Pop Punk duo earns 5 figures from their music on YouTube
CD Baby artists TeraBrite have built up quite the following by creating a steady stream of Pop Punk YouTube music videos and customized vlog intros.
They’re earning serious income from YouTube too — as well as driving significant merch and music sales from their video activity.
So, how does a video-savvy band with quick music production skills find an audience on YouTube? I thought I’d ask TeraBrite…
An interview with TeraBrite about the role of YouTube in their music career
1. So, let’s hear about the basics first. Tell us about TeraBrite. What’s your music like? Where are you from? Why did you get together to make music?
We call ourselves the “Two Piece Band Living in YouTube Land” due to the fact that there are only two of us creating the music of an entire band, and everything we do ends up on YouTube in some way.
Our band consists of my girlfriend, Sabrina Abu-Obeid and me, DJ Monopoli. We are from Melbourne, Florida and met through mutual friends. We started dating and of course the next logical step was to start a two piece band on YouTube right? Seriously though, I have been playing with bands for years, had an instrumental track that I created all by myself that needed some vocals, asked Sabrina if she wanted to sing on it, she did, we put it on MySpace under a band name I had already claimed, and TeraBrite was born.
Our style of music is constantly evolving. We strive to have a huge sound with a mix of heavy guitars and electronic music but usually just go where the music takes us, which is usually somewhere in the ball park of Pop Punk or Post Hardcore. Our goal is to do what we love (making music and videos), entertain, have fun, and make a living doing it. We also intend to prove to the world that times are changing, technology is a very important aspect of being an entertainer, and it’s not unrealistic to think you can base it all around technology and succeed.
2. What made you want to decide to invest so much of your band’s energy into YouTube?
We started out on Myspace around 2009 when all the current bands used it as their primary source of information, and some used it as their website. We only had one song at the time and didn’t plan to do too much with TeraBrite, it was just for fun. Our Myspace eventually had over 20,000 friends, yet we still didn’t get a whole lot of activity on our page.
I started watching daily vlogs from various YouTubers. One day I was surfing YouTube and stumbled upon a daily vlog with a husband, wife, and their kids, called SHAYTARDS which was featured on the front page. I instantly got addicted to it and started watching it every day. I just felt like I had to keep up with their life for some reason, and it always gave me a good laugh. At the end of one of the episodes Shay Carl challenged his viewers to cover his current intro song. He said he would pick a different video every day to use at the beginning of his vlog. Looking at the SHAYTARDS massive audience, I honestly thought if I were to make an intro Shay would never see my video. I figured it would simply get swamped by thousands of videos. However, for some reason I couldn’t get out of my head how incredibly awesome it would be to have music that I created at the beginning of a SHAYTARDS vlog. Because of this I jumped on it immediately and made the most rocking instrumental cover of their intro I could possibly come up with at the time in a matter of a few hours.
I talked Sabrina into singing on it with me and we made a video using a very interesting back and forth shallow DOF concept I had thought of last minute. I figured I would put it on TeraBrite since we somehow had a few hundred subscribers on that channel. Shay ended up using our intro in a video literally a few hours after we uploaded it. We absolutely freaked out. It was the most amazing feeling in the world watching the comments scrolling down his video with support and appreciation for the intro we put together. Our subscriber number started growing extremely quickly and we were getting hundreds of messages and comments on our video requesting intros for other YouTubers.
We made another for a vlog channel called CTFxC who also used our theme song cover. Over time both SHAYTARDS and CTFxC were using our versions of their theme songs daily and for once in our lives we had thousands of real fans that interacted with us. It didn’t take long to realize that YouTube was the place to be and we would soon have to start thinking of other videos to make. Shortly after we started really producing content we found out you can make money making YouTube videos. This was a thought that blew my mind. The fact that I could take two things that I love, combine them into one, and make money doing it was a thought that I could definitely live with.
3. What are you doing on YouTube that sets you apart from other artists?
Lately we have been doing a lot of covers of popular songs and turning them into Pop Punk. There really aren’t a whole lot of YouTubers that do this. However, I think what really sets us apart is our work ethic. We can take a song and transform it into a full band, fully produced, polished, Pop Punk music video in a matter of hours. It just comes so natural to us and the fact that we love doing it makes the process that much more fluent.
4. How do you engage with your subscribers on YouTube? How do you encourage them to take additional action (buy merch, come to shows, sign up for email list, etc.)
The best way to engage with viewers is to have a vlogging channel on the side. TeraBrite is our main channel, but we created a second channel called VleraBrite (TeraBrite daily vlogs) where we simply record our lives and behind the scenes of our music career in the same way that SHAYTARDS and CTFxC do. We find that uploading videos daily gives a fantastic place for viewers to sort of check in daily and see what we are up to. There’s a strong community of viewers out there that have that same craving for daily vlogs that I had when I started watching SHAYTARDS.
The fact that the vlog community is so dedicated makes the vlogs a fantastic place to update everyone on what we are doing or working on, dates, etc. It also provides a much more intimate connection with subscribers since you are giving them a piece of your life. There is a connection there that you can’t really get with anything else, and it’s awesome.
5. How much money are you making from YouTube?
We’re currently making 5 figures, however the power of YouTube lies in it’s community and it definitely plays the biggest part in getting our music out there and boosting merch and music sales.
6. Do you have a “strategy” for creating YouTube/video content?
Lately we have just been going with the flow. When we hear a song we like and think we can “TeraBritize” it, we go for it. When a video idea pops up we make it, etc. We try to keep everything we do as relevant as possible as to keep the interest up.
7. Have you had some instructive failures on YouTube? Mistakes you’ve learned from?
The only thing I can really think of is slacking on uploads. If you don’t keep the uploads coming, subscribers tend to be less active when you come back.
8. What’s been your biggest success on YouTube, and why?
I’m not really sure, I can’t really choose one as a biggest success. It really depends on what you consider a success so I’ll just name a few and you can decide.
Obviously we consider the SHAYTARDS intro a huge success since it jump-started our career and got us into YouTube in the first place. As far as most-viewed video goes, we have a video we made with Sabrina’s little brother Jacob as a parody to the viral video “My First Hardcore Song” that now has over 1.2 million views. Since that doesn’t really count as a TeraBrite song though, I would say TeraBrite’s most viewed video is our cover of Safe & Sound by Taylor Swift & The Civil Wars.
Other than that, thanks to YouTube we have eaten Valentine’s Day dinner on set of Conan where we were served a Taco Bell dinner from the Iron Chef, serenaded by William Shatner, and told Valentine’s stories from Jack McBrayer. One of the greatest experiences of our life. We also won a few contests such as YouTube’s NextUp where we were flown out to New York to attend a week long YouTube boot camp and won $35,000 and also Sprint’s Epic Mini Movie contest for $25,000. All of this were huge contributors to making our dreams come true.
9. Any tricks you can share that’d benefit musicians who are new to YouTube? What are some little things that make a big difference for you? (annotations, links in video description, etc.)
I would definitely recommend that everyone spend more time on meta data (title, description, tags). There’s articles everywhere including on YouTube itself that explain what to do and what not to do with titles, tags, and descriptions. Some things that I do is always keep the most important keywords at the beginning of your title, place important links at the beginning of the description, and put as much relevant info in the description as possible.
If you have the option, make sure your thumbnail of your video pops! High contrast, sharp, thumbnails with vibrant colors are the way to go. Also, you want something that doesn’t have too much fine detail. The picture should be just as impactful when zoomed out to the size of a tiny thumbnail as it is large.
Also, read the YouTube playbook. I’ve learned these things from experience, but I’m sure the YouTube playbook explains it all in deep detail!
Have you grown your fanbase through YouTube? If so, how? Let us know in the comments section below.
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