Youtube, owned by Google, is without a doubt one of the most powerful social media tool with over a whopping 1.5 billion monthly users. If utilized correctly, the video platform can be a way unknown musician can grow an international following from the comfort of their own home.
But with it’s ever changing algorithm and layers of levels, it can be daunting for up and coming musicians to even know where to begin.
Another factor to put into consideration is figuring out which content will grow an audience, considering you write your own material and want to stay away the world of covers.
In this article, I will be addressing the tips and tricks I have learned from years of knowing full-time Youtubers and seeing how the platform works within the music industry.
Disclaimer: To prevent this article from being dated as time goes on I am going to share the fundamentals of building a channel and stray away from specific numbers or rules and regulations. Any updates to the platform can be read here: https://youtube-creators.googleblog.com/
#1 Find your niche
This is important as the world of Youtube is oversaturated with millions of individuals wanting to grow their channel.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What’s your genre of music?
- Who listens to that genre?
- What is their age group/hobbies/interests?
Minus your own personal analytics, these factors will help you decide what content you’ll push. Whether it’s a vlog series, collaborations with beauty Youtubers, or live performance videos.
Knowing what your niche audience looks like will also help you out when it comes to promoting your videos. For example: If you are indie rock artist who loves tattoos, start vlogging your tattoo adventures and collaborating with different tattoo channels. Traffic from this collaboration will discover your music and will most likely be within your target audience.
#2 Understand how the system works
The system is complicated. But here are a couple simple things you should know:
- There are multiple “levels” of Youtubers, from average users to the various different kind of paid partnerships
- You have to have x amount of views before you can start making money off of ads on your channel
- You have to have x amount of subscribers before you can join a Youtube Space near you
- Youtube will penalize you if your videos stop getting a lot of views.
For example: If your first video got 10,000 views, and your next 2 vlogs got 900, it will see that you aren’t as relevant and it will be harder for the algorithm to work in your favour. How Youtubers get around this is by “testing” out different types of videos. If covers aren’t working for them but original songs are, they will ditch the covers and focus on their own material. This goes the other way around as well.
SOMETHING IMPORTANT TO KNOW! Youtube is more strict on their algorithm now to prevent non-active users from going viral. They use it as a “reward” system for those who are committed to growing their channel. The more frequently you upload, the more likely your videos are going to show up when people look for videos. Otherwise the 1 video you uploaded last year will most likely not be seen by any new potential fans. The average upload rate for successful Youtubers is two times a week. Make sure you have specific upload days picked (e.g. Wed/Sun) so fans can expect an upload from you.
#3 Join the official Youtube Space!
Youtube’s Tokyo Creator Space
There are 10 Youtube Spaces located around the world. These spaces offer classes and free gear + studios creators can book for their videos.
There is a minimum amount of subscribers you need to be a part of the Youtube Space, but most of the classes are available to those who don’t have many subscribers. Look into a space near you to see if you qualify: https://www.youtube.com/yt/space/
#4 Ads are not the only way Youtubers make income
If you check the description, most videos by established channels are sponsored by a specific company or product. But don’t think you are too small to begin collaborating with companies within your niche.
Find a smaller brand that you believe in and take it from there. They may not be able to pay you, but if you get a free tuner out of it and shout out their company in your latest guitar solo video, bigger companies will see that you are familiar with these types of features.
#5 Be prepared to fail your first 100 videos
Like the music industry, an “overnight success” story almost never happens. I have sat in so many workshops with some of the biggest channels and their story is all the same. They made hundreds of videos before their channel started really growing. Don’t get discouraged but also play smart to grow!
#6 Stay true to you!
It can be easy to fall into the trap of jumping on trends in hopes that you’ll get more views. As a professional musician, it’s important to keep it about the music and not distract people from what you actually trying to promote.
Think of your channel as a way people can get to know you more. Use it to extend your brand and collaborate with new businesses. It can be both personal and professional if done right, all you need is the right plan and time.