Youtube For Musicians: The Advanced Guide!

Youtube For Musicians: The Advanced Guide!

Youtube for musicians the ultimate step by step guideSo I’m sure you know Youtube can be a powerful tool for getting your music out there. Furthermore, you’ve probably already read a few ‘how to’ type guides on the subject, and have a good base knowledge of how the site works. But how do you go from gradually building up your subscriber and view counts, to new people finding and subscribing to you by the bucket load? Well, that’s what I’m going to share with you today. 🙂

Below are a a few tips that will help grow your Youtube channel a lot faster than before. If they’re useful, please share them with your fellow musicians.

The ultimate guide to Youtube marketing for musicians is now on @musicthinktank! – Tweet This

Get On Established Channels & Reach More Subscribers!

This is one of those strategies that can get your video thousands of views, even if your Youtube channel only currently has 1 subscriber (hi mum)! How is this possible I hear you ask?! Well, let me tell you:

Instead of adding your new video or song to your own channel, add it to someone else’s! A channel that’s already a big name in your genre, and one which has at least a few thousand subscriber who are all into the kind of music you make.

Now I know some of you may be wondering why anyone would want to upload your video on their channel. There’s a simple reason for this; these channel owners usually aren’t musicians themselves. They often fall into one of two categories:

  1. Fans of the music, or
  2. Video makers / industry reporters.

Their channels are there to showcase music that they enjoy, or acts that will make their channel bigger. You get in front of an established audience, and they get more free content for their channel; it’s win win for both of you!

There are many Youtube channels out there that will accept your music. Some will require you to have a video already made, others will be willing to work with you to make a video (some times this is a paid service but can be well worth it). Some channels will even allow you to simply send a song without video, and they’ll add a screen capture or other image to accompany it.

If you’re already knowledgeable about your genre, you may have already come across these channels. If there are channels which tend to have videos or music from various different artists, then there’s a chance you can get your music on there too.

A good way to find these channels is by searching the name of various musicians who make similar music to you. Don’t go for the big super stars as they’ll have access to channels which you may not be able to appear on. Instead search the mid level and smaller artists, as this usually works best.

On the search results screen, have a look at all the different channels who have uploaded videos from this artist. If you see they’re all on the same channel, move on to the next name. But if there’s a few different channels, have a look at each. See if they have songs from multiple people, and if so you may have found one.

Next look at their subscriber count. You’ll probably want to approach channels with a few thousand people if you’re giving them a full video you’ve already made, but if it’s just a song they require, then it may still be worth submitting it to channels with less subscribers. After all, all channels with a reasonably bigger subscriber number then you is worth getting exposure on.

I’ve written more on this Youtube strategy before (opens in a new window), so check that out if the above isn’t enough to get you started and you want more details. Otherwise, let’s move on.

Gain More Fan By Doing Cover Songs…

Cover songs are another great way of getting yourself in front of a lot of new people fast. If you don’t already know how cover songs can add to your fanbase in relatively short amounts of time, let me explain.

If there’s a new song coming out by a big musician in your genre, chances are there’s going to be a big marketing budget behind it. Or at least a reasonable one. Once the marketing is in full flow and their video is playing on TV and song rotating on radio, fans of this musician will start searching on Youtube to watch it in their own time. This is where you come in.

By creating your own version of the song, unless there are a lot of other cover versions already out there, there’s a fair chance you’ll start appearing in the search results when that song is searched for. And once their fans finish watching the official video, a percentage of them will go on to watch your version of the song too. If they like it, that will lead to more subscribes for you.

So how much of the song should you keep the same as the original? Well if you’re a singer, you’ll want to keep the same lyrics and backing track. If you’re a rapper however, you’ll only want to use the same backing track and add your own lyrics to them. This is for credibility reasons, as well as the fact that you’ll want to showcase your personal lyrical content. For singers, it’s more about showcasing their voice and range.

As well as this, you’ll want to use things related to the original in the Youtube tags section, and title your song similarly. So say the song is called ‘I Love You’ by Bob Green, you’ll want to title your video something like ‘I Love You By Bob Green, *Your Name* Cover Version’. This will make your video appear more relevant to the original, and increases the chances you’ll show up next to them in search results.

One important thing to note about this strategy is that you should only do it with musicians who target a similar audience to you; there’s no point covering a rock song if you’re a country singer. While you could still get new visitors to your channel, most of them won’t subscribe to you as the rest of your videos won’t be interesting to them.

Now before we go any further, I need to point something out. While this cover version strategy can be great for getting you new fans…

… Make Sure It’s Done Legally! Get A Synchronization (Sync) License!

Now the thing that a lot of musicians don’t know, is recording and uploading cover songs to Youtube without the permission of the owners is not really allowed. In fact, it’s technically illegal.

As well as it being illegal, it’s in Youtube’s terms of service that you can’t do this. And while many musicians do cover songs without the permission of the song owner and often get away with it, this is a risky practice. Doing so can not only potentially get your Youtube account banned, but you could also face legal action by the song owners.

Now in all honesty, most people who throw up cover songs on Youtube ‘get away with it’. It’s often not worth the time and effort for most musician or labels to chase you up with a law suit (unless you’re making decent money from it), as it often takes man hours away from the record label and could cost more money than it’s worth. On top of that, Youtube often employ a three strike policy where as your account won’t get banned right away if you’re found in violation of these TOS; instead you’ll get a first warning. Get two more then your account will get banned. There are exceptions to this rule which can get your account banned right away, but this is generally how they work.

That said, uploading cover songs without the correct license is still a risky business, so I suggest you do it the right way.

So what’s the right way? Well, you need to obtain a synchronization license, or sync license for short. This is basically permission from the song owner (or their record label) for you to sync their music to your video. The license usually allows you to upload it to Youtube, but not offer it for download. You also usually aren’t allowed to make money from it unless you agree to split it with the owner.

I’ve written more about synchronization licenses for Youtube cover songs already, so check that out if you want to learn how to get one.

Get More Of Your Youtube Videos Seen Using Tags

While the above strategies focus on getting more people finding your music for the first time, this last one helps you get more video views once one of your videos is found. What you want to do is make sure as much of your other videos appear on the ‘related videos’ section, both in the right hand sidebar of the Youtube site, and also after your video has stopped playing.

One way to increase the chances of this happening is by using a few tags that are largely unique to you. For example, let’s say your music name is Doreen Greeney. What you should do is add your name and a couple of other similar tags to all your videos. For example, you may add:

  • Doreen Greeney
  • DoreenGreeney

What this does is make your videos more relevant to each other, and increases the chances that they will show up as related videos instead of other people’s videos (which essentially takes eyes away from what you’re offering).

If you have a name that a lot of people have, you may instead want to add a few random tags. Literally make up a few words and add them to each video. You won’t want to add too many of these tags as you still want to include relevant tags which people could search for. But to make more of your videos appear together, this is a strategy you might want to try out.

Taking Advantage Of Other Social Site Too

The above are just a few of the ways you can take advantage of Youtube that a lot of musicians overlook. It’s too easy to do a quick Google search and see the same obvious advice about promoting your music on Youtube and other social sites. That said, there are often better ways to increase your fanbase faster and more effectively than most musicians do.

I regularly post a mix of beginner and more advanced strategies for musicians on my site, so be sure to check it out and subscribe to get all the latest and best advice. Not only do I talk about social media marketing, but I also cover other tips that most musicians find helpful too.

Before I go, are there any other Youtube strategies you’ve found that work really well? If so please leave them in the comments below for all to see.

Shaun Letang,
Music Industry How To.
Music Think Tank contributor.

Youtube For Musicians: The Advanced Guide!

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Reader Comments (1)

You’re right about the synch license in theory, but YouTube has negotiated with the NMPA for permission to use the songs within their catalog for a share of advertising revenue in lieu of royalties. NMPA represents a lot of music publishers, but not all. Content ID (the YouTube copyright ‘bot) will run the digital fingerprint of your video within minutes of it being uploaded and compare it to its database. If it is in violation, the video will come down almost immediately and you will get a warning email.

It is proceed at your own risk, but uploading cover tunes is much easier than it used to be.


February 24 | Unregistered CommenterBand Grrl

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