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YouTube has become the primary way that music fans find new music online. This is why it’s also important that your YouTube channel represents your music in an attractive and engaging way.

8 tips for making a YouTube channel that engages your audience and encourages music sales

1. Use a custom YouTube channel photo background

When you are logged into your YouTube account, you can style your YouTube channel page by clicking Themes & Colors and then Advanced Options. Here you can upload your own background for your YouTube channel page.

Tips for choosing and uploading your background:

  • Choose a picture that is more panoramic than close-up. Think: wide angle shots of your band on stage or something scenic.
  • The center of your picture will be somewhat obscured by videos and text. So if the focus of the pic is on the left or right–all the better.
  • Use a picture taken in landscape rather than portrait. This will work best for modern widescreen monitors.
  • Use a photo that is wider than 970 px in width. This way your picture will extend beyond the edges of the main content area on YouTube (which is 970 px).
  • Make sure to set the transparency under General and Color Palettes so that your photo can be seen through the foreground boxes.
  • Try setting your transparency to somewhere between 10% and 40%. You can also change the text color to make it more readable.
  • In most cases, it doesn’t look all that great to tile your image. It’s probably better to choose a larger image.
  • Set your background color to something that blends well with your photo.

2. Set your channel type to “Musician”

When you’re logged into your YouTube account and go to your channel, click “Settings” and you can select musician as your channel type. Now you can add performer information and publish a schedule of show dates (by enabling the “events dates” module).

3. Add links to your website and where they can buy your album

Linking to your website is good, but making a link that takes fans to your purchase page on iTunes, CD Baby or your website is the most effective way to encourage sales.

As long as you have selected musician as your channel type you should be able to add your own buy buttons using your album artwork.

You can also use the channel description or about me area to place a text link for your album.

To create a link, simply enter the URL of your store page and YouTube will hyperlink it.

Also, be sure to include a website or buy link in the first sentence of your video description for every video you make. It must be in the first sentence because YouTube will truncate the text so that only the first sentence can be read unless you click to expand the description.

4. Add tags to your channel and your videos

Tags are important. Tags are keywords that help people find your video in YouTube’s search engine.What will your fans type into YouTube to find your video? Tag your videos with venue names, your band name (correct spelling and misspellings), song names, city, state, genre and other relevant keywords. Then when someone types in a search for your song or band, you have a much better chance of coming up first.

To add tags to your YouTube channel, look under Settings.

To add tags to an individual video, click Videos from the drop down menu at the top right of your screen. Then click edit next to the video you want to add tags to.

5. Be mindful of what you title your videos

Not many people on YouTube are going to be searching for “sadsong-ver.2 w/o vocals recorded at John’s.”

Include your band name, song name, the venue or location (if relevant) and maybe even a few specific keywords that accurately describe your music.

For instance:

Tommy Jug Band plays Silly Girl at Sunnyside Tavern, Portland, OR – Country Funk and Bluegrass

6. Add a variety of video content

Mix things up. Not everything has to be a traditional music videos. Interview your bandmates. Interview your fans. Check out this post on the 12 kinds of video to promote your music.

7. Use YouTube annotations

Video annotations allow you to add comments and links in your video. You control what the annotations say, where they appear on the video, and when they appear and disappear. While it can be easy to over use them, adding links to where people can buy your album (directly in the video) is pretty cool. It’s also useful for adding song lyrics or commentary that may further engage your audience. Learn more about creating YouTube annotations here

8. Respond to every comment

Responding to comments will not only make your fans feel appreciated, it will also inspire others to comment on your videos. Try starting the comments off yourself by asking a question or pointing out something interesting in the video.

For example:

Can you spot the scene where Chris drops his guitar?
Is the end of this song too long?
Check out the gaff at 3 minutes 12 seconds.

Do You have any tips for improving your YouTube Channel? What’s worked and what hasn’t? Let us know in the comments below.

Sell your music on CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon MP3, Facebook and more!

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  • Anyone have opinions about the type of comments you get on YouTube?

    I follow a lot of classical music and ballet on YouTube, and I usually just avoid the comments completely. People on YouTube seem to leave a lot of comments that are petty, superficial, self-absorbed or critical in an idiotic way (“I could do that so much better!! He sucs!!” on a video of Horowitz playing Mozart! The majority of the comments on that video were negative.)

    I’m not opposed to web comments in general… I use Facebook a lot for various projects and have had really good experiences with the discussions there. Same with blogs, although not many blogs have enough traffic to help out with music sales. Lots of places online have good communities and well-thought-out reviews.

    But the YouTube comment issue is the one thing preventing me from putting any of my music on there.


      Totally agreed on the comments issue. Sometimes on the Fukushima issue or philosophical / scientific topics you will get insights, but for our music output one can DISABLE COMMENTS, but still provide an email contact for those interested in content.

  • TheFezz


  • OK, thanks. Now I uploaded an old photo of my band, Kra + added tags. Let’s see if this helps any.

  • Ta’ fxkz

    Thanks for helping me know that i could set the wrapper transparency – i think it has helped my channel a bit http://youtube.com/tafxkz

  • The internet is full of idiots, to be sure. Personally, I would encourage you to still pursue whatever promotional avenues you have. YouTube is one of those. If you post something that starts getting a bunch of bad reviews, you could always take it down later.

  • hi

  • Let us know how it goes!

  • Cool. Glad to help.

  • Re. Heather's comment: while not a direct response, one piece of advice I'd offer to emerging musicians using youtube is – no matter how tempting – don't disable comments. Nothing puts me off the videos of a relatively unknown artist quite like 'comments disabled', and many of my friends feel the same way. It makes me believe (whether true or not) that this artist/band is not receptive to their fans, and either does not believe in his/her work, or considers their career not as a dialogue between artist and audience, but rather a slightly arrogant, one-way, didactic affair.

    Yes, youtube is full of unnecessary bile, cruelty and small-mindedness, but in principle that dialogue is very important, and appearing receptive attracts fans. As CDBaby Admin advises, if you're overwhelmed with negative comments, just take it down.

    Thanks to CDBaby for all the ongoing advice – a great help!

    • Great points. Appearing insecure by disabling comments will not instill much confidence in the viewer/listener.

  • I like receiving CDBaby's promotion ideas but I can't help but realize that, in all but a one-in-a-million case, they are straws for drowning men to grasp at.

    What makes any of us think YouTube or iTunes or Facebook or even word of mouth is going to accomplish enough of what we need to put food on the table? Success there is like randomly becoming the most popular radio station in a car with 300,000,000 choices! I don't care how talented we are, each of us needs the professional promotion only a lot of money can buy. Do-it-yourself promo yields minimal results.

    I'm not saying you shouldn't try it; just don't expect anything. The music business long ago gave way to the entertainment business where your most important assets are your looks, how "cool" you are, and how much money a corporation spends on advertising you. If we realize and accept that, we will look for success in more attainable ways. For example, if you are pleased by your album or tune, it doesn't matter whether anyone buys it; it is a success.

    • I have a few thoughts on this. FIrst, I agree that simply to have created something of value is a success. But unlike it was even 10 years ago, the Digital Revolution has made it easier for more musicians to make a living with their music. There are fewer blockbuster millionaires (and yes, the corporate music business, by and large, still is responsible for creating those superstars), but there are many many many independent or small label artists making enough to feed themselves, their families, cover costs, and put a little away for the next album or tour. The tips we try to share are aimed at folks who are striving for THAT level of success. We're under no illusions that you'd simply pimp out your YouTube channel and suddenly become the next Lady GaGa or Coldplay. But if you're both artistically talented and marketing-minded, you can get yourself to the "I'm making a living" phase, and once you're making a living, you might have a shot at that upper level stuff where someone else swoops in and does the work and pays for everything. Though hoping for that is a bit like waiting for lightening to strike.

  • Jef Kearns

    I’m trying to change my account to a “musician” account but can’t seem to find the means to do so. Do you have to initially set it up as one

  • Spiky

    Thanks for the tips ! So i just remade my youtube channel :).


  • When you're logged into your YouTube account and go to your channel, click "Settings." You can change the channel type to "musician" there.

  • Looks good!

  • Red Scimitar

    Channel type? There’s no setting. It says “Channel type:” – and following it is BLANK. There is no option to change. Or if there is, it isn’t where you’ve said. Can you edit/update or at least clarify?

  • Red Scimitar

    Here’s the actual way to get to a channel type setting, assuming you have an account you are logged into:

    1. Assuming you’ve just logged in, click the down-arrows next to your username in the upper-right part of the screen. This will pull down a menu.
    2. Click on “Channel” – do not click on “Settings” as this won’t give the ability to change the channel type.
    3. Click on “Settings” button – it is along the top, just under the youtube search.
    4. Now you will see the selection of channel types.

    • lost

      It doesnt work for me. the only things i see are, “appearance”, “info and settings”, and “featured tabs”. and none of them give me the function to change it to musician.

  • Sorry for the confusion. When you're on your YouTube channel, and logged in, click "Settings." Once you do that, you'll see the place to select the channel type.

  • Any information about how to get an official youtube link directly to iTunes as a lot of mainstream music videos have (where it pops up as an ad at the bottom of the video)? I know you can put a link in the description, which is nice, but not quite as good.

    Also, you mention using annotations in videos- but last time I tried, they only allow clickable links to other youtube videos, not to outside sites (like iTunes). Has this changed or am I missing something?

    Many thanks!

    • Annotations only allow links to internal YouTube URLs (channels, playlists, videos, etc.) If you want to link to iTunes, you'd have to put it in the description. The other thing you're seeing is a feature that is allowed when you have a fancy-pants branded YouTube account, but I don't think many people can get those. They're for like… Coke, Starbucks, Nike, etc.

    • Or it also might be an allowable feature for bands accepted into the YouTube partner program. I'll have to check to be sure, though.

  • Curious Chris

    Uploading a video is obvious, but how do you upload audio and just add a static visual to it (one picture or more)?

  • You can make a video like that in iMovie or some similar program. Just drag in a still image and designate that it appear static or loop for the whole duration.

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  • Philipcjo

    what’s the correct size for the background picture to fit perfectly without repetition?

  • Well, it depends on the users screen size and resolution. Check out this article for some detailed info: http://mashable.com/2010/01/14/custom-twitter-you

    I also found this: "A safe bet to ensure that your background will not be cut off or tiled at most resolutions is a 1680 x 1200 pixel image. The image resolution should be web standard 72 dpi"

  • lost

    i dont see themes and colors nor advance options…….

  • I'm actually gonna go back through the Channel creation process right now for a guide I'm writing. If you didn't find what you're looking for,… it may be in a different place since they updated the user/account stuff a few months ago.

  • Fred

    You can also use the channel description or about me area to place a text link for your album.
    Don't you want folks to see the CDBaby link somewhere under Youtube video?
    About me or Comments, didn't seem to work. thanks FS

  • Craigh Band