For bands, Youtube is one of the great mysteries of the music industry. It’s a sort of white whale that has so rarely been properly taken advantage and which seems to bee by and large ignored, misused or not appropriately respected for the potential it brings to the table. When it comes down to it though, Youtube is essentially the most durable and most massive social network out there and it seems to be impacting culture on a level that none of their peers can compare too. This is a really impressive and really weird thing that we are all sort of forgetting. We need to start thinking about it in a more diplomatic and effective way if we want to take advantage of what Youtube can really do and the opportunities for monetization that it offers – because though they may seem limited they are definitely out there and they can be a nice little boost to the whole struggle that is growth in the underground music world.
Youtube remains probably the most important and biggest music streaming resource. Even though Youtube Music hasn’t really rolled out properly, they are working on it, there are smart fucking people working there – it’s going to rise up. Most people, even those who have Spotify Premium or Apple Music, use Youtube for music streaming at least somewhat regularly. And guess what – it’s easier to get your music onto Youtube than it is to get it on Spotify. This all being said, a ton of bands don’t have their shit up on there because it doesn’t feel ‘legit’ or ‘we don’t get paid’. Do you realize how silly you sound? This is just another place to monetize and sure the pay is shitty but at least its something, it’s another place for people to find your music and if you do it properly then maybe something will go viral, because y’know, things can actually go viral organically on Youtube as opposed to Spotify or other traditional streaming services. People forget this.
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There’s a lot of pressure I think to have a proper Youtube content strategy, to go toe to toe with someone like Metallica who adorn their page with all sorts of hi res live videos and other goodies. Hell – even a lot of labels have really well put together and padded out Youtube pages that seem to generate a lot of interest. Odds are you don’t have all the tools to put together a really badass set of content for Youtube The thing is – as I’ve been explaining, you don’t actually need to do that. You literally just need to upload your record with the album cover and the tracks set up in a playlist and people will dig it. There’s no need to overcomplicate it. Even if you don’t have a music video, this is a jumping off point. Hell – even if you decide to upload your record through a Youtube influencer in your genre, which is a GREAT way to get traction by the way, at least you’re on the platform. don’t fuck around – go for it and see what happens.
If you DO want to invest in creating cool Youtube content then congratulations – realize that you are tapping into a deep well of potential and that it doesn’t all need to be music videos (though having some sort of video for every piece of content you create is really important) You can do anything from uploading individual songs from live sets to making supercuts of your Instagram content. The only thing that I would encourage is to make sure that all your long form videos also go on Facebook. Facebook wants to be a major video player like Youtube for a variety of reasons which means they are pushing videos super hard in their algorithm and that will help to get you a ton of traction. There are also a ton of really cool tools online that can help you create good video content for cheap, like Rotor. Even little animated bits are fairly doable, or cheap to get sorted if you ask around.
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Assuming you start to make money at all through your Youtube page, be it through ads, or more likely, affiliate links, don’t put that money into the band pot, that’s just silly and going to waste your time. There probably isn’t going to be enough early on for it to be worth doing that anyway. What I would recommend is putting all your income, at least up to $100 a month, into advertisements for those Youtube videos in order to keep pushing eyeballs. Then you will gt a sort of recursive feedback loop with the new sets of views generating more money for ads. This of course isn’t going to be 100% efficient, but as you scrabble up the ranks you are going to be made much more likely to grow within the Youtube algorithm itself and that’s where you can start to find the serious traction that you want for long term success. I know that it’s another shitty circle jerk, but guess what, this is just how the music industry is, until finally, some day it actually pays off in a weird and depressing way.
Long story short – Youtube is a really important thing that I think a lot of people ignore because they don’t understand it and they don’t want to invest the time into properly understanding it. I really get it, it sucks to have another platform to learn, but it’s one that you are probably already using and one that has a massive userbase that is worldwide. It has fewer glass ceilings than Facebook or Instagram and I think that it’s going to start tapping into some next level shit in the next year or so. So dive in, check it out and learn more because when it comes down to it, this could make or break your band. At worst it’s another nifty little way to make money and grow your name – so what’s the worst that could happen? If you want to work here – close.