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

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.