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Why and how to promote your music video on YouTube

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How to promote your music video on youtube

If you want to reach more people and gain subscribers, music video promotion is essential. This can be achieved by setting up a campaign on YouTube Ads, reaching out to music blogs, and thorough research for the right keywords and hashtags. With these tools, your music video has a much greater chance to reach a wider audience!

Why are music videos important for musicians?

Over 70% of the most-watched videos on YouTube are music videos (the next 26% are children’s nursery rhymes - technically also music videos). Many artists' careers have been kickstarted by having one of their music videos going viral.

Each video gives you an opportunity to create a whole event around it. You could tease the video on your social media channels, set a premiere, post stills from the creation of the video, or celebrate anniversaries of the video launch further after the release. These additional content lanes open up when you decide to release a video.

Through these additional lanes, you can build a stronger connection to your fans and subscribers. In addition, music videos greatly help to establish an artist or band’s public persona.

What is a YouTube Channel?

A channel on YouTube should be one of the first things you create for your band or artist. As YouTube is owned by Google, a YouTube channel is connected to a Google account. Make sure you use your artist's name when signing up for a YoutTube channel and Google account. After you have entered the basic info about where you are from, how you can be contacted, and if you are independent or signed to a label, one of the most important first steps to take before uploading your first video is creating a recognizable profile picture.

Decide between an artist's picture or logo, because both usually do not fit into the small picture frame that YouTube offers. A good profile picture is one of the most important visual anchors you can create for people to remember you and your brand.

How to get an Official Artist Channel (OAC)?

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YouTube has a set of requirements your channel has to meet to be eligible:

  • Only one artist or band. You can’t have videos of multiple bands or artists on your channel if you want to apply
  • At least three of your releases on YouTube must have been delivered or released through a label or distributor like iMusician.
  • No policy violations. Make sure that YouTube has never flagged or even taken down one of your videos for violating their community guidelines.
  • Meet one of the following requirements:
    • You work with a YouTube Partner Manager
    • You are part of the YouTube Partner Program yourself
    • Your channel is part of a label network that works with a Partner Manager
    • Your music is distributed by a music partner listed to Music Services Partners

If you meet these criteria, you can apply here on the YouTube for Artists platform.

If you are an iMusician artist and meet the eligibility criteria of the program, you can submit a request for an OAC through this form.

Why promoting your music video on YouTube is important

You’ve finished your video. Poured weeks and months of blood, sweat, tears, and money into the creation. Shouldn’t the work speak for itself?

500 hours of video content is uploaded to YouTube every single minute, making it highly unlikely that your video is going to be discovered without a little help.

Not every fan and potential listener is a subscriber on YouTube. Also, not every subscriber has turned on the notification bell. Odds are that if you just release the video on YouTube, many who would want to know about it might miss it. Besides sharing the video on all social media channels, getting friends, similar bands, and possibly even media outlets to share it as well, significantly increases its reach. All of these measures are promotional tools that are free of charge (most of the time with media outlets, some have a paid system). In terms of paid promotion, a well-targeted Google Ads campaign can significantly increase the chances of a successful video launch.

How to promote your music video on YouTube organically

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Three phase of a release

There are three phases of promoting a music video: pre-release, the release itself, and post-release. Each phase requires different tools and outlets. When you start planning the release and have set a date, also set a date when the pre-release phase starts. This is when you start posting about the video on social media. This could be an official announcement or you can be more ominous by posting teasers or snippets from the video. However you achieve it, the goal is to create excitement and anticipation. Small things like a new banner or channel description a couple of weeks before the release can kickstart the hype. Your fans will know that something is up.

Video quality

When you have uploaded the video to YouTube (see below), you send out a press release to music blogs and other media with the unlisted link embedded. Make sure to upload the absolute highest quality of your video. YouTube will compress the file anyways so it can be streamed in multiple quality settings. If the original quality is already bad, the lower quality versions will continue to suffer and it will not reflect well on your brand.

Your music video title

The video’s title plays a big role. There are various types of music videos these days besides the standard one: lyric video, live video, cover video. The naming scheme of a video’s title should be: “Artist name - Song name - Official Music Video/Lyric Video/Live/etc.” That way, people will find your new song easier.

Your music video’s description and hashtags

Promote youtube video description

Your video’s description and hashtags can play a big role in its success. In the description, you can list all the people who were involved in the creation of the video like the director, camera crew, editor, and so on. Also, if it is not a lyric video, you can put the lyrics here so your fans have an official source for them. Also, be sure to include links to your album on all streaming platforms, your merch shop (if you have one), and your other social media channels.

In addition, many artists put a variety of hashtags (think hashtags for Twitter or Instagram) in the video’s description (sometimes even in the title). Just like in other social media channels, those hashtags can lead people to watch other videos with the same hashtag. For example, if you put the hashtag “#Grunge” into your description, someone who clicks on that hashtag on another video will be led to more videos using the same tag, one of which will be yours! YouTube will put the first three of your chosen hashtags above your video’s title. So choose carefully.

Your music video’s keywords or tags

Promote youtube video tags

Keywords or tags are similar to hashtags as they connect your music video to others. With the right set of keywords (genre, similar bands, artists, song titles) your video will pop up in people’s search results! If you are unsure what keywords to pick, use a search engine like “Keyword tool”. Enter one keyword, like a band or a genre, and see what the engine suggests. Another way to find popular keywords is to use YouTube’s auto-complete function. Do not overdo this, but think about what other bands and artists have a similar sound and what your fans might be listening to as well. Add the most popular genres and artists in your genre as keywords.

Tips: VidIQ offers a free version where you can get suggestions for tags.

Cards and end cards

Promote youtube video end cards

Cards are displayed at any point during the video except the end. With cards, you have the ability to link to other videos within your video. For example, you can invite fans to the making-of video for your music video. You can even ask artists and bands you are friends with if they can put a card in the beginning of their video linking to yours. The same goes for end cards. Those four cards usually pop up at the very end of each video and you can select what they link to. In addition, before actually releasing the video, add your new video and all the other music videos on your channel to a playlist. That way fans will automatically watch another video of yours once the music video is over.

Premieres and private listings for press

Consider doing a premiere. More of your subscribers will be alerted beforehand, and you can respond in the chat during the premiere and interact with your fans. The most important setting in the upload dialogue: private! Not unlisted. When you send the video to news outlets ahead of release, they will probably want to watch it before release day so they can write about it. However, if you set the status to unlisted, the video might get out because anyone can pass the link along. A premiere feature by a music blog or magazine is quite common and can greatly increase the organic reach of your video.

Reaching out to media outlets

Here it is all about the research. Look for blogs, YouTube accounts that do music news, and websites from music magazines (think Rolling Stone or Consequence of Sound). Have a look at what they post and how to best reach out to them. Many bloggers and magazines have a dedicated email address for band inquiries. Prepare an email with all the important promotional details, like a link to the video, band info and pictures, a link to previous material, album plans, etc. Send that email at least three weeks before the release date to as many magazines in your genre as possible. Many plan their schedule weeks, even months ahead! So if you send an email announcing your new video tomorrow, it is very unlikely you’ll find any magazine or blog that would be willing to cover it.

Press release on release day and newsletter

Additionally, you can send out a press release on the day of the release to all the magazines you contacted. Some do daily short news snippets, so they might not do a full article but still talk about your video! Also, if you haven’t already set it up: create a newsletter! It is one of the easiest channels to reach your fans with. Send the newsletter with the video announcement a couple of days before you contact the news media.

Plan a follow-up video

In terms of timing, think carefully about what you want to release and promote next after your video release. Many bands and artists put everything into one music video or one studio video, only to disappear for months.

  • Create behind-the-scenes and making-of videos and release those a month or two after the release.
  • Go even further and interview other participants of the video shoot in short clips and share the snippets in the weeks after the release
  • Prepare longer posts on your social media channels where you explain the inspiration behind the video

How to promote your video via YouTube Ads on Google Ads

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Besides those free opportunities to promote your music video, there is also another tactic that can help increase your reach dramatically: Google Ads. Through Google Ads you can set up a campaign that will target potential viewers on YouTube. If you reach the right target group, your view numbers will increase dramatically!

Setting up a Google Ads account

Setting up a Google Ads account is fairly easy. You need a Google and YouTube account first, then sign up to Google Ads:

  1. Go to the Google Ads landing page.
  2. Click on “Settings” on the left. Then go to “Sub-account settings” at the top.
  3. Click on the “+” button and then “Create a new account”.
  4. You can either create a Google Ads account or a Smart Campaign account.
  5. Note: A Smart Campaign account creates a Google Ads account with Smart Campaigns in Smart Mode. This is a more assisted way of setting up a campaign. You can always change back to Expert Mode at any time.
  6. Choose a name for the account
  7. Select country and time zone. Be careful, you cannot change this setting later on.
  8. Select a permanent currency for this account. Again, you cannot change this easily later on. Note also, that not all currencies are available in all regions and countries.
  9. If you want to invite someone else into the account for creating a campaign — like your label or manager — click “Invite users to this account”. If not…
  10. … select “Create account”

Connecting your YouTube Account to your Google Ads account

Once you have created your account, one of the first things to do is to connect your Ads account with your YouTube account.

  1. Go to “Tools and Settings”, then “Setup”, then “Linked Accounts”.
  2. In the lower right corner of the listed accounts, you’ll find “YouTube”. Click on “Details”, then “Add channel”.
  3. In the pop-up window, search for your channel. Once you have found it, select it and also select “I own the channel”. Click on “Go To YouTube”.
  4. If you’re not logged into your YouTube account, you can do that now. Otherwise, a window will pop up, “Google Ads account linking”.
  5. Give the link a name (this can be the name of your YouTube channel or something else like “YT ads link”). Click on “Link” and your YouTube account is linked to your Ads account for creating a campaign.

How to create a YouTube Ads campaign

Create youtube ad campaign

You start a campaign in Google Ads by selecting “Ad campaign”. The first thing you can choose is the goal you would like to set for your campaign. Since Google Ads is mainly used by brands and advertisers these options might seem odd: sales, leads, website traffic, product and brand consideration, brand awareness and reach. Since you want to “reach” more people, choose the last option. Or just select “Create a campaign without a goal’s guidance” if you want to set up everything manually. Then you either choose “Display” or “Video”.

  • Display” is text and image-based. The thumbnail of your video will be displayed as a “Discovery Ad” in search results.
  • Video”. So-called “TrueView” Ads which are displayed before, during, or after videos on YouTube.

For starting out, a “Display” campaign is probably a good choice. It is less expensive and can be used to find out the most fitting target group. Once you’re more familiar with Google Ads, a “video” campaign with a dedicated video ad of you inviting the viewer to check out your new video makes more sense. This will result in higher visitor numbers but is also more expensive.

Tip: If you select “Video”, there are a couple of options for how your ad will be displayed to the viewers. The general rule here is that the longer you want the ad to run, and the less skippable it is, the more expensive the campaign and the per-click ratio will be.

Bidding type and budget on a Google Ads campaign for YouTube

On the next page, you give your campaign a name and then set the bidding type. This determines how Google Ads charges you: per view (for video ads), per click, or based on many other interactions. We suggest leaving it on “Maximum CPV” (cost per view) when you’re planning a video ad. For “Display”, choose “Target CPM” (Cost per a thousand impressions).

For the budget, you can either set a total maximum or a daily amount. Generally speaking, the more you spend, the further your ad will be spread. But if you set a daily maximum and then set a time frame of one or two months, things can get expensive real quick! Start out with the fixed amount you want to spend. For the duration, it makes sense to set a one or two-week time frame for most music videos.

Narrowing your target audience in Google Ads

Audience youtube ad

Under “Networks” you select where your ad will be displayed. Depending on which kind of campaign you’re running (“display” or “video”), you select the Network that fits best. In addition, there are options for the location and the languages that your target audience speaks. That is the first step to focus the reach of your campaign. In the beginning, it might make sense to only select a handful of countries and languages to test out your campaign. You can always create a bigger one once you have data to learn from. Next, “Content exclusions” for video ads give you control over what kind of videos your ad should not run on. Unless you’re specifically targeting children or adults, it’s best to leave it on “Standard inventory”.

How to create an ad group on Google Ads

Then, “Create your ad group” is the most important part of your campaign. Who do you want to see your ads and ultimately your music video? Give your target ad group a name and go to “Audiences”. Then “Browse” and start browsing the different categories. For a music video, “Media and Entertainment”, and then “Music Lovers” is a good starting point. Select a couple of genres that are similar to your track. Below “Audiences” there is “Demographics”. Generally speaking, the more selected and targeted your ad group is, the more successful your campaign will be. In addition, beneath that, you can add keywords under “Content”. Try to think of keywords your target audience will search for or keywords that will be included in videos your target audience watches. The same goes for the “Topics” section underneath. What is your target audience interested in? “Arts and Entertainment” will always be a good start.

Selecting where your ad will be shown

Under “Placement” you can select specific videos that you want to have your ad on. Is there a music video or some other popular video where you think your ad might be well-placed? Select it here. Next comes “Bidding”. Here you set the actual amount you’re willing to spend per video-view (CPV) or per thousand clicks (CPM). Your budget will determine the reach of your video.

Next, under “Create Ads” you enter all the details and upload the ad you created for the campaign. Once you have entered all the necessary information, click on “Create Campaign”. The Google Ads team will review your campaign and video ad. Usually, a campaign is approved within 24 hours, given that neither the ad, the music video, or the video ad violate the content policies.

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