How to Absolutely, Positively Kill It on YouTube…

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The following guest post comes from music tech entrepreneur and self-professed ‘Soundcloud Addict’ Dan Polaske.  Connect with him at @dpolaske.


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In two years, Timeflies went from being nobodies to selling out shows across the country and blasting sexy music into eager ears everywhere.  How did they do it?

By killing it on YouTube.

Rob and Cal put all their eggs in the YouTube basket.  They started dropping a new video every week.  This weekly video, dubbed Timeflies Tuesday, is basically anything the guys are feeling.  Such as: freestyles, covers, original songs, music videos, and behind-the-scenes footage.  Their current YouTube numbers are seriously sexy… we are talking 284,000 subscribers and over 72,000,000 video views.

Are these guys child prodigies?  NO.  Screw rabbit holes, lets dive head first into this basket of eggs and see how they did it.

The first Timeflies Tuesday did nothing for me.  It was just an intro video, but it was quite terrible.  See for yourself:

The second Timeflies Tuesday also sucked.

This second video got me a little more excited than the first, but it still wasn’t great. It just wasn’t sticky enough to make me wanna tune in the next week.  They continued to release videos for 7 more weeks, with basically zero success.  That’s 2 whole months worth of work, with nothing to show for it.  They finally broke their dry spell on the 8th video.

*These early videos have high view counts now, but when they were first released the view counts were microscopic.

Check it!

This is the video that turned me on to Timeflies.  It did not go crazy viral, but it did get them in the game.

They continued droppin’ fresh videos for the next 5 weeks.  Again, not really landing any haymakers, but still pushing.  Then their 14th video went viral!

It is still one of my favorite videos to date!

That’s it right? They went viral! So now they are super famous and can cashout… right?  Hell no!  That was only the beginning of their journey to YouTube awesomeness.  With videos like ‘Natty Beats’ and ‘Under the Sea’, they finally began to understand what really gets their fans going.

Next, Timeflies continued to give fans what they wanted with each weekly video release.  ‘Under the Sea’ got them an epic head start, but staying consistent is what really kept their fan base steadily growing.  Timeflies have released a video almost every week for over two years.


You are gonna suck at first

Timeflies sucked when they started.  Now they are kicking ass.  You are gonna suck when you start, and if you put in the time and effort hopefully you will kickass one day.  But get started now, because the sooner you do, the sooner you will stop sucking.  I’m serious!  Don’t wait and plan for the perfect first video.  Sit down, give yourself a reasonable deadline, and release something.

You will learn more from releasing a terrible video than you will from not releasing a video at all.

Be consistent

A weekly video release forces you to create a lot of content.  The more content you create, the better it will become.  You will improve your releases by learning each week what your fans like and dislike.  Also, by dropping new jams every week you will keep your fans engaged with you and your music.

Know your fans

Releasing weekly content to an engaged audience provides an artist with an epic feedback loop.  Do something crazy!  Release a ridiculous video, drop a really funky track and see what sticks.  Your goal should be to entertain, but also to build a deeper understanding of your fans.  Learn what your fans love and what they hate.  This will serve as a musical road map as your sound evolves.

Timeflies have a gang of YouTube groupies flocking to their shows across the country.  Their journey to YouTube stardom is by no means the only path.  However, they have laid out turn-by-turn directions to finding success in the video content game.

Spending loads of time and money on one or two videos you hope go viral may not be the best plan.  Could it work?  Sure!  A better plan is to take a page out of Timeflies playbook and build an audience on YouTube through patience and persistence.”


9 Responses

  1. TuneHunter

    It would be brilliant if they could opt for conversion to merchandise at 100K or 250K views.
    Normal, smoke free, income for Google and musicians.
    To make it close ecosystem Shazams and lyric ID guys would have to switch to buy only mode.

  2. Ari Herstand

    FANTASTIC! Great anecdote and great tips.

    Very similar story with Boyce Avenue. Also kill it on YouTube and sell out shows around the country.

  3. Anonymous

    Very, very sad, if this is what music has come to….come on guys this really does suck. It really really sucks at first and continues to suck in the end and worst of all they have thousands of followers, and Google continues to roll in the money….that about says it all for the disastrous state of music!

    • GGG

      You’re missing the point. Does it suck Google rapes people in royalties? Yes.

      Does it suck that people can make careers out of music without having to go through the gauntlet of A&R guys and suits and music execs, and instead just let the fans judge directly? No, it does not.

    • Romina Jones

      What both you and GGG say are true. It kind overall sucks that one has to be a dancing monkey now while Google makes all the serious change; at the same time, everybody can be a dancing monkey now. Good take away is persistence pays if you are going to go the YouTube route.

      • Minneapolis Musician

        I am not so sure that posting similar stuff for six months straight guarantees this success will happen to you, though.

        I still think it’s a roll of the dice, even if you are tenaciously persistent.

        • GGG

          Well, as always you need something people latch onto. These are two good looking dudes who use pretty dumb humor, so I’m guessing they attract 14 year old girls.

  4. James

    If this video series makes people happy and entertains then that’s all that matters. Laughter is the best medicine still to this day. Let ’em rap. Under The Sea is good. Shut up and play your guitar already. There’s plenty of great stuff by other people on Youtube if this doesn’t appeal.
    There’s loads of great singers out there. Go find them.