Put all Your Music on YouTube!

youtube-playbook-music-guideNow 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.

Case closed.

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.

But, you can learn a vast amount from wandering around the net and finding some YouTube experts to listen to – these two sites are invaluable: Reel SEO and VidiSEO.

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

youtube-music-guideWe’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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Ian Clifford is the owner of Illicit Media, a music management and consulting company. He is also the owner of Make It In Music, an online site that is the ultimate resource for aspiring musicians offering advice, tips, and insight on all the skills needed by modern artists to succeed in the rapidly changing music industry.

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Mike Baker - April 4, 2013 Reply

Another great post – thanks. If you’re game for a follow-up, how about a quick intro to best practices for community building on YouTube? I think I’m probably speaking for quite a few readers when I say that it seems like a different place than FB or Twitter, and somewhat impenetrable as a social network.

Also, any updates on when YT is going to allow users to customize their channel banners? Chomping at the bit to put a Topspin widget up there…

    Ian - April 4, 2013 Reply

    Hi Mike

    We will definitely be doing more posts on YouTube and specifically how to build a following there. When time allows!

    All users will get the new ‘Channel Art’ banner in the next few weeks, but, unlike the current/old channel header, it does NOT allow full customisation. However – you will be able to link to your site (or a page on it with your Topspin widget embedded) from that new banner.

    Read more about that here – http://www.makeitinmusic.com/youtube-channel-diy-musician/


Friday Roundup April 5, 2013 « unveilmusic.comunveilmusic.com - April 5, 2013 Reply

[…] MakeItInMusic – Put all Your Music on YouTube! […]

Dan De Santis - August 11, 2013 Reply

I love posting my music to Youtube. I always get feedback which is nice.

zanele - September 2, 2013 Reply

I love singing.

Michael Stuart Martel - October 13, 2013 Reply

I’ve been planning on putting my entire 1st album on Youtube for a while, haven’t done it yet though, as I haven’t properly released it yet (I’ve taken way too long – years – to get the album art and such all prepared) and want to be able to link people to where they can purchase if they so please right from the get-go.
That being said, it’s instrumental (solo piano) and many of the tracks segue one to the next. I was planning on uploading it all as one video, with a visual tracklist that acts as a set of annotation links to skip between tracks.
So basically, my question (to absolutely anyone with an opinion on this) is should I forego what may be some benefits of if I were to upload the tracks individually as a playlist (more videos = more views, better search results, etc.) and go ahead with the single video idea (I do think people may appreciate the convenience – I often see unofficial videos of some Youtuber’s video series put together as a single video)?
And should I skip the waiting until I have the album all ready / on sale online and just go ahead and make/upload said video(s)?

(One bonus question that would probably be harder to answer without specifics about my music: What on earth should I do for album art? o.o I’m not much of a visual art person, so I’ve been struggling with this.)

Thanks for this helpful article, and thank you to anyone who reads this and a special thank you to anyone who responds!

– Michael Stuart Martel, pianist/composer

    Ian - October 14, 2013 Reply


    I love this question as we are spending a HUGE amount of our time at the moment building subscriber fanbases and view counts for clients ion YouTube.

    I would do all of these options.

    Put up the tracks as ‘statics’ – i.e. the art as a static image with the track playing – with one for each track – see what we do here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jlwku6e7AhE. Note the intro we have had made and how we have a button for people to ‘subscribe’ to the channel at the end of the video.

    I’d also make an album sampler as you describe. Again, that’s exactly what we do. See here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QS8OVsCeg34.

    I’d then make a playlist of all the tracks and add ‘intro videos where you can introduce the parts of the playlist – Google that if you’re not sure what I mean. And I’d consider doing a few videos where you talk about the album as well.

    Lastly, yes, once the individual videos have been up a while (a month or two) I would consider making a segued whole album video. It can do no harm.

    Each of these uploads gives you cause to talk to your fans and spread the word about each new video through a website and social media.

    The best approach would be to have the album ready and the art and to have a website, Facebook page and Twitter all up and running and then start to post the videos to the YouTube channel.

    For art, try 99Designs or Fiverr. Or your local colleges.


Ant - March 9, 2015 Reply

Uh yeah….if you’re Bruno Mars and have a following of millions sure it’s worth
putting your music on youtube cause even if only 10% actually pay to listen to it
he’s made some good money. Irrespective of the quality of the music there are many
musicians that don’t get the exposure and heavily rely on the smaller group of
people that get to hear and like the music an artist puts out. My music was released
independently and I made a few physical copies available on Amazon which have now
been sold. Yet there are a bunch of different companies now selling it on
marketplace!!!! One was selling the cd for 60$. I got in touch and they removed it
within a day without responding. Are they making illegal copies?
One guy said “Oh is your album on spotify or bandcamp……yeah? ok well i’ll get it there!”
Then I found my cd on piratebay and a japanese website with loads of free downloads.
A lot of us are recording artists and unlike Aerosmith, are not necessarily
performers.I’m not interested in big bucks otherwise I would have taken a different route into music.
This woman recently asked “why haven’t you made another music album?”
Whether it’s stupid or not I don’t even have a choice about the music being on
youtube as it’s been ‘officially’ uploaded there too!!!!!

    Ian - March 9, 2015 Reply

    Hi Ant

    Seems like you’re a perfect candidate for building a very direct relationship with your audience with a website and a mailing list.

    If people are seeking out your previous album and it’s priced at $60 (I imagine it’s remainder stock rather than bootlegs) then you KNOW you have music that people want to buy. Make it so that they can buy it from your direct.

    On the other hand, if you were the only person who had physical CDs (i.e. if you manufactured them and never sold any to a distributor) then you can get these sellers stopped.

    If you never signed your recordings to a label, then it cannot be on YouTube ‘officially’. If you haven’t licensed your rights to a third party, then only you can upload it to YouTube ‘officially’. If it has been uploaded by members of the public and you own it, you can get it taken down or you can monetise it through their copyright matching system.

    Bandcamp is for selling direct from artists or labels to the public. Again, if your music is on there and you didn’t put it there, you can get it taken down.

    You have all the power to control where you music that you have retained the rights to is on sale.

    On the original point, I am saying that putting music on YouTube leads to discovery and if you then lead people to places that they can buy, you can make money from all your music being on YouTube.

    Reply to this and give us some links so we can see where your music is and I can then help you out with some more insight.

    Also, let me know if you signed the rights to a third party or still own them all.


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