5 Self-Destructive Statements Artists Make About YouTube…

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.    

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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.

24 Responses

  1. Visitor

    I was looking for solid info about your company but couldn’t find any.
    So why don’t you tell us exactly what it is you do…
    1) Exactly what’s in it for me as an independent artist, in dollars & cents?
    2) Exactly what’s in it for you, percent/fee-wise?
    3) Any gotcha’s we might as well hear right away?

    • Jon Baltz

      1) As far as dollars and cents, YouTube revenue rates can vary from channel to channel based on the type of audience, engagement, and many other factors. It is entirely possible for a video with more views to generate less revenue than other videos with fewer views.
      2) We never charge any of our partners a fee, we work strictly on a revenue share model that for most of our channels means our cut is 10%
      3) No gotcha’s. You always have access to analytics showing the amount of revenue your videos are generating and you receive a monthly report showing how your videos are being used by others and how much revenue is generated.
      We can be reached at contact@indmusicnetwork.com and will be happy to answer any and all questions you might have.
      Jon Baltz
      VP/Co-Founder of INDMUSIC

      • Visitor

        Thank you, Jon.
        Your cut is 10%, but I still don’t have any idea what I would get in return.
        Do you for instance guarantee that my YouTube channels will generate at least 11% more money — from which you then take 10% — if I use your service?

        • Jon Baltz

          Because of the nature of how YouTube does their payments, we don’t make guarantees, but I will say that we have never seen a partner make less money.
          Some of our label partners have seen their YouTube revenue increase 300%.

          • Visitor

            “Some of our label partners have seen their YouTube revenue increase 300%.”
            Thank you again.
            What’s the average increase?

      • JamesRL

        Do artists relinquish any ownership or reposting rights by going with your company? Do you have a noncompete clause the restricts going with other similar companies or video services?

  2. Gotcha Grabber

    OK. So what makes INDMUSIC different from services say…Audiam?

    • Visitor

      Audiam doesn’t take any cut from your own channels.
      That’s a huge difference.

      • Visitor

        …and Audiam lets you monetize other people’s use of your music.

        So Audiam appears to be the winner here.

        • Visitor

          Every YouTube network will monetize other people’s uses of your music. Audiam is not unique in doing that. Companies have literally been doing it for years.

          • Visitor

            OK, I wasn’t aware of that.
            But Audiam still seems to be a better deal than Indmusic as it doesn’t take any cut from your own channels.

          • Visitor

            Takes 25% cut from things that aren’t your channels though. I guess it all depends if your music is involved in a meme. Harlem Shake is a pretty good example of that.

  3. VS

    Audiam is just like tunecore without any stores. likely to start arguing with people and generally getting on their nerves.

  4. Visitor

    You paid to make a video and you are going to give it to YouTube (Google)?!
    Why not upload it to your official website (you do have an official .com site, no?) and build traffic to it?
    Your webmaster should have explained all this to you. About how you don’t give away content, about how you have to build traffic to your site, about how it has to be the center of all online operations for your business.
    What? You don’t have a webmaster?
    Yes, why would you need one. You take “advice” from people like Brandon Martinez…
    I guess it’s better this way. If all morons listen to this “advice”, there is more room left for the rest of us to make our sites stronger.

    • Visitor

      “You paid to make a video and you are going to give it to YouTube (Google)?!Why not upload it to your official website”
      You are aware that YouTube pays you for your videos, yes?

      • Visitor

        Google pays you pennies to keep all the traffic on YouTube and you are so clueless that you think it is a good deal.
        Talk to your webmaster. Ask him why noone likes Google Analytics compared to log analysis…

        • Visitor

          “Google pays you pennies”
          Or a lot of money if you make music videos people like…

          • clueless "gurus" 2.0

            If you make a video that is so popular that YouTube would pay proper money for it, then you would be an idiot not to have it excusively on your official .com site – because then you would be approached by much better alternatives than Google’s ad network…

          • All The Money

            Why stop there? Keep all the money to yourself! Start your ad network, and start your own ISP, generate your own electricty, and make your own servers with chips produced in your own fab.

          • Visitor

            “If you make a video that is so popular that YouTube would pay proper money for it, then you would be an idiot not to have it excusively on your official .com site”
            That’s just silly, nobody gets a billion clicks except YouTube…
            Don’t hide your stuff, show it.

  5. IP Ninja

    That is such a 2005 comment! How the heck will anyone find your music on your own website? Do you think that you have better SEO than Youtube? They are owned by Google!
    Artists should spend their time connecting directly with their fans – That means maintaining social networks like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube (yes Youtube is a social network!). Your own website is so 2005. Do you actually think that fans go to an artists website before they hit up their social networks? Is you artist website optimized for mobile better than Facebook?
    It’s time to get with the new millenium! Do they even call them “Webmasters” anymore?
    Selling $1 singles on iTunes is a thing of the past. No one under 25 can even grasp the concept of paying for music, and there is no going back on that. If you want to make it as a musician you need to use every distribution tool possible so that everyone can listen to and discover your music. Youtube provides a platform that allows your fans and potential fans to listen to your music for free, while giving you the opportunity to make money every time they listen.
    If your music becomes a hit, it will do so because you first released it on free platforms like YouTube. You might sell a few singles to some old folks on iTunes, but for the most part you will make your money touring and licensing your music to movies and TV. You will then see secondary revenue from Youtube and paid streaming services like Spotify. And let’s not forget that if your music ends up on the radio, there are big payoffs from ASCAP and BMI for performance royalties (assuming you write your own music)
    And as for those that are grumbling about how much of a cut a YouTube MCN is going to take…. Get over it! Most of you will be lucky to get tens of thousands of views on your video, which equates to a few hundred dollars at best. Do you really have the time and expertise to figure it all out yourselves? – Whether you give up 10% or 20% you’re arguing about a couple of hundred bucks – You’re getting free expertise from people that have invested $Millions to learn how to maximize your earnings.
    So it’s time to stop thinking about how much an MCN it taking from you, and start thinking about how much value of what you are getting from them for virtually nothing.
    Sorry for the rant, but after 20 years in the music business, I am so bored of artists complaining about how everyone is getting a cut of their music – Time is money, and when “WE”, as in any organization that risks their time and capital to help an artist become famous, we expect to get compensated fairly.
    When you’ve had your hit, and made yourself famous, you can negotiate a better deal – at which point there will be enough money to make it worth while for everyone to sit at the table. Until then, be glad that you have the use of Youtube – the largest, most SEO friendly world wide digital distribution platform to deliver your music to your fans. And there just happens to be a few people out there (MCNs) that will help you do an even better job if you give them a small cut of your very small pie!
    No, I don’t work for YouTube or Indmusic. Yes, I do work for an MCN on YouTube.

  6. stevegordon

    Learn how to start, promote and monetize a YouTube channel for your music or your business.

  7. GGG

    Number 1 Self-Destructive Statement People Make About YouTube:
    My music is great! Everyone will love this! I should put it online for the world to see! I’m the next pop superstar!

  8. Visitor

    Number 1 Self-Destructive Statement Music Start-Ups Make in DigitalMusicNews:
    “Thank you very much, we enjoy the free advertising but we’re not going to tell your readers what we have to offer.
    Keep them guessing, is our motto.
    Feed them spam & weasel words, and they’ll come back for more.”