Why use YouTube to get more fans
Video has always been an important medium for music promotion. Music videos, documentaries, and concert films, have given fans a way to connect more deeply to the music, and the bands they hold so dear.
So it’s no surprise that YouTube has become a must-use social media platform for musicians.
But beyond just simply being a video platform, there are real tangible reasons why YouTube presents a great opportunity for you to find more fans.
1. YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine
SEO – or Search Engine Optimization – matters. You won’t become famous alone on the fact that people can find you in search engine results. But making sure you are easily found will make sure your existing fans can always find you without much effort, as well as making sure potential new fans can stumble upon your music when looking for something similar.
Google is without question the largest search engine, but believe it or not, YouTube is the second largest with over 3 billion searches being done every month. And more importantly, Music is the #1 most commonly searched topic. In fact, there are over 95 million people subscribed to YouTube’s general music channel.
2. People tend to go to YouTube first to find a song
For better or worse, YouTube has always had a plethora of music available to the masses – often times unofficial uploads of recorded songs. While YouTube has cracked down on this, and even introduced a new streaming service called YouTube Red, YouTube continues to be one of, if not the most common place that people go to first to find a song.
3. Your music might already be on there, best to upload to your own official channel
As mentioned above, much of the music added to YouTube unfortunately is uploaded unofficially by fans. This creates headaches of epic proportions when the time comes to properly record and collect royalties. Not to mention the damage it can do to your search results by having the potential of your views split across multiple versions of the video. You want all of those views on a single video to help it to prop up as high on the search results as possible. Make sure that you upload your music to your official channel.
Setting up your YouTube channel
The first thing you need to do on YouTube is make sure your channel is set up and optimized to drive traffic and subscribers. Here are a few things to consider:
Set your channel type to musician: there are a handful of different types of channels you can utilize. Make sure you set your channel type to ‘musician’ so that you benefit from the features YouTube offers. This will help you promote your band even further, such as the ability to post Tour Dates to your channel.
Upload a photo/logo: this is part of developing a consistent brand image. Making sure you upload a photo or logo to your channel will help fans recognize you on YouTube, as well as recognizing you on other channels.
The look and feel of the of the image you choose to represent you across your channels can play a big part in the subconscious emotional connection your fans make to you and your music, so choose wisely.
Upload custom background image: an extension of the above. Make sure that you set a custom background image to further develop the look and feel of your brand image which will help fans to create a visual association with you and your music.
Add links: You can include links both on your channel and in the description of your individual videos. Make sure your channel has links to your website, other social accounts, and where fans can buy your music. On your individual channels, I would suggest including a link to your website as well any direct links to purchase that individual song.
Add tags: Again, just like links, you can add tags to both your channel as well as your individual videos. Make sure the tags you use for your channel are specific to you – consider your location, genre, lyrical subject matter, etc.
Do not use tags such as ‘music’ as this is far too general to do you any good. The purpose of using a tag, similar to a hashtag on Twitter, is to help to aggregate your content into a specific topic so that people interested in that specific topic can more easily find your channel.
Also: you should look into getting an Official Artist Channel: check this article to see how you can upgrade your channel.
How to get more fans for your music on YouTube
Now that you have your channel set up, it’s time to start optimizing your individual content to make sure all of this effort helps to build your fan base:
Produce great videos
The obvious place to start is to make sure that above and beyond anything else, you need to actually produce great videos, otherwise all of the efforts to optimize search results will be a waste.
Here are some types of videos you’ll want to consider including in your channel, and always make sure video and audio quality are strong:
Official music videos: all of your official videos should be on your YouTube channel to make sure all of the possible views and fans are lead back to your own channel.
Lyrics videos: a great way to help fans to develop a stronger connection to your music.
Cover songs: very helpful in making you more accessible to new fans by showcasing music of other bands that influence you or inspire you.
Live videos: this one can be tricky as it can be very difficult to capture high quality footage and audio of live performances. But if you can nail this one down, it can be a great way to use YouTube to drive interest in your next tour.
Big announcements: your next album or tour announcement doesn’t need to be in the form of a letter. Use YouTube as a format for sharing important news; it’s more easily digestible, can be shared quicker, and can help you to generate real intrigue and demand around your news.
Interviews: yet another great way to develop a stronger connection to your fans. Give them the opportunity to get to know you a bit deeper through interview videos.
Create playlists: YouTube has a playlists feature that allows you to group together several videos. Using this feature can help you to keep fans around longer by giving them a suggestion for ‘what to watch next’. The longer fans stick around, the more likely they’ll be to develop an emotional connection, which is the first step towards establishing super fans (the fans most likely to pay to see you, buy your merch, your VIP offerings, etc.).
Optimize your videos to be found in search
Mentioned above but worth restating. You can optimize both your YouTube channel, and your individual videos to make sure all of the above are easily found in search results.
For your individual videos, in addition to the tagging mentioned above, make sure that your Title and Description are both clear and consistent across all videos on your channel.
Title: Your title should include the name of your band and the name of the song. If it’s a cover video, include the name of the artist you are covering as well. Whatever naming convention you use that you find works best, make sure you are consistent with all videos.
Description: While there is much more freedom with the video description to include things like lyrics, song meaning, etc. you’ll want to make sure you include the band name, song name, album name, and links to purchase.
Be consistent with posting videos
As is critical with all digital content, make sure you remain consistent with your content, in terms of frequency (i.e once a week – same time / day every week), and in terms of video / audio quality and naming as outlined above.
Always respond to comments and questions
This can be tough at times, given YouTube’s less than stellar reputation regarding those who comment on videos. But trolls aside, make sure you respond to all comments and questions of those who are clearly offering their input about you, your video, the lyrics, etc.
Every time a legitimate comment or question is left, it is a great opportunity for you to directly connect with, and build loyalty, from that individual fan.
Use YouTube ads to reach new fans
As we’ve discussed in countless other articles, advertising is not the enemy. Often the legitimate practice of advertising to reach new fans is confused with the illegitimate practice of paying for fans or views.
The former is simply paying to extend your visibility so that potential fans can then organically connect to your music and become a fan on their own time. The latter, however, is just a bogus numbers boost that doesn’t equate to an increase in real fans.
You can get started with an ad campaign on YouTube here.
Encourage your fans to subscribe on YouTube
And of course, in addition to paying to increase your visibility, there’s also the organic way to do it by simply asking your fans to subscribe to your YouTube page.
The reason to do so is that your subscribers will be notified when a new video is published to your page, helping to you to increase the potential views of each video you publish in the future.
Subscribe button on your Videos page on your website: the low hanging fruit really, make sure you include a subscribe button on the Videos page on your website, as well as in the Bio / description of all of your social accounts.
CTA (call-to-action) in your videos: In your videos, you can include a quick annotation (looks like a button or bubble) right on the video asking people to click to subscribe. You can also include a title card at the end of the video asking people to make sure to subscribe for more videos. The risk of only including the CTA at the end is that often times people don’t watch the video to the very end, so they may end up missing it.
Promote your channel on other social networks: self-promotion can’t be the only thing you do on your social accounts such as Facebook or Twitter, or you’ll never see progress. However, you can certainly sprinkle in some self-promotional content into your other high quality content, and this is a great opportunity to encourage your fans to subscribe to your YouTube channel.
This is a great start in getting you set up on YouTube, and getting new fans, but this certainly isn’t the end of the process. Building a fan base takes time; it is most certainly a marathon. Be consistent, always post great content, and your fan base will continue to grow over time.