Let’s talk about YouTube.
We could talk about VidCon, which sold out 12,000 tickets a month in advance. We could also talk about the over-dramatized and sensationalized YouTube vs. indies misinformation war. However, it’s so much more constructive to focus on growing your audience, serving your audience and monetizing your audience. Not only is YouTube is the largest streaming music service in the world, it allows you to use video to connect directly with your fans in almost any way you can imagine.
I hear you: “But I’m on YouTube and I’m not getting any views!” Here are five of the most common reasons why your YouTube videos may be getting ignored:
You might be surprised to learn that the chart-topping duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis are not signed to a major label. Neither are veterans like Peter Gabriel and Wilco. They’re all self-releasing albums.
But if you self-release, you still need someone to get your name out there, get your product into the marketplace, and get it sold. In other words, you need someone to do all of the stuff record labels used to do. You could do it yourself — or you could hire someone like Kevin Wortis of Girlie Action, a leading music marketing agency based in New York.
"Here we offer sourcing, distribution, sales. We also handle marketing, digital marketing, social media, press and radio promotion," Wortis says. "We have clients that come in who have chosen not to be with a record company; they want to control all the revenue and they want to do things in their own way."
Girlie Action’s clients include Pretty Lights, Amanda Palmer, and The Crystal Method. The French recording label Naïve hired the agency to provide label services for Marianne Faithful’s last record. Girlie Action is now working on its third album for Meshell Ndegeocello.
It’s 2 p.m., the Friday before Christmas 2012, on the 21st floor of the Leo Burnett building in downtown Chicago. Young executives, creatives, admins, and interns are all packed into a large meeting room, giddy and restless; today is special. Canadian sister folk-pop duo Tegan and Sara step onto a foot-high stage and play three songs — including the first two singles from their seventh album, Heartthrob, which they will release the following month. The fluorescent lights stay on, the city’s skyline splayed out behind them. Afterward, nearly all of the 200-odd employees in attendance will stand in line, phone at the ready, to pose for pictures with the band, just like fans after any concert.
And Tegan and Sara, who eventually cracked the Top 20 with Heartthrob’s “Closer,” need to win over this audience just as they would at any concert. A track in the right commercial could bring about the kind of attention that magazine covers and radio play alone can no longer garner. Commercial placement, or a sync, has evidenced itself as the last unimpeded pathway to our ears — what was once considered to be the lowest form of selling out, of betraying fans and compromising principles, is now regarded as a crucial cornerstone of success. And as ads have become a lifeline for bands in recent years, the stigma of doing them has all but eroded. But with desperate bands flooding the market, the money at stake has dropped precipitously. Even the life raft has a hole in it.
“A tiny sliver of bands are doing well,” says the duo’s Sara Quin. “The rest of us are just middle class, looking for a way to break through that glass ceiling. The second ‘Closer’ got Top 40 radio play, we were involved in meetings with radio and marketing people who said, ‘The next step is getting a commercial.’ I can see why some bands might find that grotesque, but it’s part of the business now.”
Here’s a very interesting article from Matt Gielen of Frederator Studios discussing tips for creating “thumbnails that will be clicked.”
Thumbnails are the most important aspect of any video’s release, other than the content itself. Seriously. This is because thumbnails, in combination with titles, are often the biggest deciding factor in whether or not a person will click to watch a video.
Due to their overwhelming importance, we at Frederator have put together a guide for creating thumbnails that details the principles and tactics we use when crafting our own thumbnails. These are insights gained from conversations with creators, reading the YouTube Playbook, and countless experiments with various design types, all while measuring the click through rates and performance of our thumbnails through YouTube’s TrueView advertising.
Market segmentation involves breaking down a broad audience into a smaller subset of customers. You can divide along demographics (age, gender, ethnicity, etc.) and/or psychographics (values, lifestyles, interests, etc.). The more that you can segment a market by narrowing it down while still having an audience large enough to offset any investment, the better. Broad marketing is not only very expensive, but generally ineffective as well.
Example of Poor Segmentation (too broad):
I want to target the young (ages 12-25) Christian market in the Midwest.
The above example can be improved by narrowing and/or adding additional qualifiers. For example, this could be re-written to:
I want to target male Christians, ages 18-25, who live in the Midwest and are interested in bluegrass music.
Here are some guidelines on finding new markets based on segmentation:
As you (hopefully) know by now, Twitter is one of the best online marketing tools you can have in your band’s toolbox. It’s a free and simple way to communicate directly with your fans, but you’ve got to be strategic about when and how you use it to really make it an effective platform for fostering your fanbase. Here are nine strategies to make your Tweets count:
There’s a recent piece about a musician who has built a huge online following by simply focusing on those who care enough to interact with him online. I can’t find the article now but the theme of focusing on those who care, rather than amassing large numbers of likes and whatnot from those who are simply aware of your existence, is a recurring one that recently appeared in two tech posts featuring musical examples.
The piece I can’t find, though I think it came out in the last month, gets better and better in my mind. It was an amazing tale of a man who chose to release his music online, maybe via Facebook, and instead of promoting it he just began to chat with people who responded and from there built an enormous Facebook (or related social media) following that would simply astound you.
Or something similar. But I do know it was a strong example of a musician building a following by communicating directly on an ongoing and deeply engaged basis with the people who cared about his music enough to connect.
Here are the most important things to keep in mind when trying to setup a page for your band or music on Wikipedia:
Wikipedia stresses that the article or page must be from a neutral point of view. So although writing the page entry yourself might be the quickest way to get onto Wikipedia, chances are that it will get deleted very quickly for not being neutral.
A Wikipedia article is not meant to be a promotional page for your band, but an unbiased documentation of your band’s music and career. So it would be best to find someone who already contributes to Wikipedia to write the entry instead. This could very well be a fan or friend of the band, but make sure it’s not an obvious conflict of interest, which Wikipedia also frowns upon.
Information about your band or music must come from a verifiable source. So even if the information is factually true, Wikipedia insists that it must be verifiable before you can add it to the page.
If a friend is writing the entry for you, be sure to collect all links to reviews, articles, mentions and information online about your band. That way the person writing the entry can cite outside sources for information about your band so that it can be considered verifiable.
The next thing to keep in mind is that for any articles or sources that are cited on your Wikipedia page, they must come from reliable, independent, 3rd party sources. So it’s better if the author cites an article in the media, rather than the band’s website, or something the singer’s mom said on her personal blog.
In the past, money was a huge barrier for musicians, and one of the main reasons many were forced to tie themselves to a record label. Today, many musicians are finding their own ways to creatively fund their albums and tours, with the most popular option being crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is a huge undertaking, but, if done correctly, you can come out of it with a whole lot more than just money. It also presents dedicated and creative artists a chance to connect with their fans in a whole new way.
Learn how to run a successful crowdfunding campaign with these 5 tips:
1. It takes a crowd.
I think a lot of people mistake crowdfunding for an endless well of money, but, the sky is not the limit. The amount of money you can raise is entirely dependant on the size of your fan base – your crowd. Generally, the more fans you have the more money you will be able to raise, although there are other variables like fan dedication and income level. Amanda Palmer was able to raise upwards of a million because she has a huge, dedicated fanbase with spare cash to throw around. Pretty much the perfect scenario.
There’s no way to tell exactly how dedicated your fans are and how much money they would be willing to donate, but you can look at some figures to get a better idea. Look at how many people you have on your email list, how many people come to your shows, and how many people you have following you on social media. Don’t assume that every one of your fans will donate – even the most amazing musician in the world couldn’t accomplish that.
Social media is the cornerstone of your music career. It’s what lets you stay in touch with your fans. However, it’s hard to find a balance between social and promotional – after all, you still need to sell your record or tickets to your show. Here’s 10 secrets to help you find that social media balance.
Socializing is, by nature, a two-way exchange. Try holding a conversation with someone with your ears plugged. Social media is talking with your audience! There are other tools out there for talking at an audience. Make it a habit to read comments and messages. You’d do the same on your personal accounts, wouldn’t you? By listening to your fans you could also get valuable information like what new song they are digging the most or what they liked about your show last night.
2. Leverage Online and Offline
There is no one-size-fits-all solution. While some artists have managed to build their career on one channel, most of us need to find a balance of online and offline. Maybe you leverage Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and some local shows in your area. The key is to think about how you can send fans from online to offline and visa versa. You need to create a flow.