Now that the latest YouTube changes are in effect and every musician can have a channel that resembles those of the hallowed ‘Partner Channels’, it is time for every musician to create a channel and to post all their music to it.
And I don’t really want to debate it.
We touched on this in the last post and I don’t have a great deal more to say as justification, but I’ll try.
Most of this view comes from working for major label or independent label clients with a good level of global and online recognition already. However, we also recommend this for DIY musicians, including those starting from scratch, as all our experience to date shows that it builds fanbase quickly and with strong engagement.
YouTube is the largest Streaming Music Site
This is the number one reason.
Huge numbers of people now turn to YouTube as the ‘de facto’ place to LISTEN to a track or an artist that they’ve heard about. Forget that it’s a video sharing site; for your purposes it’s actually just a music sharing site, your own personal radio station with no battle to get playlisted or even to get a solitary play.
The music industry as a whole (which we battle daily with our signed clients) still don’t get this…. Our preference when working with a client like that is to release the whole of an album before the official release date by putting up what people call ‘Statics’ – generally a sleeve image with the audio running behind, but sometimes people are a little more creative with simple imagery (Note: this is NOT a full promo video – it’s just a way to let people hear the songs).
We meet a lot of resistance from labels on this approach, fearful of two things – firstly, piracy and secondly that letting people hear the whole record will stop them buying it as they will have nothing new to hear on release.
We think both reasons are stupid.
At worst, people get to hear the record and decide not to buy it – but then you’ve failed in your first job of making a great record and your second of finding an audience. On the other hand, by making a great record and letting everyone hear it via YouTube you’re allowing people to discover your music very easily.
Yes, some people will steal it and it will find it’s way on to Torrents, but, in the end, that’s a good thing as it means people are interested enough to want to get hold of your music. And….those that take it for free were never going to buy it, but they might come to a show or buy a T-shirt. Stop worrying about the piracy issue.
So, have a look at Bruno Mars YouTube channel here. I don’t care what you think of his music – that’s irrelevant. What matters is that his label put most (not all, but their behaviour is encouraging for a major label) of his recent album on his channel before release. His album went in the Billboard 100 at Number 2.
YouTube is the 2nd biggest Search Engine
If you’ve been smart and put all your music on your YouTube channel in some form you can now take advantage of YouTube’s second biggest artist friendly feature – people use it as a primary search engine for music!
That means that they will actively decide to go to YouTube and then search for music.
As that’s the case, surely you’d be stupid (2nd time I’ve suggested that already!) NOT to have your music there? Ready to be discovered.
Whilst all your mates and their bands run around worrying about how Spotify and R’dio are killing their careers (that they don’t yet, nor ever will have) and stealing from artists by paying peanuts for streams, just get your head down and learn how to master YouTube.
Start by getting all your music on there so you come up in those searches!
It’s all about Subscribers
There are things to learn about how best to title your clips and what tags to use – and the Guide from YouTube below is going to help with that – a lot.
We’re learning all the time too and the one key factor that people always fail to grasp is that YouTube is just like Facebook and Twitter in many ways – yes it’s a music streaming and video sharing site, but it’s also a social network. And that is a crucial thing to keep in mind. You can follow (in this case ‘subscribe’) to channels and you can like and comment and so on. Building your subscriber numbers is, in fact, the holy grail.
You see, when you have a significant number of subscribers, they see all your activity in their feed when they log in to their YouTube account. And that means that when you upload a new song, they will most likely go and check it out instantly which in turn bumps up your view count. That then makes you appear in more searches and perhaps on various YouTube section front pages or perhaps even as a recommended channel.
By the way, although posting videos is THE way to build fanbase, your subscribers will see all your activity, so you can make playlists of other people’s videos (bands that inspire you, songs you wish you wrote, worst trousers in rock, stupidest dance videos) and that will give your subscribers a reason to visit your channel (you can now add webcam introductions to playlists too allowing you to add a quick direct to camera reason as to why you’ve made that playlist). The comments you leave on other videos or channels will also show up in your feed to subscribers and there are creative uses that can be made of that.
Only those that actively grow their subscribers will get that added attention – and that then turns into a snowball of fanbase growth.
One more thing about building subscribers – the most successful YouTube channels stick to a reliable and consistent schedule of posting new content. Nearly every musician fails at this. When I suggest posting all of your forthcoming album, do NOT do that all in one go. Post one track a week for twelve weeks leading up to release making it clear that is what is going to happen and that subscribers will see that first (and hear the tracks!).
Add some regular BTS (‘behind the scenes’) episodes and some live footage or whatever you can think of that you think your fans will like and don’t ever stop. Train your fans to expect regular video and they will be ready and waiting.
YouTube Musician Playbook
We’ve learnt a lot from a lot of different sources (and we’d love to put it all in a course for DIY musicians – time allowing!) but the starting point is this free guide from YouTube themselves.
It’s awesome and if you read it and apply it you will be light years ahead of most musicians. This guide is free and written by YouTube themselves and compiled from all their data from what works for musicians of all levels of success. Get it from the horse’s mouth!
Don’t ignore this. I think this is the best and most important tip on this whole site to date!
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