YouTube has tightened up the rules for monetization in recent years. Unless you use a Content ID provider (like iMusician, check out our YouTube monetization service), you need to have a minimum of 1000 subscribers, 4000 hours of viewing time in twelve months, and 10,000+ views on your channel to enable ads and monetize your videos.
So it's important to have a solid strategy for your channel, so you can increase two essential factors: the number of subscribers and the viewing time.
To help with this, we asked Guillaume from Musical Marketing for his 7 tips on boosting your YouTube channel.
1. Your brand image (at all levels)
Let's start at the beginning: optimising your channel.
This ensures that your brand image is consistently present on YouTube in order to improve the visibility and professionalism of your channel.
Some elements to have on YouTube:
- a name that corresponds to your project name (no "OFFICIAL" or pseudo-"VEVO")
- an icon or logo that makes it easy to identify your project on YouTube
- an image (banner) related to your brand
- a description (short bio) that summarises what visitors can expect to see on your channel (the type of videos, frequency of posting, a short history of the project, etc.)
- useful links (see point 2)
- (optional:) a presentation video about your channel
- playlists for organising your channel (see point 4)
- a customised URL for your music project: (example: www.youtube.com/user/mygreatband customised thumbnails for each of your videos
2. An integrated marketing strategy
Whether on your channel or in any of your videos, it's important to link everything to your artist website (a priority) as well as to your social networks and streaming profiles. The goal may be either to sell your music or to encourage visitors to join your email list in exchange for being offered one or more songs.
An effective network shortens the path that your fans must take to reach what they're looking for, thus keeping them happy. And a happy fan is a good fan.
If you do not have a website, then simply redirect them to your Facebook page or to your artist profiles on streaming platforms (Spotify, Deezer, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, etc.). Note that the Promo player is an effective tool for promoting your music across all platforms and only takes up a single line in your description.
3. Title, description and adapted tags
The title is the first thing your audience sees and is a way of improving your positioning in the search results.
You must ensure that your title is clear, concise, video-friendly and keyword-focused. As for the description, it provides information as well as linking directly and manually to all of your social network sites, shops, albums and anything else that's relevant.
IMPORTANT: You can also insert a subscription link that invites people to automatically subscribe to your channel. To do this, simply grab your channel URL and add "? Sub_confirmation = 1" at the end.
Add links to your current news, but remember to keep the first lines of the description as a summary of or commentary on the video for two reasons: creating that vital first contact with your fans, and SEO optimisation. Additionally, give any information that you think is essential, such as the lyrics of an original song. And, while we're talking about SEO, it's important to remember that video tags also have a role to play.
Since YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, the best way to gain potential is to add relevant and popular keywords to your channel and video tags that will appear in search results.
Keep in mind, however, that the more tags you use, the lower weight each one carries, so focus on just a handful.
4. Annotations, cards, playlists and calls to action
YOU decide what appears on your videos. If, for example, you want to add invitations for people to subscribe, go to your site or buy your music, it's possible to do so as long as these messages aren't too intrusive.
YouTube has created cards allowing you to involve your audience in a simple and effective way. So, don't hesitate to add calls to action at the end of your videos. These could encourage your audience to follow your social networks, pre-order your album or subscribe to your newsletter.
Remember to use playlists to categorise different videos, improve your SEO, evaluate your channel and make navigation easier for your fans: covers, original songs, official clips, tours, albums, vlogs, etc.
IMPORTANT: Enable the Series Playlist option and when you share a clip or a video, it's always shared from a playlist so maximise watch time on your channel.
5. Covers (among other things)
An mistake many independent artists make is thinking that they must limit themselves to their own songs on YouTube. In fact, if you do this you'll gain very little visibility since most people searching for the name of your musical project already know you.
A great way to grow your fanbase is to make covers of popular songs in your own style of music, these then appear in search results associated with the artist in question. Alter your original songs and covers on your channel.
From time to time, you can also vary the type of video by adding everything that relates directly or indirectly to your career: your life, teasers, backstage news, vlogs, google hangouts etc.
YouTube offers all of its users powerful statistical tools for analysing the performance and evolution of every video on their channels. It would, therefore, be a great shame not to take advantage of these tools to see what works and what doesn't on your channel.
You will find out more about the number of views, viewing time, the location of users, the engagement of the audience (their likes, subscriptions, comments, shares, favourites) and much more. By comparing the statistics of your different videos you can see at a glance which content offers the best return on your investment and what to remove from your channel.
7. The right attitude
Unfortunately, creating a strong presence on YouTube cannot simply be reduced to a checklist of things to do. It requires, above all, the right attitude:
- Be patient and determined: building your fanbase on the platform isn't going to happen in one night, one week, or even in one to three months. Creating a buzz is always possible, but the goal, in the long run, is to have a solid community and not just a house of cards that will collapse in a few days.
- Remember that Youtube is a social network: expect interactivity, especially in the form of comments and private messages. Answering fans quickly after the release of a new video shows you value them and gives them a reason to come back.
- Publish new content on a regular basis: You'll have a much higher chance of retaining your audience if you post new videos on your channel frequently (at least once a week or fortnight). As we've seen, there's no need to publish an official clip every time, you can simply release a video that's a little less professional, but more original.
- Collaborate with other artists and YouTubers: This not only allows you to grow your network, but also quickly increases the number of your subscribers through the fanbase of someone else. The point is to seriously consider what people you want to collaborate with, as well as how and why.
To sum up
Breaking into YouTube may take time, but it is incredibly rewarding for your career. I personally invite all artists to work on their video strategy today, using this great digital promotion tool.
If you want to monetise your music and learn more about the YouTube Content ID option, check out our YouTube monetization page.
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