads are so low, and you can sell tracks directly through your own website and through iTunes.' He even suggested that it is easier for a string player to make a living through YouTube than it is with a record label.

But in a video announcing news of the Sony album to fans, Nelson seemingly acknowledged the power of the record label when it comes to securing radio play and more international opportunities. 'Sony Masterworks is going to be able to take our music to more places that we could have ever taken it,' he said.

In the last year the group's videos have become increasingly more ambitious in scale. In 'Peponi (Paradise)', an African-styled version of Coldplay's 'Paradise', a grand piano was hoisted by helicopter on to a 1,000-foot clifftop. And in 'Code Name Vivaldi', which blends Vivaldi with music from the The Bourne Identity soundtrack, Nelson and Schmidt end the video playing on a flatcar on a high-speed train.

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