Why YouTube is More Important Than Anything Else in Your Music Career

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Why YouTube is Crucial to Your Music CareerYouTube: the new radio, the new MTV, the new record store, the new music magazine, the new everything

[Take your YouTube presence to the next level with Illustrated Sound.]

Let’s state the obvious: the world has changed, especially for independent musicians.

Music consumers aren’t moving away from the idea of music “ownership” outright (a huge part of the global music market still prefers to buy CDs, after all), but legal alternatives to ownership (ummm… streaming!) have dramatically changed the way listeners engage with music in the first place.

Convenience and cost are a big part of that shift, of course; Spotify gives you access to an enormous catalog of tunes, anywhere you go, for the price of two cups of coffee per month. But sharability is also a huge factor in our changing habits. When you listened to a song on terrestrial radio, or on a listening station at a record store, or even on a CD — it took some effort to share that experience. (Well, you’d at least have to type out a tweet and search around online to find a good link to share that music with your friends).

And that’s where YouTube has really succeeded. Not only is YouTube THE most popular online tool for music discovery, but amongst the younger demographic (18-) it’s also become THE preferred platform for listening to music. I have to assume that the user-friendly social aspect of YouTube (pretty seamless integration with Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc.) is a big part of that — in addition to convenience (smartphone apps) and cost (free). Oh, and then there’s that whole VIDEO thing, too.

As an artist — absolutely — you should have a website, and write good songs, and practice, and play gigs, and do interviews, and run smart PR campaigns, and have worldwide music distribution (w/ CD Baby, if I have any say in the matter). But when you combine a great song with great visuals, you’re greatly magnifying your greatness, which is great for your career. ;-)…

… and THAT’s why YouTube can be the most powerful tool you have to promote your music career. Think of artists like OK Go, Gotye, Walk Off the Earth, Justin Bieber, Karmin, and Pamplemoose. None of these artists’ careers would have gone nearly as far without YouTube.

And the social aspects of YouTube’s functionality (easy sharing and embedding, views counter, comments section, etc.) means that music fans can now play a more active and immediate role in recommending music to other listeners. So YouTube is even taking on some of the responsibilities that traditional print media once played.

So, have I convinced you yet that you should be spending more energy creating YouTube videos your fans will love to share? Here’s a recap:

5 reasons you should be boosting your presence on YouTube

1. YouTube is the #1 search engine for music fans

2. YouTube has become the #1 listening platform for younger music fans

3. Many artists have built their careers strictly through YouTube

4. There’s no easier way to beam your music/brand/personality into someone’s ears/eyes/home/imagination than through engaging music videos

5. Big ad-revenue is being generated by YouTube and you can earn your share by monetizing your music on YouTube

Once you’ve used YouTube to get your music videos heard, seen, and shared in the first place, THEN you can sell your music to your new fans, collect email contacts to build your newsletter list, and get folks to come out to your shows.

——–

What do you think? Am I overselling the importance of YouTube for breaking new artists? Have you had big successes using YouTube for your music promotion? Let me know in the comments section below.

To find out HOW to promote your music on YouTube, download our FREE guide:

 Promote Your Music on Youtube

In this article

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  • Danami

    I’m building my presence on YouTube as an extension and discovery mechanism for potential fans while creating appealing content my current fans will enjoy. It’s challenging building a following on YouTube. I’m holding onto consistency and perseverance to pull me through.

  • Michael Pitluk

    Great article. I don’t think you’re overselling YouTube at all. It’s a valid conclusion given the facts you listed about YouTube. I’m inspired to invest in a video editing program now. Thanks for sharing!

    • Danami

      I use and recommend Sony Vegas for PC. Simple, but effective.

    • Christian Andersson

      I also agree, great article, Chris.

      Michael:

      It depends how advanced stuff you want to do. I’ve created about 25 YouTube music videos with very simple means, using the Windows Movie Maker. This has enough to get you started to do pretty OK stuff. But of course, it depends on how customized you want your videos to be and how pro they should look. Here’s an example of what I did lately. I know visual quality is bad, but this was my first simple experient to get started myself:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_U5uaN6d9YE

  • YouTube is awesome, this is a great post by the way.

  • raine

    You’re dreaming….with youtube to mp3 converters so called ‘fans’ are not buying music, they’re ripping it for free from youtube. And unless you are at the career level of Justin Bieber fans aren’t coming out to shows…what with drinking and driving laws. Also the only people making money on youtube is youtube…. bands don’t starting monetizing until they’ve gotten more than 200,000 plays and even then the revenue earned is peanuts….Belinda Carlyse of the GoGo’s made $34 on one of her songs that reached around 20 million plays on youtube.

    • D. Rose in the paint

      Not true! I did an EP last summer…I put the album on
      Youtube, and made a commercial for the album. I uploaded the album on
      Band camp for FREE with an option to pay. I made money consistently from
      Band camp via the traffic from the youtube commercial and album i
      uploaded, so much I was in the top 10 sellers list for 2 months. I left
      Band camp links on my youtube page’s description box. You have a higher
      chance of making money if you create an album and not just single
      songs…..because people want WHOLE projects for ownership in their
      Ipods….I guess its a collector mindframe.

    • That Guy Who Goes There

      Don’t put everything you have on YT, just a selection … or short previews rather than the entirety of songs. Enough to give listeners a taste without giving away the store.

      Also, the rare times when I rip stuff (usually old stuff that’s been around forever) I no longer use conversion sites, I just plug a 1/8″ line into the headphone jack and record it into a recorder like my Tascam DR-05 or whatever.

    • Callie

      I beg to differ. I’ve made my entire music career on Youtube. It is a hard thing to do for sure. Takes huge dedication and crowd interaction. Artists that aren’t making any money from millions of views must have a record label keeping it.

      True, ad revenue is small. One of my new videos gets maybe 5000 views on a good week. I post 1 every week and I make and average of $100 a month. Not huge, but very welcome.

      I will say that the ad revenue is the last reason I post videos on Youtube. With a fairly small audience (compared to youtube stars) I make WAY MORE on album sales to youtube fans than I do on ad revenue. See, when they subscribe to you on Youtube you have the opportunity to share whatever you want with them. You can let them in to your personality instead of just your music. They get a sense of belonging. They realize you are up-and-coming and they feel very special to be able to help you have success. They feel that one day when you are famous they’ll be able to say they helped you get there by supporting you when you were small. People LOVE to find these types of indie artists on youtube.

      My small, extremely dedicated audience (maybe a thousand or so) has funded my latest album for $7500 and provided enough revenue between sales and ad money that I only have to keep a very minimal part-time job. Any time I have an online concert for a “pay what you want” price, most will pay between $5 and $20. A few pay 10cents.

      The more loyal an audience is, the more included in your success they are, the more quickly they excitedly share your music with others.

      Certainly many will rip your audio for free. It sucks. But there are so many great viewers out there, ready to connect with someone who has big dreams. It makes them feel hopeful in their own dreams. They can be so supportive and such a wonderful force for your success.

  • You can monetize your songs on YouTube long before 200k. With CD Baby's Sync Licensing program, there's no minimum engagement requirement. In the next few weeks we'll have paid out almost 3 quarters of a million dollars to indie artists for the usage of their music on YouTube. I hear your concern, but I don't think people are converting YouTube videos to MP3s much anymore. Not when they can access a YouTube stream from any computer, smartphone, tablet, or iPad. Of course, there is still a giant concern about streaming vs. owning — but that's whole other debate.

    @ChrisRobley

    • Done With It

      Three quarters of one million doesn’t even make a ripple in the context of the billions YouTube makes off free content.

      Is it better than nothing? Yes. But it remains basically nothing.

    • Sunshine Bose

      I have monetized videos. I write my music ,own all publishing rights and copyright to my work and on several occasions you tube will ask you to prove ownership. Imagine my shock one day when they totally removed monetizing for a song I wrote and have copyright for saying it’s not mine! Its like taking your picture ,giving it to someone and then you are told, that’s not your picture! I’m like are you people kidding me! I’m on there as praise2life so if Christopher Robley can sort the matter out. I have even earlier versions of the same song before I released it in an album .That being said, You tube has helped my music that I can’t deny but the headaches are oh boy!

  • Thanks, P.

    @ChrisRobley

  • Sure thing. And if you're shopping around, Final Cut Pro X has a free 30 day trial.

    @ChrisRobley

  • Well, from a bunch of bands who've done it right, that seems to be the secret. I've heard a number of artists say that consistency is key on YouTube, and that things didn't really start to feel like they were building until 6 months had passed.

    @ChrisRobley

    • Rumblefish is Youtube’s monetizing partner and takes 50%. That is simply too much. Audiam just launched and is taking 25%. That is better, but still too much. I wish Youtube would eliminate the leach middlemen and let us go direct. We’re all direct with Paypal and Ebay and Amazon, no reason we shouldn’t be going direct to Youtube.

  • nevilleelder

    I think you're right about a lot of this but.."but amongst the younger demographic (18-) it’s also become THE preferred platform for listening to music." Define younger demographic please.. and where is this data? This is the first I've heard of it
    Neville

  • Brian

    Youtube used to be the ish, but now it’s so saturated and corporate, you would have to cough up some money in making advertisements to get the videos ranked higher. And most of those people you mentioned who got famous, one or two of them used offline readers and bots to increase their views against the Terms of Service. This was mentioned in a popular, or notorious, website forum. Back in the early days of Youtube, if someone boosted their views, it ranked higher, but now Youtube’s algorithm has detected proxies and bots, they would automatically remove your video if they detect unusual traffic on your video. Good luck!

  • Michael

    When I think of Youtube, I think of guys like Peter Hollens and Smooth McGroove, Mike Tompkins and ThePianoGuys. Without Youtube, we'd be without great music. Also, Youtube has practically resurrected the Barbershop Harmony Society and created new younger-generation interest in this musical style. Yesterday, out of the blue, a larger community church contacted me because of a Christian song my wife and I wrote and uploaded to our music channel last year. They want to play it for their congregation on Sunday. I'm slowly building our audience, but Youtube's all about being good at content creation and getting your stuff out there. Its worth the time and energy of doing it. Christmastime? Think of Straight No Chaser. Got famous on Youtube.

  • YouTube does currently allow you to monetize the videos in your own channel, but you cannot monetize yours songs across YouTube by yourself. For that, you do need a middleman — as YouTube is not interested at this time in working with individuals to monetize content across channels.

    One thing that's worth noting, as a member of CD Baby's YouTube monetization, we'll upload all the songs you've opted in for sync-licensing to our Indie [Music] Network on YouTube (along with album artwork). Through that network you'll earn more money per ad than you do through your own direct monetization, or through other videos in the YouTube universe that use your music.

    @ChrisRobley

    • Thanks. i’ll check out that network. The question then becomes, will participation in the network more than offset the increased percentage taken by Rumblefish vs. Audiam? Who knows? Youtube is not very transparent.

  • Pingback: It's Not Just About YOUR YouTube Channel: Why It's Important to Monetize Your Songs Too « DIY Musician Blog DIY Musician Blog()

  • Allen D

    Our monetized music videos only earn 20% of what it costs to promote the videos from shared advertising revenue. That reduces what it cost to have the video seen a lot of times. This would be great if viewers bought the tracks they like on YouTube but they don’t, not even when they give the video a thumbs up and leave positive comments. Also, I think you’re assuming that your artists are all adolescent garage bands performing original music, which entitles them to performance royalties. But the single we have breaking out on the radio charts is a house music rendition of a standard (a cover record). So, we don’t get any ASCAP royalties but the advantage of a cover record is that you know going in that the song is a hit, more than you can say for the vast majority of original songs.

  • For indie YouTube only matters if the video will go viral (like OK Go) and that’s very, very unlikely. If you’re not on a label and the video is not promoted, few people will see it, so it’s a wasted time and resource. It might be different if you already have a decent following of course, but if you don’t – put your money elsewhere. I actually make videos for my band, because I like to be a filmmaker and they expand my art, but I think their impact is near zero. Here are two of my videos, so you can judge if I know how to do them (music: hard rock).
    Splendid Isolation
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ghPMBUJmnXs
    (Also Sprach) Franky
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Djr3VDiQkTA

  • Your hot music

    You tube , soundcloud and spotify are the perfect platform to get your songs ripped for free -you tube is the best platform but they should block rippers somehow

    • That Guy Who Goes There

      Avoid that by making only certain songs available, or shortened YT-only edits … if someone wants more, or the longer version, they can then pay for it.

  • James DeBorde

    Youtube is an incredible tool for promotion and discovery, and lots of fun…but streaming is killing music as a business, not enhancing it. Consumers are getting the milk for free.

  • rickrayband

    Youtube is a good vehicle to get your music to people…as for the monetizing…it’s just another word for advertisement. Not into it. Most all advertisements and the products behind them are worthless. I do not want my music associated with someone’s product.

  • Arnulf Zeilner

    I started Youtube in December to reach the German market (as i live in Austria wich is really small). More than 50% of my clicks are from Germany now and some people also supported the crowdfunding for my first solo CD. I think youtube is great!

  • D. Rose in the paint

    Not true at all!!!!!! I did an EP last summer…I put the album on Youtube, and made a commercial for the album. I uploaded the album on Bandcamp for FREE with an option to pay. I made money consistently from Bandcamp via the traffic from the youtube commercial and album i uploaded, so much I was in the top 10 sellers list for 2 months. I left Bandcamp links on my youtube page's description box. You have a higher chance of making money if you create an album and not just single songs…..because people want WHOLE projects for ownership in their Ipods….I guess its a collector mindframe.

  • D. Rose in the paint

    Not true I released an EP last summer…I put the album on
    Y-o-u-tube, and made a commercial for the album. I uploaded the album on
    B-a-nd camp for FREE with an option to pay. I made money consistently from
    B-a-nd camp via the traffic from the youtube commercial and album i
    uploaded, so much I was in the top 10 sellers list for 2 months. I left
    B-a-nd camp links on my youtube page's description box. You have a higher
    chance of making money if you create an album and not just single
    songs…..because people want WHOLE projects for ownership in their
    Ipods….I guess its a collector mindframe.

  • PJ FuzzySoulTiger

    4 to 5 years ago, YouTube definetly felt like a great place to be seen & heard as I discovered through my “MoonwalkerPJ” channel where I was getting my feet wet singing a lot of cover tunes. Shortly afterwards, I began my “FuzzySoulTiger” channel where my Earthquake Song of Hope video was a breakthrough that helped me garner partnership in the Music category.
    These days, especially after they partnered with Google, the landscape is very different. Without putting any paid advertisement behind your videos, all the hard effort, creativity & passion you put into making your music video receives very little chance of success after posting them because nowadays all the free sharing, e-mailing and promoting I’ve done isn’t helping my videos get exposure to get over 200 views…most days I’m lucky if I can even make 100 views.
    Add to mix when VEVO came onto the scene and it is virtually impossible to crack their music countdown if you’re an unsigned artist. Even when shortly before VEVO was there, YouTube had a music spotlight artist of the week kind of thing but it that also seemed like a needle in a haystack chance of getting noticed because you needed to have a certain level of popularity to be acknowledged. I’m an unknown artist trying to get noticed. I thought that was supposed to be goal of such a concept in the first place? Give people like me a spotlight so we can get some much needed exposure!
    I plan to come back in later September with a new youtube music channel because I still have faith it can all work out but I had to step away for all the frustration & disappointment of seeing my videos go nowhere after all the sacrifices I put into making them which, you can imagine, doesn’t make me feel confident that YouTube is the place for unsigned artists like myself.

  • Will

    I think you are overselling youtube actually. This article would have been much more relevant a few years ago. As someone who's had a degree of decent exposure on youtube through making remixes (3 million video hits overall) I can say that a few years ago, anyone could become well known on youtube. After 2010 tho, my new videos stopped getting views, it was a gradual process. The only way to get something popular now is to do something relevent. Say… a youtube video about game of thrones when Season 4 is a week away from release. Its VERY hard to get anything remotely successful on youtube and you have to be smart about it if you want to stand a chance. Yes Youtube is probably all these things you say it is, but think about how much music is on youtube these days. For every successful music video, there are 1000 videos with like… 50 views or something, because youtube is no longer about the individual. Its about corporations, VEVO, Record Labels, "offical youtube" channels of already famous musicians. Youtube has become a tool that the higher ups use to control what people listen to now.

  • Torq Deband

    Just how long before 200k are we talking about? And how much per 1000 plays? One, .half a cent?It doesn't really rate, if you've got a million hits, its not your earnings on youtube you will be happy about. {Promotion yes}

    • Ad-share payments are not based on total plays OR individual plays, they're based on clicks (for the ads). If you're in CD Baby's YouTube monetization program, YouTube will ID your content, serve up ads on any video in the YouTube universe that uses your music, and pay you whenever someone clicks on one of those ads. So someone could upload a silly cat video with your song in the background. Even if they've only got 3 views for that video, an ad will appear, and any time someone clicks on the ad — you get paid.

      @ChrisRobley

  • Hey Chuck,

    Yes. Our network will 1) pay more through higher ad rates and better percentage 2) leverage all the views and subscribers to your benefit 3) help other people find your music.

    @ChrisRobley

  • Christian Andersson

    Something worth mentioning about monetizing money from YouTube and ContentID system.
    I’ve been in the system. Had about 100 tracks there at Rumblefish. 1st quarter, I made $1. 2nd quarter, $99. 3rd quarter, about $350. Someone said a well established artist made $34 from millions of plays… seem like that artist had a bad deal..? I would call myself a very much an unknown indie artist.

    But I decided to leave the YouTube content ID system anyway. See below.

    My business case is probably different than many other indie music producers. My foremost business case is licensing music. For artists producing music for end-users, trying to reach a broad audience, the YouTube Content ID system may work out very well.

    My foremost reasons for not being in the YouTube Content ID system:
    – Complaints from licensing customers – it damages my brand.
    -The fact that it is forbidden at several music libraries, in particularthose where I am right now making good money from and where I have spent enourmous amounts of time to upload, tag and describe tracks. Termination from those sites would be disastrous.
    – The risk of getting blacklisted at certain customer communities. There are already a
    thing called “whitelists” at some sites where composers that are not in the YouTube Content ID system can sign up. It seems to boost their sales.
    – Couple of days ago, I also got a taste of what it feels like when YouTube sends a message that someone else own the rights for publication of material (in this case, my own music!). In this process (I don’t know if you have been there), there is an uneasy feeling of threat from YouTube that, if I don’t have good enough reasons for claiming my right to use the material, they will close my account. Of course, I knew that I had the right in this case, but I know for sure, from customer complaints, that this has scared several of my paying customers.

    After having problems with YouTube Content ID system from several non-exclusive licensing companies that submitted my music into the system without notifying me (namely: Rumblefish, Playtunes, Triple Scoop Music), all who submitted my material into the Content ID system without asking or even notifying me and without stating anything about this in their contracts at the time of signing (maybe these companies have changed their policies now?), I have decided to keep out of this system completely for the time being. Once notified on my concerns, these companies co-operated very well (thank you!) and helped me remove the music, so it was mainly the action of submitting my music there without notification that I very much dislike. I immediately requested a contract termination, because it ruined my trust in them as reliable partners.

    So for the time being, I have decided to stay outside the system, no matter the policy of the current Content ID administrator.

    Best Regards
    /Christian

  • Clark Colborn

    Chris, can you explain your reply above in more detail? What exactly do you mean that I cannot monetize my songs across YT by myself? And what exactly are the differences in revenue per ad if I go through CD Baby rather than direct monetization? Thanks for elaborating.

    • Hi Clark,

      Yes — so, there's a difference between monetizing songs and monetizing videos. You can monetize your videos in your own YouTube channel by yourself. You just click a checkbox and sign an online form, and presto! YouTube will put ads on your own videos.

      BUT… they're not analyzing the audio content and going out to collect money from the usage of your music on other peoples' videos. And they don't offer that service to individuals. That is where CD Baby's YouTube Monetization program comes in. We work with YouTube so they will sonically "fingerprint" your songs, find them ANYWHERE on YouTube (even if its just 30 seconds playing in the background of a cat video), post ads on those videos, and pay you a share of any revenue generated.

      As for the difference in revenue — it's difficult to say, because YouTube ad rates change based on a bunch of factors and you could be paid different amounts on different days for two ads on the same video (its pretty much the same as Google Ads where advertisers bid), but there are a few considerations:

      1) CD Baby does keep a percentage of the ad revenue collected through our program. That means for videos in your own channel, you'd be making less than you normally would through directly monetizing them (which you're still free to do, of course; just dispute the "rights" claim for those videos in your channel.)

      2) The big advantage to our program is that all of a sudden you have access to ad revenue for ANY video on YouTube that uses your music, revenue you could not otherwise collect on your own.

      3) And there are instances where that means you'll earn far MORE than you would through an ad clicked on a video in your own channel. The primary example is CD Baby's Indie Music Network. We are managing a series of genre-specific YouTube channels where all your music will be featured (along with album artwork and artist/album/song title). We upload it for you, put an ad on those videos, and when someone clicks on an ad you'll earn way more than the usual ad-share % for a "normal" out-of-network video, because YouTube charges advertisers a lot more to advertise on YouTube networks.

      Hopefully that info helps. Please let me know if you have any other questions.

      @ChrisRobley

  • Sorry you're getting YouTube headaches. If you'd like to continue monetizing the videos in your channel directly, just dispute the rights claim.

    @ChrisRobley

    • Sunshine Bose

      Hi chris , I can’t seem to find a link to dispute this. The video is ‘ it’s only you’ posted 2009 by praise2life. Would be grateful for the help. Just robs me the wrong way that my work would be said not to be mine! Shock is putting it mildly

  • Does your system allow it's members to review a video found to be using their music first before choosing to monetize or does it happen automatically?

  • Hey there,

    Yes indeed. I think we'll have 22 altogether. And always the possibility for more!

    @ChrisRobley

  • I'm going to have someone on our artist support team give you a call to get this resolved.

    @ChrisRobley

    • Sunshine Bose

      I thank you

  • Brigid Mhairi

    I have been considering this since this came through on my email, and while I agree, I also see that the trend is beginning to swing downward. I used to have a couple of thousands more subscribers and I used to get a lot of interaction on my YouTube channel back in the day and I never did anything different from what I am doing now.

    Yes, YouTube is still THE place to source “free” music, live performance coverage (often not available for download by the musicians for the obvious reason that it was recorded, usually illegally, by a fan in concert) and to search versions. Heck- I use it like that all the time! So- if you want to be seen for free- go for it. 🙂 I do!

    But the days (2006/2007) of Esmee Denters, Miaa Rose and Justin Bieber are no more- it is WAY harder now to make it and to be recognised. I have a friend who was signed by being discovered on YouTube as recently as about three years ago and who enjoys a huge following as a result but that is the exception, not the rule.

    I use it now as a depository for my videos so that those who hear me live (my first love) can follow up and see what else I do. But I have gone from having 200+ videos down to less than 50 just because I feel that people don’t ENGAGE with you at YouTube like they used to, they merely browse and too many videos tire them out.

    As for making money- I have tried monetising my videos but am not prepared to take the risk of getting an account to cash in because of the click-bombing risks etc. Besides like someone else mentioned- it is a bit soul-destroying when you monetise, YouTube ask for proof of ownership and you supply it only to be told that you are, essentially, a liar. And that has nothing to do with Rumblefish/CD Baby by the way- that is YouTube’s own system. I know because my mum is on the inside as it were. 😉 Maybe if Rumblefish would claim the videos after all? Though- they don’t get all with Content ID anyway. 🙂

  • Vlad Irimia

    I fully concur with what the article is saying, especially since my group’s channel grew to 150 million views and almost 300k subscribers in 3 years since setup, all natural and organic, no artificial inflation or even investing money in promotion. We only invested in the quality of the content. And that with a language limited target population of 22 million people.

    I would elaborate on how we got here, but it’s a long story and I don’t know how many of you guys will find it relevant or even read it. LOL

    But, if it’s not too much, I’ll comment on some of the comments.

    @disqus_lPPuTCEbeJ:disqus : “You’re dreaming….with youtube to mp3 converters so called ‘fans’ are
    not buying music, they’re ripping it for free from youtube.” Raine, they’re getting it for free anyway if they want to… Experts say that 95% of the content flowing on the internet is illegal, so for us it was simply a “fight the wave or ride the wave” situation because in our market (Romania, BIG copyright problems) music doesn’t sell at all anymore, anyway. At this time it’s too easy to get it for free with no following legal consequences.

    @raine: “bands don’t starting monetizing until they’ve gotten more than 200,000 plays and even then the revenue earned is peanuts….” Actually, these days the view count is only relevant for MCNs (multi channel networks) and even those entities have very low view threshholds for possible partners. But right now, if your channel is set up in one of YouTube’s eligible partner program country list, you are a YouTube partner and enabled to monetize from start. As for the CPM (cost per mille, YouTube’s earnings measurement unit), our channel is earning a medium of $1.5 per 1000 views at 4 months since YouTube Romania (thus the direct partner program for Romanian channels) was launched and we’re good with it. I know that the CPM can get much bigger right now in more established markets and it’s estimated that the CPM will rise globally to be 3 or 4 times higher in the next 4 years. From the ad revenue, Google takes 45%, we, as creators and owners of the content, get the rest.

    @douchenozzlehipsterfail:disqus Have you heard of “YouTube parties”?… LOL These are parties where teenagers and generally young people go and there’s no DJ, YT playlists supply the musical background and there are a lot of those happening in Romania and all over the world, actually. Would be very frustrating for those guys to not have full tracks… And, again, if they want to get your music for free, it’s only 2 clicks away for most of them. We’ve put most of our material on our channel, full LPs (except for a few very old ones, we’re saving those for later), singles, everything. Our YouTube channel has become THE go-to destination for anyone who wants to listen to (almost) all our music.

    @disqus_ON5Zr9EDGJ:disqus “After 2010 tho, my new videos stopped getting views, it was a gradual
    process. The only way to get something popular now is to do something
    relevent.” It was always about relevant content. The word “consistency” was mentioned a few times and it’s the truth, it’s the only way to achieve success on YouTube, but that is also true for any other kind of medium. And there’s a LOT more content on YouTube now compared to a few years ago. And no one can say it was easy to maintain success on YT, imagine that I personally removed 10k+ unauthorized user uploaded videos worth about 200 million views manually, with YT’s DMCA form. That’s hard on the hands, the mind and the soul… LOL

    @brigidmhairi:disqus “I used to have a couple of thousands more subscribers and I used to
    get a lot of interaction on my YouTube channel back in the day and I
    never did anything different from what I am doing now.” There’s the mistake. You have to adapt, EVERYTHING changed on YouTube a few times since the platform’s launch and you cannot expect the same results you had a few years ago by doing the same thing. As I said, just the fact that there’s a lot more content available should change your approach.

    What I’m trying to say is that it’s not easy, but YouTube has become a viable way for big and small independent artists to monetize content. Although our example is that of a big group with a huge offline following which at a certain moment (pretty late in the game) became independent and put all it’s guns exclusively on YouTube and online presence, I can give a lot of examples of young, independent Romanian and international artists who found success on YouTube from scratch, just by making great music and videos and engaging their fans on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. In some (not few) of the cases those fans come to shows and buy music and merchandise too. And remeber what the article says, even if some studies say that Spotify or Pandora are the best music discovery platforms out there, it’s YouTube where it’s at for the young and not so young when it comes to searching for music and I’ve seen that with my own eyes every day for the last 5 or 6 years. What most don’t take into account is the fact that YouTube is now popular culture, I don’t know what the situation is in your countries, but in Romania there’s been no prime time news program without at least 2 YouTube videos inserted with “Source: youtube.com” on them in that period of time. Spotify, Pandora or anything else available online cannot compete with that, there’s no amount of money in the world that can beat that kind of continuous offline exposure of the platform. Only Facebook and Twitter come close in some territories in regard to that.

    So, please, keep at it! 🙂 Congrats to @bookbaby:disqus for the piece!

    Vlad “Tataee” Irimia

    Co-founder/songwriter/exclusive music & video producer/manager and other cool and no so cool sounding stuff for B.U.G. Mafia

  • Vlad Irimia

    I fully concur with what the article is saying, especially since my
    group’s channel grew to 150 million views and almost 300k subscribers in
    3 years since setup with a language limited target population of 22
    million people, all natural and organic, no artificial inflation
    or even investing money in promotion. We only invested in the quality of
    the content and promoted it on our own site, Facebook page and Twitter account..

    I would elaborate on how we got here, but it’s a
    long story and I don’t know how many of you guys will find it relevant
    or even read it. LOL

    But I’d like to comment on some of the comments.

    @disqus_lPPuTCEbeJ:disqus:
    “You’re dreaming….with youtube to mp3 converters so called ‘fans’ are

    not buying music, they’re ripping it for free from youtube.” Raine,
    they’re getting it for free anyway if they want to… Experts say that
    95% of the content flowing on the internet is illegal, so for us it was
    simply a “fight the wave or ride the wave” situation because in our
    market (Romania, BIG copyright problems) music doesn’t sell at all
    anymore, anyway. At this time it’s too easy to get it for free with no
    following legal consequences.

    @raine: “bands don’t starting
    monetizing until they’ve gotten more than 200,000 plays and even then
    the revenue earned is peanuts….” Actually, these days the view count
    is only relevant for some MCNs (multi channel networks) and even those
    entities have very low view threshholds for possible partners. But right
    now, if your channel is set up in one of YouTube’s eligible partner
    program country list, you are a YouTube partner and enabled to monetize
    from start. As for the CPM (cost per mille, YouTube’s earnings
    measurement unit), our channel is earning a medium of $1.5 per 1000
    views at 4 months since YouTube Romania (thus the direct partner program
    for Romanian channels) was launched and we’re good with it. I know that
    the CPM can get much bigger right now in more established markets and
    it’s estimated that the CPM will rise globally to be 3 or 4 times higher
    in the next 4 years. From the ad revenue, Google takes 45%, we, as
    creators and owners of the content, get the rest 55%. We also get about 6% from Google’s percentage too, because they pay the Romanian copyright collecting association for the copyrights of our songs and we own all our publishing.

    @douchenozzlehipsterfail:disqus:
    “Don’t put everything you have on YT, just a selection … or short
    previews rather than the entirety of songs. Enough to give listeners a
    taste without giving away the store.” Have you heard of “YouTube parties”?… LOL These are parties where
    teenagers and generally young people go and there’s no DJ, YT playlists
    supply the musical background and there are a lot of those happening in
    Romania and all over the world, actually. Would be very frustrating for
    those guys to not have full tracks… And, again, if they want to get
    your music for free, it’s only 2 clicks away for most of them. We’ve put
    most of our material on our channel, full LPs (except for a few very
    old ones, we’re saving those for later), singles, everything. Our
    YouTube channel has become THE go-to destination for anyone who wants to
    listen to (almost) all our music.

    @disqus_ON5Zr9EDGJ:disqus: “After 2010 tho, my new videos stopped getting views, it was a gradual
    process. The only way to get something popular now is to do something
    relevent.” It was always about relevant and great content. The word “consistency”
    was mentioned a few times and it’s the truth, it’s the only way to
    achieve success on YouTube, but that is also true for any other kind of
    medium. And there’s a LOT more content on YouTube now compared to a few
    years ago. And no one can say it was easy to maintain success on YT,
    imagine that I personally removed 10k+ unauthorized user uploaded videos
    worth about 200 million views manually, with YT’s DMCA form. That’s
    hard on the hands, the mind and the soul… LOL

    @brigidmhairi:disqus:
    “I used to have a couple of thousands more subscribers and I used to
    get a lot of interaction on my YouTube channel back in the day and I
    never did anything different from what I am doing now.” There’s the
    mistake. You have to adapt, EVERYTHING changed on YouTube a few times
    since the platform’s launch and you cannot expect the same results you
    had a few years ago by doing the same thing. As I said, just the fact
    that there’s a lot more content available should change your approach and strategy.

    What
    I’m trying to say is that it’s not easy, but YouTube has become a
    viable way for big and small independent artists to monetize content.
    Although our example is that of a big group with a huge offline
    following which at a certain moment (pretty late in the game) became
    independent and put all it’s guns exclusively on YouTube and online
    presence, I can give a lot of examples of young, independent Romanian
    and international artists who found success on YouTube from scratch,
    just by making great music and videos and engaging their fans on
    YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. In some (not few) of the cases those fans
    come to shows and buy music and merchandise too. And remeber what the
    article says, even if some studies say that Spotify or Pandora are the
    best music discovery platforms out there, it’s YouTube where it’s at for
    the young and not so young when it comes to searching for music and
    I’ve seen that with my own eyes every day for the last 5 or 6 years.
    What most don’t take into account is the fact that YouTube is now
    popular culture, I don’t know what the situation is in your countries,
    but in Romania there’s been no prime time news program without at least 2
    YouTube videos inserted with “Source: YouTube” on them in that
    period of time. Spotify, Pandora or anything else available online
    cannot compete with that, there’s no amount of money in the world that
    can beat that kind of continuous offline exposure of the platform. Only
    Facebook and Twitter come close in some territories in regard to that.

    So, please, keep at it! 🙂 Congrats to @bookbaby:disqus for the piece!

    Vlad “Tataee” Irimia

    Co-founder/songwriter/
    exclusive music & video producer/manager and other cool and no so cool sounding stuff for B.U.G. Mafia

  • Hey Vlad, thanks so much for all your detailed responses in this comment. Sounds like y'all have had some great success on YouTube (partially out of necessity, I assume, due to lack of viable music retail solutions in your country). Would you have any interest in writing a guest post for this blog that talks about some of your experience, strategy, how you shifted as the YouTube tools changed, and… well, anything else that would be valuable for musicians to know when they begin promoting themselves on YouTube? We could link to your music and potentially feature the post in one of our emails. If you're interested, lemme know here and I'll send you my email address.

    @ChrisRobley

    • Vlad Irimia

      Hey, Chris, thank you too for the kind words, it’s nice to be appreciated by someone who gets what our experience means. It would be my pleasure because I would’ve payed anything 2 years ago for viable info on YouTube and it was impossible to find. I really wanna help other YTers, so, if my very detailed writing (LOL) is not an issue, let’s do it. You’re a social media guy, you’ll find me very quick.

      PS: we did a lot of other non YT crazy stuff, like giving away our last LP on our website in 2011 with a Windows desktop flash app in the form of a 1MB .exe file (still available, beautiful thing… LOL) and getting in return 150k registered users in 90 days, so maybe you guys wanna do a series on my music artist management ideas… LOL

  • This is so true

  • Awesome. Thanks. I think it'll be very useful for CD Baby artists who are on YouTube. Just sent you an email with my contact.

    @ChrisRobley

  • Pingback: YouTube Music Success Story: A Capella Science « DIY Musician Blog DIY Musician Blog()

  • Kevin Winn

    Please take a min to check out the brand NEW video by BIG RUSH Ft. Dubbz titled Don't cry for me. This is some real hiphop coming out of New England. Check it out, like it, share it, leave some feedback.
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=f9TMO-NgQxI

    Thanks for the support!

  • Montreea

    For every 1 artist discovered on YouTube, there are thousands that won't get discovered. It's similar to plying the lottery. New technology is great but old fashioned hard work is key.

  • Mike Osborn

    you make a good point that youtube is really popular among younger demographic but what if your fanbase is not the younger demographic? Just how effective is it then?

  • Callie

    This is true. You kind of need to have somewhat of an audience already to find success on youtube. There is no way to post great content on youtube and hope that it will find an audience. You could start by heavily marketing your youtube channel to your existing local audience. Just be sure that when they visit your channel, they have a way to connect with you. Give them a sense that their subscription, comments, and shares are doing something huge for your success, and give them a reason to come back for more. It can slowly build from there if you give them something to be excited about.
    Also, youtube is utterly USELESS to you if you don't post videos CONSISTENTLY. Like each week. If you put something amazing up and people come and subscribe, then there's nothing for a few months, they will forget about you very quickly.

  • Hi Callie,

    Appreciate you sharing the details about how you've used YouTube in your music career. It's great for other artists to hear this kind of stuff. Glad to hear you're keeping your audience active in supporting you.

    @ Chris Robley

  • peter

    YouTube is great but the key to a successful career is to get exposure on a wide array of platforms such as Soundcloud, Damnshane, spotify etc.

  • Youtube is the place to be, i mean everyone is watching youtube all day everyday.

  • Moses

    @disqus_lPPuTCEbeJ:disqus I think YouTube is very aware of the mp3 conversion you were talking about, and they’re working hard in curbing some of this activities and YouTube is not about music alone. It cut across different types of contents. And for the monetization, i think you’re wrong. If people are not making money on it, why do some people make it their day-to-day job( just uploading stuffs). Like comedy, series, musics, cartoons, science, education, search…. Bro, stop leaving in the past. YouTube is a world on its own. If one content can attract more than 2billion people (more than the whole population of Africa), and you’re paid (assumed) $ 0.50 to $ 1 per 100 views, do the math… A project that won’t cost you a dime and still guarantees earnings even if it’s peanut as you’ve said,
    deserves some kudos!

  • HC Duran

    I agree with the cutting edge marketing concept of using the web to get exposure for the music. The point is not to rely on online views to receive online sales, but to get those views in order to get more OFFline sales, via the massive buzz generating potential of the medium. This viral aspect can replace the traditional role of the record labels in promoting artists. Music artist management (by third party firms) would still needed to handle the publishing and distribution issues, as well as the publicity once generated.

    http://www.eastnymanagement.net/uncategorized/music-artist-management-music-industry-management-that-rocks/
    http://career-management-options.blogspot.com/2015/01/benefits-of-hiring-artists-management.html

  • Naaz Charania

    I just love You Tube, and the e.mails they send me are terrific. Thanks Google and U Tube