If you’re a solo artist or in a band and you don’t have a YouTube channel yet, you’re missing out on one of the best ways to build a fanbase! You might not know this, but YouTube is the single biggest platform for streaming music online.
You’ll become part of a huge community of other creatives and artists and you will be able to engage with your audience directly, getting valuable feedback and building fan loyalty. It’s also completely free to join, leaving you free to put your money where it matters most, the music.
It’s so important for independent artists to have high visibility on social media and in 2020 the place to be for music is YouTube!
Step 1: Brand
The first step after creating the channel itself is to begin branding. If you have an existing logo, use that as your channel profile image and if you have an existing website, try and replicate the same style in your channel banner.
If not, now is the time to establish your brand. Create a logo and channel banner (sometimes called channel art) that is in line with your musical style. You want people to have an idea of your sound before they even hear a note!
Step 2: Plan
Everyone from the MTV generation onwards knows what an official music video is. They can be almost mini-movies that take the viewer on a journey through your music track and sometimes they can even pull in millions of views on the way.
While we recommend giving some of your singles the ‘official’ music video treatment, these videos can take a long time to make and can be expensive to create. So in between, plan to create a variety of other content to keep your fans engaged with your channel.
Create lyric videos, acoustic sessions, vlogs or cover versions of popular songs. Try and plan to release at least one piece of new video content a week to feed the beast!
Step 3: Create
Don’t worry about posting highly polished, professional video content from the start. Audiences can be forgiving of average quality videos so long as they are entertained. And everyone has a phone in their pocket so there’s no excuse! Whip it out and hit record now!
Keep a couple of things in mind though. Remember your branding, maybe filming in your mom’s dining room isn’t the look you want to go for. Think about your location, and make sure it reflects your style. Also, music is a medium of sound, so you want to make sure your audio is as good as possible!
Step 4: Edit
Spend a little bit of time learning basic video editing. As we’ve said before, you don’t need to aim for Hollywood perfection, but knowing how to string some clips together will help immensely. YouTube itself is a great place to learn with hundreds of hours of tutorials for every program you can imagine.
Step 5: Upload
You want to make your videos as interesting as possible for your target audience. For your ‘official’ music videos, title them with your or your band’s name and the song title followed by (Official) but for your other videos, think about what might tempt people to click.
An intriguing thumbnail and title combination might make someone stop and want to find out more. You don’t even have to worry about hiring a designer, there are some amazing YouTube thumbnail makers that let you easily create your own quality designs.
Step 6: Optimize
YouTube search and discovery is powered by a sophisticated AI that is so smart it will one day take over the world. Okay maybe not, but it is very good at finding popular content and serving it up to the appropriate audience.
How does it know what’s popular? One way is it measures how long people spend on a channel watching different content, so we want to make our audience stick around!
A couple of ways to do this are first, adding an end card or end screen to your videos. These give your audience an option to click on another video of yours or subscribe to your channel, both helpful to your growth on the platform! Another way is to create playlists of similar content, for example, all the blogs you post, so the next video in the series is automatically teed up for your viewer to keep watching.
Step 7: Publish
Now it’s time to hit that publish button. Make sure and include relevant tags and have that thumbnail/title combo worked out in advance. Think about a potential viewer’s search intent. Are they looking for a particular genre of music or a mood that the music might invoke?
Include keywords that might relate to their search intent in your video titles and try to come up with ones that might intrigue or entice someone to click.
Step 8: Promote
Your YouTube channel is set up and you have content live. Now you need to get the word out.
Over time, you’ll see more and more success as the algorithm identifies likely viewers and serves your content up to them, but until then, make sure and leverage all other digital avenues available to you. Check out our article on promoting your music on the web to see some of the options available.
Don’t forget to also update your bio/about me page to include your story, talk about your journey as an artist, and the influences on your work. Include links to your website and other social channels like Facebook and Instagram in your bio and in all your video descriptions.
Step 9: Engage
YouTube is an incredible place to grow a community around you and your work. Make sure and engage with your audience by replying to the comments section. This little bit of love will go a long way to turning viewers into fans.
Also, use the community tab, poll your audience, find out what content they would like you to produce and what they like and don’t like about your videos so far. Use their insight to help you plan and adapt the content that you create for your channel.
Step 10: Collaborate
There are thousands of other artists on YouTube, why not take the opportunity to reach out and do some collaborations. Interview each other, perform together, cover each other’s songs. The main thing is you want to create opportunities for their audience to discover you and in return, you let them have access to your audience.
When you can turn competitors into collaborators, everyone wins! Find any opportunity to trade audiences with other musicians and your fanbase will grow!
Step 11: Upgrade
Once you have released an official album to YouTube and have uploaded at least 3 videos, you’re eligible to upgrade to an Official Artist Channel. This upgrade comes with a host of valuable features including official music playlists and a discography shelf on your homepage.
Becoming an official artist gives you greater control over how your music is viewed and used by others on the platform as well as giving you increased options for exposure and money-making, what’s not to love?!
So there you have it. An 11 step process that will take your channel from brand new to an official home for your music.
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- 8 Tips for Promoting Your Music on the Web
- How to Release Your Songs On All Online Platforms