YouTube monetization and optimization for musicians

The no-no of not knowing.

Everyone gets a little boost from feeling like their channel is doing well, but what are your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs, for short)?

Chances are, the main metrics you’re measuring for success are views and subscribers — and you wouldn’t be wrong.  But what exactly goes into a “view?”

And what aren’t you looking at that could inform how you grow your channel?

YouTube views are the OBVIOUS starter metric

Views are the most basic metric to measure channel success. If a user finds you video and watches it, you get a view. So, the more views you get, the more advertisers will pay to place their ads on that video, the more valuable your videos become.

It’s a good idea to regularly check the view-count for all your videos.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do all your videos get similar views?
  • Do they vary wildly from post to post?
  • What is the most valuable time period for views after you post a video?

Understanding your view counts (and the audience behavior that affect them) can reveal opportunities for more targeted work on your part and can, in turn, lead to more views overall.

Playback and Retention

The most logical thing to do after counting views is to dig deeper into how those views are happening.

Playback and retention are your fist stop for this. These data points will let you know what portions of your videos are being watched most and at what point in your videos viewers are deciding to stop watching.  

Understanding this will allow you to pinpoint the content that your particular viewers find most valuable and what they don’t care enough about to keep watching. Maybe your signature pun midway through a video on frogs isn’t as ribbeting as you thought and you’re actually losing viewers. Taking it out could mean better retention and more valuable overall views.

Furthermore, how many unique views are you receiving? Is it a handful of people watching your videos multiple times, or are they all distinct viewers watching only once. This can be another key indicator of what sort of content you should be tailoring for you audience.


Another way to begin understanding the “HOW” of views is to look into your traffic sources. In other words, how are viewers finding and watching your videos? Are they finding your videos organically on YouTube via search and algorithmic ‘up next’ promoting, through blog embeds, or maybe on social media?

The more you can understand about your viewers habits, the the more you can further tailor your channel offerings to increase traffic and overall views.

The last thing I’d like to mention here is keeping track of what devices your viewers are watching your videos on. If a user only watched your videos on mobile devices, maybe keeping your content graphic and easy to make out on a small screen will mean those users will choose your videos over others on their future bus rides.


Now that you understand your views, let’s talk about Subscribers.

The best way to continue to grow your views is to have return customers (i.e. keep the viewers you already have coming back).

Once a user decides to subscribe to your channel, they will have your content surfaced to them on their personal YouTube dashboard. This promotes return visits, more views, and also can mean your content will be suggested to other users that have similar subscription/viewing habits as your current subscribers.

Also, by understanding who your subscribers are, you can tweak your content to try and attract more of the same. Tailoring is the name of the game!


For our final leg of this descent into the bowels of your channels’ key performance indicators, we come to the viewers themselves. Not just the screen name associated with the subscribers, but who they actually are. For this you must consult your demographics tool.

Understanding your demographic is key not only to what content you create, but also to your overall branding as a channel.

Do you appeal to the North American 30-something? Maybe the Indian pre-teen? Or possibly the elusive South American 40+?

The importance of knowing your demographics cannot be overlooked. Google AdSense knows your demographics and will run ads specifically for them right on top of your videos, so why not capitalize on that and, at the very least, try not to offend them.


Opinions are like belly buttons, everyone’s got one. Unfortunately, those that tend to be most prominent on the internet aren’t always the the most positive, or even real.  

I personally, would be completely fine with never having to read another YouTube comments section for the rest of my days, but I wouldn’t be doing my channel (or my career) any favors.

The comment section is your direct conduit to your viewers. To ignore it is a mistake.

Use it to promote positive communication and engagement.  It’s a place for your viewers and subscribers to feel heard and connected. It’s also a great opportunity to develop grace and tact, which will undoubtedly aid you in all future life endeavors.

Playlist placement

Finally, a quick note on Playlists. If you can, get placed on playlists as much as possible. This can happen for all sorts of reasons (too many to get into here), but the important thing is that it happens. Maybe you can figure out why. Keep an eye on your videos that are placed on playlists!

So to review, learn as much as you can about why your channel is successful. You’re putting so much effort into creating your unique content, why not go just a few steps further and make sure that you’re tailoring it for your audience and get the absolute most value out of every video?

If you don’t know, now you know.