YouTube can be a tricky one to understand. It isn’t simply a case of uploading your music there and being paid. Sometimes it can seem like you have to jump through hoops to make it big on YouTube. To earn money through your music, you want to be within the Content ID system. However, there are certain requirements you must meet to achieve this.
Often artists will try to gain streams in an inorganic way, which can be classed as fraud streaming. This is where artists will connect their release to the Content ID system, and then from separate accounts they upload their content multiple times, knowing it will create claims. It’s important to note that not all artists realise the error of this, however. It isn’t always a case of them trying to game the system, although the store will always act upon it as that. This is simply because all artists have to be treated equally, and fraud streaming generated ineligible earnings. If you’re ever tempted to do this, don’t. YouTube are really hot on it, and you will get caught out. Resulting in your content being banned from Content ID and also your earnings won’t be sent to you.
There are ways you can grow your streams in an organic way, however. By growing your followers on YouTube you’re guaranteed more streams. Many of your subscribers will turn your notifications on so whenever you upload a new video, they will be notified. This could be really useful if you’re looking to release regular music videos. Keep reading if you want to see our advice on growing your audience within YouTube.
Ensure your artist branding is up to scratch. You need it to be the same throughout all of your social media and streaming platforms. It acts as your identity, so it needs to be strong and consistent. As an independent artist, you don’t have a whole army behind you to promote your work. That comes down to you, which is why you need to be memorable.
We have written many blog posts about how to get the most out of your artist branding. Here are a few of these:
- 5 creative ways of finding your new artist or brand name
- Branding 101: what is a brand aesthetic & how can I create one?
- A quick, DIY, beginner’s guide to brand creation in 7 steps
- 10 free DIY tools to improve your visual branding
- Branding 101: what makes a good brand or artist name?
You need to ensure you have an icon or logo that connects with your artist image. It must match the brand identity you are trying to enforce. This could be a photo from a promo shoot, an image from your release artwork, or even a logo you have had designed with your artist name. The same goes for your banner on YouTube. Make sure this fits with your icon and matches the theme that your artist represents.
PUSH Tip: Someone should be able to view your YouTube, social media accounts and artist pages on streaming platforms and know it’s you instantly. Your image should be so fluid across the board, that they do not need to see your name to know that it is you.
This should be a bio of sorts within your YouTube profile. The same way you would have one on Instagram etc. Use it to tell your subscribers about you. Let them see your personality shine through here. Think about why it is they should follow you, by this we don’t mean come across as needy. Don’t force people to subscribe because it won’t work. However, you can let people know what they can expect from your channel, what kind of music you create and how often they’ll be seeing new content from you. Make sure you update this whenever anything changes.
Add in any relevant links to your bio. This could be your Fan Link, so your subscribers know where else they can listen to your content. You might decide to add a cause you’re passionate about here, to show your followers another side to your personality. Or perhaps you want to include your social media accounts, so they can follow your journey across multiple channels.
PUSH Tip: Remember your Fan Link can contain all of this information in one, customisable URL.
A big no no
Don’t add VEVO or Official to your channel. It might seem tempting but if it’s not real, people will know. If you want to partner with VEVO take a look at their website and see how you can do this officially. Equally, you can apply for an Official Artist Channel on YouTube. To do this, you need to reach out to your label or distributor. It’s a simple process, however there are requirements you need to meet. Once approved, your normal YouTube channel will combine with your Topic channel. This gives you more freedom when it comes to customising your channel.
Adding a musical symbol to the end of your name is the same issue. It can be misleading and fans don’t like to be lied to. You’ll gain the musical note once your account gets approved as an Official Artist Channel. However sometimes you can delay this process from happening, if you’re trying to fake it yourself. Heading to the about section of someone’s YouTube channel will tell you all you need to know, so there’s no point pretending. It is fairly obvious.
PUSH Tip: If you want an Official Artist Channel, ask your label or distributor for advice.
Use your statistics
YouTube offers in-depth analytics and statistics. Make sure you’re using them to benefit you. You’ll be able to see where most of your views are coming from, meaning you can tailor your uploads to these areas. Upload your content at a time that suits your audience. You’ll also be able to see what your viewers are interested in. Take a look at their likes, subscriptions and comments. This could help you decide what route to go down with your future content. Play to your strengths and use this information to encourage engagement from your subscribers. They might be particularly interested in a current trend or challenge going round the artist world. Why not see if you can join in? It might gain you more views from their mutuals.
Every video you post will generate its own statistics. Ensure you’re looking at the performance of all of your videos, rather than just your channel as a whole. This will break down what works and what doesn’t for you. Over time, you’ll start to see trends or themes within your statistics. It will stand out what works for your channel best and what your viewers want to see. Yes you might think being an independent artist is all about posting music videos to YouTube, but you could be wrong. It might be that your subscribers want to see more about you, the person behind the screen. Or, maybe they want lyric videos so they can sing along?
PUSH Tip: Check all of your account statistics at least once a week.
Covers are ok
Despite what people in the industry might lead you to believe, covers are absolutely fine. Why wouldn’t they be? It’s impossible to believe that an independent artist can keep regular content coming to a professional standard, if it’s all original. Of course, there are many independent artists that do this. However, we’re here to break the stigma. There is absolutely no need to put that level of pressure on yourself.
Independent artists often have to write, create, edit their music with no outside help. It’s challenging enough without people applying the idea that it needs to be done all the time, otherwise they’ll fall behind. A great way to gain new subscribers is actually by covering popular songs. Check out what’s performing particularly well at the moment and make your own version. Let your fans hear your voice and show your creative style through recreating a well known song and turning it into something new. It’s important to be aware that covers cannot always be monetised because after all, the rights to the song do belong elsewhere. However, this shouldn’t stop you. After all, it’s not all about the money, we’re here to grow your YouTube subscribers and this is one way you can do this.
PUSH Tip: Try to get ahead of the game. If a well known artist has released a new track, try to cover it before everyone has.
Titles and descriptions are important
Your video title is the first thing your audience will see. Many YouTubers use clickbait as a way to attract attention to their videos. This is a little difficult when it comes to music artists. You can exactly title your music video as something it’s not. However, this is a time when we would recommend putting the word official into your title. We’re aware we told you earlier not to put it into your artist name. Don’t worry, we still stand by that point, but you can use it in your videos. It will direct your fans straight to that video rather than any others. Perhaps some of your fans create lyric videos to your new tracks. They can be claimed through Content ID but still, you want your fans seeing your video first. After all, you spent a lot of time on it.
Be clear and concise in both your title and description. Avoid waffle because most people won’t bother to read it. Add information like your Fan Links and social media pages into your description. You can use this space to credit anyone that may have helped you out with the creation of this video.
Information within your videos
This isn’t referring to what information you talk about in your videos. If they’re music related then it’s unlikely you’ll do any talking to provide information. When we say information within your videos, we mean the little pop-ups that happen. You must have watched a video on YouTube before and in the top right corner you see a little information button. This is where people often link previous videos they want you to watch next. It’s a great way for independent artists to promote their other music. Add your previous music video into your new one and it becomes like a domino effect.
Another valuable feature is playlists. Within YouTube, you can organise your own playlists, and they’ll roll from one video into the next. It’s a great way of gaining extra views while still being subtle about it because often people will put on a video while doing other things. Before they know it, it’s rolled on to the next and the next. You can then categorise your videos. Perhaps you have multiple music videos for a certain album. Add all of these together under one playlist with the album title.
Under the information tab you can include subscribe options, that’s where a lot of YouTubers add the button to turn on notifications and subscribe. It will gain you watch time and also encourage people to interact with your content. It’s a simple and effective way of growing your channel.
Independent artists face possibly more challenges than artists signed to labels and record companies. This is because they’re a one-man band. They have to juggle promo, music creation and all of their artist pages. These are just some of the ways that you can grow your engagement which in turn will boost your following. The main thing is to keep going. It will seem impossible to grow your numbers to start with, but it’s a process. This is what you need to remember. Everyone started somewhere. Those artists you see with thousands of subscribers once started out with none.