YouTube is the most popular video outlet in the world, and as such, the free service is an integral part of any serious artist’s music marketing strategy. Ignore it at your own peril! Among all the categories of videos found on YouTube, music is far and away the most popular, accounting for nearly 31% of all videos played through the website. It has also become the prime destination for music discovery by teenagers, with The Wall Street Journal recently reporting that two-thirds of teens listen to music directly from YouTube, more often than other services such as Pandora, Spotify, and MOG.
YouTube allows you to share your content (musical and otherwise), provide background information around the content, and provide links and portals to help your fans reach more of what you have to offer on the web. YouTube is a key to modern band promotion, and is great tool to help you connect with your fans in a personal way, allowing you to showcase your material and communicate with your audience about the content they are most interested in.
As the digital music landscape continues to evolve, streaming services are emerging as the kings of music discovery and dissemination. Similar to the shift in television broadcasting that occurred as cable and satellite emerged to challenge the major networks, streaming services provide consumers with free or low-cost access to nearly all available music for as little as 30¢ a day. But unlike cable TV, you have no barriers to engaging your audience on this community service, and stand to gain fans and revenue in the process.
Let’s look at one of the most successful bands to leverage YouTube to build their fan base: Pomplamoose. Pomplamoose’s channel is a study in how to be a YouTube success, and leads to “I’ll Be There in a Minute,” a featured video that utilizes a number of winning strategies.
The duo enlisted their fans for the video, and fan energy helps propel the video through its various dance scenarios to the concluding scenes at a small live show. If a viewer lets the ad play through before the video, the band also gets a cut of the ad revenue.
Another YouTube phenomenon is Ronald Jenkees. He’s amassed more than a quarter of a million subscribers and 58 million page views. Notice how he includes obvious links to various levels of fan engagement, from something as simple as adding him as a Facebook contact to purchasing a signed copy of one of his CDs. His featured video (at the time we wrote this article) is a benefit track done in collaboration with STS9, introducing him to a wider audience and doing good for a charitable cause.
How to leverage YouTube
Assuming we’ve convinced you to make YouTube an important component of your music marketing strategy, how do you begin to leverage its potential into a plus for your career? Here are six key tips to keep in mind as you go about building your YouTube presence.
1. Provide your viewers with information
The people who discover your videos could already be fans, but they could also have absolutely no idea who you are. The proper information needs to be available to users so that they can become more familiar with your act. Check out Pomplamoose’s main YouTube channel page. Notice how they use the page to give a quick introduction into who they are, where they’re from, and myriad ways to dive deeper into their upbeat musical world. Providing relevant links, video descriptions, and additional detailed information provides your viewers with easy access to important data such as the location where they can buy your album or download or share your content with their own personal networks.
On “I’ll Be There in a Minute,” Pomplamoose posts the song lyrics and links to purchase a package of music or a USB drive with more songs. They also have a link to an iTunes buy page. Every piece of content you post can be another opportunity to share a link to your purchase page, whether it’s on BandCamp, CD Baby or elsewhere. If you simply upload a video, you’re missing the opportunity to take the viewer to the next level of engagement. While the video content is the main attraction on YouTube, be sure to give your viewers every chance they can get to go buy your album/merch, watch another video, or read more of your content.
2. Talk to your viewers, because they care (or might want to)
Engage with your viewers! Social media is a two way street, so if someone sends you a message or comments on your video, do your best to answer their questions, stir up a conversation, or thank them for the time they spent watching your videos. Back to Pomplamoose’s “I’ll Be There in a Minute,” the fans who appeared in the video certainly helped get the word out when it debuted, helping to get the video noticed through their own use of social networking. Having Pomplamoose’s fans featured in this video was a great opportunity for them to give back to their musical community while leveraging their reach and enthusiasm to build awareness of their music and YouTube channel.
While YouTube may seem overwhelmingly large and daunting, fans can post comments on any video and it’s up to you as the curator of your YouTube channel to keep the conversation going with anyone that takes an interest in your music. Ultimately, the more closely connected a fan feels to you as an artist, the more likely they are to watch that video again, post it to Facebook, tweet it, or share it in some other way.
3. Keep the content flowing!
The more engaging content you can post on your channel the better. This includes song videos, behind the scenes footage, tour diaries, etc. Give your fans a reason to stay involved in what you’re doing on your YouTube channel. Film a quick video of your band doing vocal warm ups before a gig, or saying hi to a crowd before you go out on stage! Here’s a short backstage video featuring the band Kiss that is part of their YouTube “Kissology” series, it’s perfect because it’s short, personal, and meaningful to their worldwide fan base.
If you have a merch table that you use after the gig, find a fan who is particularly engaged and ask them if they want to interview you for a 60-second video clip about that night’s gig to post on YouTube. This is the type of content that gives fans a reason to go to your YouTube channel, and it keeps them engaged in what you’re doing now. In addition to experimenting to see what types of new content your fans appreciate most, make the effort to keep your interactions real and sincere. A great example of this is the “making of” video for “I’ll Be There in a Minute.” In fact, Pomplamoose started a new channel just for these behind the scenes videos to give back to their fans.
4. Put yourself behind the eyes of a viewer
Be mindful of how fans and YouTubers are seeing your band’s presence on your channel. DIY bands hurrying to shovel more content onto their channel often overlook the basics. In addition to ensuring that your video and audio content is worth broadcasting, be sure the titles of your videos make sense and are informative (Band name/song title/ live performance venue/ etc.). Do your Tags make sense for each video? Are viewers able to get more info about this video if they need it?
Take a look at this Tour Diary and Live Performance video on Allen Stone’s YouTube channel. Not only is the title properly named, it also gives viewers insight as to who is featured in this performance and where it took place. This is a prime example of content that gives viewers an on stage and back stage perspective. While anyone will get a good feel for Allen’s sound and personality, those who attended the show are given a unique opportunity to re-connect with his performance. Lastly, Stone’s video provides links to information including film credit and two different platforms on which to purchase his album.
5. Promote your YouTube content on your other Social Channels
It may sound obvious to interlink your various digital media channels, but some bands forget to do this. Use your YouTube videos as content for blog and Facebook posts, tweets, and fodder on your other social channels. It gives you timely content to broadcast, and it drives views and traffic to your YouTube channel. Engage with fans by sending them a new song they’ve never heard before. If you decide to debut a new song on YouTube, decide on a release date and start promoting the release via all the forms of digital media you use. You can also try a video teaser on your other channels by excerpting a scene or two from a new YouTube release.
6. Customize you YouTube channel
Customize your channel to give your fans and guests a unique taste of who you are. Check out these tips.
Remember to always:
- Add performer info.
- Add links to descriptions where appropriate.
- Upload your three Album images with buy links to your purchase page. This can be used for anything, so be creative! Don’t forget that you can link to your merch.
Set your channel type to “Musician.” By changing this status within your “Settings,” you can add things like band member info and add “Events” for things like shows or new releases.
Tags. Use specific keywords as your tags for every video you post. The first tags you use are the most important, but also focus on what is relevant to your video (don’t mislead viewers).
Relevant misspellings are a good idea to include as well because your viewer may have heard someone mentioning the title to your song, but might not know how to spell it. Make it easy for them and include different spellings in your tags. Take time to come up with good descriptions, the first words in your description are what count the most, so make sure they are main terms like titles or band member names. Start each description with an important word out of your tags.
Category. Make sure your videos are set to the right category for a song (“Music”).
Title. You can include additional words in your video title to guide viewers to your video. In the Kiss example above, they decided to title the clip “Kiss – The Backstage (Funny Footage).” As we were writing this article, we actually found the clip by searching YouTube using “fun backstage video,” demonstrating how the words you associate with each video, be they in the title, keywords or tags, can make a critical difference in being discovered.
Making the most of your YouTube channel requires you to spend some time learning what is working for other bands and what works best for your audience. Be sure you speak with and listen to your fans using social media and YouTube, as they will help guide you to build a channel that is engaging and effective.
Computer user image via ShutterStock.com.
Keith Hatschek is a contributing writer for Echoes and directs the Music Management Program at University of the Pacific. He’s also written two music industry books, How to Get a Job in the Music Industry and The Golden Moment: Recording Secrets from the Pros.
Samantha Juneman is a Community Manager for Spring Creek Group IPG Media Brands. She also studies Digital Media at the University of Washington in the MCDM program. Sam enjoys playing the violin in a DIY band, Sledding With Tigers. Read her thoughts @Sammlar.