Author Archive

Draw more attention to your YouTube videos with custom thumbnails

May 25, 2016{ No Comments }

Before someone clicks to play your video, they’re probably going to spend a few nanoseconds looking at the thumbnail  for the video that appears on YouTube or embedded on a website. The thumbnail is a quick snapshot preview of the video. In those few nanoseconds, you’ve got to capture a potential viewer’s interest with that single thumbnail image. No pressure.

Read more »

Using Cards and Annotations to build your YouTube fanbase

May 20, 2016{ No Comments }

YouTube cards give you a mobile-friendly way to interact with your video viewers

With cards you can add a layer of calls-to-action (viewable across all devices) to your videos that will help you raise funds, sell merch, build your email list, announce upcoming events, drive subscriptions, and more.

Adding a YouTube card to your video is easy. To find out how, check out our quick tutorial above (which also talks about YouTube annotations).

Or, if you want more detailed instructions, check out “Building your fanbase using YouTube cards.” Read more »

Do your music videos pass this 10-point test?

May 13, 2016{ No Comments }

The making of a DIY music videoHow to test if an idea has the makings of a viral video before you produce it

First off, I want to say that the tips shared below were initially aimed at creators who want to produce a whole video series, but I think many of the points apply equally to musicians who want to produce individual music videos.

About those video series, though…

One of the clear ways to establish a large audience on YouTube is to create not just a single hit video, but a whole series that can build upon the success of prior videos. For instance, my friend Mike’s band The Union Gospel recently started shooting a bunch of takeaway-style performances in the NYC subway, and they’re calling it The Subway Series. Every week, I’m psyched to click on the video to hear what cover song they picked to play.

What’s the problem with a one-off music video?

Well, nothing inherently, but you might be squandering the buzz if you only post individual videos every once in a while.

Think about it. If you post an awesome music video that gets shared like crazy when it’s first published, but then take 6 months to post a followup video, your YouTube activity will probably look like a giant, exciting spike on the graph which eventually settles back to a disappointing plateau somewhere around where it was before your big hit video.

In this situation, there’s nothing specific for viewers to look forward to. There’s nothing else for them to click on. There’s little to incentivize them to subscribe.

But if they knew you were creating a new video every week or month, that’s a whole different story. Like singer-songwriter Brett Newski’s “Crusty Adventures,” a funny video series about the gross underbelly of touring abroad. It’s tough not to click on each subsequent episode to see what kind of auto breakdown, disgusting smell, bad gig, or swindle comes his way.

But producing a series of videos is much much much much easier said than done. And since it’s hard work, you’ve really got to think your ideas through beforehand.

In a recent Creator Academy bootcamp, YouTube provided a list of 10 helpful criteria to measure the merits of your ideas before you start shooting anything. It’s a kind of checklist, and it’s meant to guide you as you brainstorm video series concepts, but — as I mentioned above — I think many of these criteria are worth applying to individual video ideas too.

Does your video pass the test in these 10 areas?

Ask yourself the following questions. According to the Creator Academy, you don’t need to answer “yes” to every single one in order to make a quality video. But the more times you hear yourself saying “yes,” the more confident you should feel that you’re onto something good. Read more »

Has your instrument ever been damaged while flying?

May 12, 2016{ No Comments }

Rachel Barton Pine’s violin is priceless — or very nearly (it’s worth more than 8 figures according to the above report from NBC News).

So when flight attendants wouldn’t let her store the instrument in an overhead compartment, she tried reasoning with them; she explained that she’s flown on every kind of aircraft and has never encountered an overhead space where her violin wouldn’t fit; she even cited a recent law that gives her the right to bring her instrument aboard; and then — still facing resistance — she got off the plane and booked another flight.

An annoyance, for sure, but at least she didn’t have to file an insurance claim for tens of millions of dollars for a broken piece of 18th Century spruce or maple.

Have you ever had an instrument damaged while flying?

I have. It sucks. But the best way to prevent that from happening is to 1) know your rights, 2) be prepared for the worst, and 3) pack that thing safely.

If you need guidance in any of those three areas, download our free guide with tips for flying with your guitar. Read more »

Why windowing won’t work for you

May 11, 2016{ 6 Comments }

Digital music windowingWith this week’s semi-secret release of a Radiohead album that’s NOT available on Spotify, and recent exclusives by Beyoncé and Drake (on TIDAL and Apple Music respectively), there’s a lot of renewed interest in “windowing.”

Windowing is where you stagger your release across platforms, driving diehard fans first to the platform(s) that most benefits you (the artist), and then — maybe — broadening the availability of your music to other platforms or models over time.

For instance, let’s pretend you’re Adele and you know your latest record will sell like crazy. So for the first few weeks you make the album available only as a physical CD and traditional download to make the most money possible in the time when the music is getting the most attention. No streaming.

Then once those sales start to taper off, you introduce the music into the streaming environment.

If you’re a DIY artist, limiting your distribution is probably a mistake

Read more »

Amazon Video Direct to compete with YouTube, allowing creators to monetize videos

May 11, 2016{ 2 Comments }

Amazon Video DirectA new  Amazon program called Amazon Video Direct (or AVD) lets video creators post content to Amazon’s video hub, which already serves over 50 million paid Amazon Prime subscribers in the US alone.

According to tubefilter:

AVD users can post and monetize their videos in various ways. If added to the Amazon Prime library, for instance, creators can reap royalties based on hours streamed. Creators can also monetize by offering their content via one-off rentals or purchases, or even monthly subscriptions. And finally, in a move that brings Amazon squarely into competition with 10-year-old YouTube, it will allow creators to share revenues from ad impressions.

Just like YouTube’s revenue split, Amazon will keep 45% of ad earnings, according to The Wall Street Journal. It will take 50% of revenues from rentals, purchases, and subscriptions, and pay content holders 15 cents for every hour streamed in the U.S. on Amazon Prime. (AVD is also available in Germany, Austria, the United Kingdom, and Japan, where creators will get 6 cents for every hour streamed on Prime.)

Read more »

Proof you don’t need a budget to make interesting music videos

May 6, 2016{ 2 Comments }

Ingrid Michaelson pieced together a music video for her song “Hell No” one snap at a time. It’s fun, cheap, silly, and somehow works with the music.

Sure, this might be the type of thing Ingrid can get away with and seem charming because she’s sorta famous already, but I think it’s a good example of how you don’t necessarily need a production budget to make a video that adds something to the music and interests your fans.

For some tips on how to make a no-budget music video, click HERE. Read more »

Different kinds of “press” you can get for your music

May 6, 2016{ No Comments }

Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 10.29.52 AMWhat does it mean to “get press” for your music?

Well, it could mean a bunch of different things:

* features

* show previews

* premieres

* album reviews

* interviews

* and more

Want to know the difference between these kinds of press, and how to secure each kind of coverage?

Public Display PR wrote a handy article on this very subject. Click the link below for a good music PR overview: Read more »

New and improved iTunes Trending Reports now available in your CD Baby account

May 4, 2016{ No Comments }

iTunes Trending Reports from CD Baby

We’ve vastly improved our iTunes trending reports. Check them out now!

A few months ago we introduced Spotify trending reports in your CD Baby dashboard. Now we’ve added new and improved iTunes trending reports too. Say goodbye to clunky spreadsheet downloads, say hello to easy-to-read stats and graphs, right from inside your Members account.

Log in, take a look, and run an iTunes report that’ll show you:

* Where your listeners are

* What your most downloaded tracks and albums are

* The countries where you’re most popular

* and more Read more »

Jealous of Radiohead? They just deleted their entire Internet presence

May 2, 2016{ 2 Comments }

radioheadLast year I wrote an article called “Three lessons you SHOULDN’T learn from Taylor Swift, Thom Yorke, and Beyoncé.”

Well, here’s another to add to that list: Delete your entire Internet presence.

It’s just the latest in a long string of amazing moves Radiohead has made over the years that work wonders for them, but would probably fall flat if you tried something similar.

If you visit the band’s website, Facebook page, or Twitter profile, you’ll see… nothing. Except for the fact that millions of people are now following an empty shell of an account. The feeds are gone. Activity has flatlined. Instead, the band has sent cryptic leaflets to fans in the mail. And on queue, the whole world — including this blog — is talking about it!

There’s much speculation that the surprise blackout means Radiohead’s 9th studio album will be released any minute now.

How will they promote their new music without an Internet presence? Well, in typical Radiohead fashion they’ve unplugged and they’re letting the rest of us do their online promo work for them. Brilliant. Genius. And something that many DIY artists would love to do every once in a while.

Imagine it: you suspend or delete your profiles, turn the computer off, and get back to making music, music, music, music, music! I’m jealous.

But that doesn’t make it a smart marketing strategy for lesser-known musicians. Read more »