Hi, I’m Randy, owner of Main Street Music. I’ve been putting together a whole mess of blogs about all aspects of music. Today, I’m going to help you beef up your YouTube channel! Another blog to check out is Promoting Your Music.
Why you as a musician, artist, blogger, etc. need a YouTube channel is obvious, it’s one of the most viewed sites out there today.
YouTube came out when I was a freshman in college. I remember when I was a kid in the 90’s, I was excited when CD-ROM encyclopedia’s had video clips on them, and even then they’d be only about a minute. Now you can upload entire feature length films to YouTube as well as partner with them to monetize your content.
Before we get into the getting paid part, let’s talk about content. Sure, Google has tips about YouTube, but in my experience, it’s not as cut and dry as they make it out to be. There are some simple things to do;
Pick A Main Subject
There are plenty of YouTube channels out there, that just repost things. It will help with views, but could run into copyright claims, etc. Some copyright holders will allow you to share in their earnings, others won’t, so your best bet is to simply make your own unique videos.
For musicians, starting out with cover songs is obvious. If you’re a film producer, playing on already popular media (i.e. Star Wars) will help you get attention.
The first step is to decide what your channel is going to be about (mostly). Music, film, video blogging, politics, etc. That will be the main subject of your channel. On my channel, as you can see, I do mostly music. I am a multi genre, multi instrumentalist, so I’ve utilized playlists on my main page to make it easier to navigate for newcomers.
Playlists, for me, are key for getting real work in real life. When a potential client wants to know what I sound like I point them to my jazz playlist, which is now over 2+ hours long. Of course every now and then I shuffle the list around, especially when I add a new video. I’ve even made playlists of only live performances.
As my channel got more popular and had more views, I got better video software to make my videos look more professional. I often see poorly filmed or poorly sound recorded live performances on YouTube. When I use my good sound equipment and cameras, it really makes a big difference. It also shows more professionalism to potential clients.
This is an example of a recent video I produced of my trio playing “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” at a jazz jam in Southport, CT. As you can see, I’ve used panning and cutting to make the video more interesting.
Even if you’re just starting your channel, it’s a good idea to diversify what you do. For example, if you’re a musician, put up as many different genres as you can to reach a wider audience.
My channel, like my gigging, is mostly oriented towards jazz, but I also have original hip hop and RnB on the channel as well.
To further diversify, come up with projects other than the ones you normally do. For example, if you’re making short films, put up a music video or feature film. You can always simply vlog about current projects you’re working on or tips for others in your field.
When you’ve got a lot of videos up dealing with your main subject, deviate from it. The more diverse your channel is, the better. I frequently do side projects– for example, I’m working on a documentary of my up and coming jazz album. Another thing I really enjoy doing, is making fun of bad films in the style of the famous TV show, Mystery Science Theater 3000. Here is a preview of one of them.
Over the years, I’ve even added politics to my videos. The more content you have the better, and it’s even better to have diversified original content.
Before Google Plus, I would promote my videos on my personal Facebook page, as well as my Trio’s and production company’s Facebook page and other social media. Some people like to promote only one video, but I don’t do that because I think it gets monotonous. So, I promote not only the most current videos on social media, but 5-10 that I feel really stand out.
One of my most popular videos is my jazz rendition of Beauty and The Beast (Tale as Old as Time).
This video was put up for Valentines Day, and I expected it to get a few hundred views. Little did I know, it now has a few hundred thousand. Why exactly it worked well, I couldn’t really tell you; but I’m sure that using some of the footage from the original film helped, as well as incorporating my own style into the song. Admittedly, there are things I don’t like about this video, but as they say, art is never finished, it’s abandoned.
Other things I did to promote some videos was using viewing services like Virool. Let’s face it, that’s what the other channels do, so you should too.
If you haven’t started using Google Plus, you should. There are a multitude of communities on it that view content regularly. It has a much wider audience than Facebook groups, which tend to be regional. I’ve gained a few loyal viewers from Google Plus communities. They sometimes even share my posts.
Making Money Off YouTube
Monetization is available for those with an AdSense account. However, Google can be picky about content, so you may have to censor yourself a little bit. For example, I’ve always been a strong opponent of the War on Drugs. So, when Google saw I did a video about it and it broke their rules, they retracted my account. I had to self censor in order to restore it.
Other forms of money making can come when you distribute an album. For example, the release package on CD Baby includes adding the tracks you release to YouTube. They will collect the earnings for you. This is my most recent album, “Jazzmas”, a jazz Christmas album. This is not my channel, but a topic made about me and the album.
I hope this will help everyone rethink and re-evaluate what they do on YouTube.