The following guest post comes from Brandon Martinez, founder of Indmusic (youtube.com/indmusic), a YouTube Multi-Channel Network (MCN) for unsigned and independent musicians and labels.
Ever since Indmusic led the way in monetizing the recent “Harlem Shake” meme, there has been incessant talk about how musicians can make money on YouTube. First off, anyone can make money on their videos these days; however, it’s easy to screw things up.
There are countless companies out there ready to take your money to “help” you. Many of the ones that know YouTube don’t know a thing about the music industry. And the music companies often don’t even begin to understand YouTube.
Then there are those that want to give you the one-button YouTube solution. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy; at least, it’s not that easy to do it right. You need to build a strategy around your channel and your content. There are companies that can provide assistance and make deeper tools available to you, but, ultimately, you need to control how your music is consumed by the world.
Below are five easily-resolved mistakes my team and I often hear from artists, like yourself.
“I only use YouTube to release my music videos.”
(1) YouTube is a secondary, tertiary, or more like septenary focus.
Most times when we’re talking to creators, they approach YouTube with a “set it and forget it” mentality. They upload their videos onto the platform (“set it”) and forget any strategy around how to amplify viewership.
You can absolutely build an audience with new music videos, but there are countless ways to help increase views. Your keywords, metadata, and release strategy all play a large role in discovery. Don’t tag things you think will get you views, only relevant keywords. And use every space! Fill in as many sections of the metadata as you can: album title, song title, ISRC, UPC, etc.
When you finally get through the upload process, tell people about it! Tweet it, post it on Facebook, share it with your Circles on Google+, and send it to any blogs or journalists who’ve written about you in the past.
“Vimeo has a much more artist-centric community.”
(2) Artists underestimate the power of the audience on YouTube.
Not only does YouTube have an enormous and rabid community, but they have a fan base incredibly eager to discover new content of all kinds, especially new material from talented musicians. Think of YouTube as the modern-day equivalent to CBGB, Troubadour, the Fillmore, or the Roxy, except potential fans are behind a screen at any given moment instead of hanging around by the bar.
And, who knows, maybe there’s a young, longhaired Rick Rubin looking to lay down some bass on your punk band’s new single. Remember that YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world and people want to discover your music.
“Once I put my videos up on YouTube, I’m done right?”
(3) Creators often take a stand back approach to their own content.
Not even close. YouTube has kindly built tools that enable you, the creator, to engage further with your fans, such as playlists, annotations, and an InVideo Avatar. Use them! It’s likely once you’ve posted your video or gotten some blog love that people will click Play and watch. Once you’ve gotten their attention for 3 to 4 minutes on your video, it’s partially up to you what happens next.
If the viewer likes what they’ve seen or heard, it’s likely they’ll want to check out more. By placing your videos inside of a curated playlist, videos will automatically roll from one to the next. Provide annotations so there are options for additional content watching. An InVideo Avatar is one of many great ways to build subscribers.
Also, YouTube favors organic views. Take the time building your audience. In the long run, it’ll be much more valuable than those who buy their views.
“I don’t create enough videos to make my channel interesting to others.”
(4) Musicians especially think they suffer from content famine.
There are many other ways to build an audience than posting new videos. When you favorite and comment on other videos, whether covers of your songs or other videos you like, you’re participating in the community. These actions show up in your feed, the same as when you post new videos. It’s a way for your fans to get to know your personality and interact with you.
It’s also possible that you’ll find additional artists that may want to collaborate.
“I don’t want to claim any of my videos; I hate ads on YouTube!”
(5) Artists don’t treat YouTube like they’d treat a distributor or publisher in terms of licensing rights and monetization.
Claiming your content isn’t just about monetization. It’s also about protecting and owning your rights on the platform. You also have the option to track and block your content. Yes, money from your art is nice, but protecting your art is important because if you don’t, someone else is bound to try and claim it themselves.
If you don’t claim your rights on YouTube, you leave yourself vulnerable to someone else fraudulently taking advantage of this oversight, perhaps even illegally. That’s not money lost, that’s money claimed by the wrong parties. The same goes for you: if you don’t own one hundred percent of the rights in your content, don’t claim it.