4 Essential Ways to Promote Your Band on YouTube According to an Agency Exec

4 Essential Ways to Promote Your Band on YouTube According to an Agency Exec

With more than a billion active users, Google-owned YouTube is, without a doubt, one of the best promotional tools bands can use to get the word out about their music.

Nielsen stats reveal that it’s the No. 1 source of online music consumption, beating out all other on-demand streaming services combined. And, according to Google, the platform featured some of the fastest-rising videos of all time last year. The top 10 music videos collectively have more than 66 million subscribers, and people spent more than the equivalent of 37,000 years playing them in 2015.

One of the best things about that audience of millions is that they love to engage, says Cory Wolff, the chief marketing officer at Dotted Music, a New York-based marketing agency targeted to musicians. Not only do users like and share, but they even create remixes, covers and video responses.

“The biggest reason for having a YouTube channel is building the artist/fan relationship,” Wolff says. “It’s a good way for fans to really get to know you and to feel involved in your music and in your career, whether you’re a solo artist or a band. It is an excellent way to grow your loyal following and to create what we like to call super fans.”

To reach those super fans, here are four ways to use YouTube to promote your band.

1. Create a music vlog

To grow your following and keep current fans interested, Wolff suggested focusing on creating compelling content.

“YouTube is just an extension of you as an artist, so it should be treated as such,” he says. “Take things that you would do in everyday life and mold them into videos, into content that you can use on YouTube. Not only will your channel be more engaging for your current fan base, it will help you find new fans.”

One easy way to do this is to create a video diary, aka vlog. Entries can be as simple as documenting the band playing a big show, filming a behind-the-scenes look while recording your new album, or even posting an interview conducted with the band. In addition to having a regular blog, musician Joy Ike has also posted videos such as “How To Make An Album” and “Joy Ike + Food for the Hungry,” which documents her trip to the Dominican Republic and efforts to fight poverty.

Wolff says humor in videos also get a great response from music fans. His client rapper Aayu kept his fans interested with a three-part video series featuring his dog – a music producer. “It was really effective,” Wolff says.

2. Do covers

Unless you’re a straight-up cover band, most musicians like to promote their own music rather than perform covers. But you might want to reconsider that when it comes to YouTube, according to Wolff.

“If you’re okay with doing cover videos, it’s a pretty strong tactic to build your subscribers and to get your views up,” he says. “Doing covers of another band’s popular song allows you to basically piggyback off their success.”

Wolff cites Postmodern Jukebox as a prime example. The channel first went viral with a cover of Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” and today has more than 1.7 million followers. The success has also enabled the channel’s artists to start playing gigs to thousands of fans around the country and abroad.

Doing covers on YouTube is great exposure for your band, but there are some copyright issues. If a copyright owner complains, YouTube could remove your video; after “three strikes” the platform could terminate your account. If you want to protect yourself completely, it’s worth it to explore proper licensing. Be sure to look for our upcoming article on what musicians need to know about copyright infringement on YouTube.

Other musicians have also had success when their covers went viral. In 2011, Air Force Staff Sgt. Angie Johnson’s cover of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” created so much buzz that she was able to perform on NBC’s “Ellen” and audition for “The Voice.” That viral hit also enabled her to raise the funds for an album.

3. Build partnerships

Another source of valuable content comes via partnerships. “Do a collaboration video with someone who has a bigger channel than you, perhaps with a local business that has a larger following,” Wolff says. “For example, go to the music shop in your neighborhood and ask to do some sort of review video at their shop to post on their channel.”

Offering to do gear reviews for various instrument and music brands can also lead to fruitful business relationships, as well as a way to beef up content offerings, he says.

“Brand partnerships should be part of the marketing mix and overall marketing strategy. They can lead to sponsorships and help the musician to cross promote, reaching an audience that they might not have had the chance to previously reach,” Wolff says. “For example, let’s say you review a new piece of gear from Peavey. People searching for that piece of gear will find your video. You can also reach out to Peavey and see if it’s something they want to share on their social media. When this happens, you reach Peavey’s audience and new people find you. This could then potentially turn into a sponsorship from them.”

4. Treat it like a business

While it can be fun creating YouTube videos, you’re not just doing it just for kicks. Treating your page like it’s a part of your business plan is vital for success. That means creating a production schedule for making those videos so that you have new material to post continually to your channel.

“Musicians really need to treat it just like it’s their own television channel, because it is,” Wolff says. “If you treat it like a business and you plan the videos out, create a production schedule and stick to it so you’re consistently putting out content on YouTube, you’ll be successful.”

Musicians really need to treat it just like it’s their own television channel, because it is.”

The No. 1 mistake musicians make, Wolff says, is an improperly set up YouTube channel. It’s important to make sure your channel is updated (links included) and is hooked up to other social networks like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. Tapping free tools like Google’s YouTube for Artists can also help build and measure your fan base.

“It all just boils down to making it as simple as possible for new fans and your current fans to really listen and learn more about you,” Wolff says.

Running it like a business also means that your page must be fully optimized. A good place to start is with channel art, including your cover photo. Use high-quality, professional images that aren’t blurry, cut off or pixilated. Knowing proper dimensions for images will help and YouTube has created a handy guide listing all size requirements. Since it’s the largest search engine outside of Google, Wolff also suggests tagging YouTube videos correctly.

“That way they show up in the search results,” he says. “You want to make sure that your description has those keywords that you want in it so if you’re a rock fan from Ontario, you will want to make sure that it says somewhere in your description and in your tags ‘rock band from Ontario.’ So then if somebody is looking for a rock band from Ontario, they’re going to find you. Also start tagging similar artists. So if you’re similar to Rob Zombie and tagged properly, maybe somebody searching for Rob Zombie will come across you.”


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