YouTube continues to be the number one search engine for music, so many musicians have turned to video to promote themselves. As we outlined in an earlier article (“Five Ways to Make Money on YouTube,” October 2013), music videos can generate significant income—especially when they generate a lot of views. If you’re planning on making a video, try these steps to increase the number of clicks and views of your next creation:
The Epic Battles of Rap History channel boasts more than 11 million subscribers and videos with more than 95 million clicks. Learn how you can increase your own video clicks and boost revenue. 1. MAKE IT COOL TO SHARE
Pete Shukoff (a.k.a. Nice Peter), who’s one half of the brains behind the popular Epic Rap Battles of History satire series (youtube.com/user/ERB), explained that the goal is to make videos that make people look cool for sharing them with their friends. With most (ERB videos clocking in at 50- to 90-million-plus clicks, Skukoff and partner Lloyd Ahlquist a.k.a. EpicLLOYD, are clearly on to a winning formula.) When you change the focus from the content itself to making the person look good for sharing it, your videos can change to cultivate more engagement within the content, by adding questions (such as asking the fans for ideas), themes, over-the-top content, or a style that makes sharing irresistible. For ideas, get inspiration from videos that you’ve shared with your friends (even if they're not music related, since you need imagery for your music video).
2. GIVE YOUR VIDEO A “CLICK ME” TITLE
Clever titles can get your video viewed even if fans don’t know what they’re going to get when they click on it. After all, videos don’t take a lot of time or commitment to try out, so titles that are mysterious, sexy, or hint at controversy get clicked no matter what’s in the video. Test out different video titles with friends before posting to see which one might be the most intriguing. Keep in mind that picking the right title is also important for your blog posts, newsletters, tweets, and other links.
3. ORGANIZE YOUR CHANNEL BY CONTENT
If you are going to be releasing more than just music videos, organize your channel by grouping related content into playlists so viewers can easily find what they are looking for. For instance, create separate playlists for live footage, music videos, behind-the-scenes, and so on. Although you can split different content into separate channels, it’s better to merge all of your subscribers and views into a single channel, because higher numbers help drive new viewers.
4. CROSS-PROMOTE WITH OTHER MUSICIANS AND VIDEO CREATORS.
Collaborate on your music and video projects with other creators (not just musicians!) who have large audiences, to get new viewers. For example, Nice Peter worked with Key & Peele, Snoop Dogg, and Weird Al Yankovic, just to name a few. And if you can find a way to make your videos relevant to websites with large audiences, share them to see if they’ll post them. Also, trade “likes” with other creators since your videos will appear in each of their feeds. And, remember that videos can also be cross-promoted on other blogs, social media, newsletters, or email—don’t just limit yourself to YouTube.
5. ADD A POST-ROLL AFTER THE VIDEO AND ADD A CALL TO ACTION
Don’t just let the video end! You worked hard to get people to watch your videos, so add a post-roll after each one so you can further promote your channel while you still have their attention. Use the post-roll to ask your fans to:
• subscribe to your channel
• like your video
• buy your track or music (link it in your description!)
• share your video with their friends
• watch other videos on your channel
• watch other artists and creators you work with
There’s no need to do all of these, but at a minimum always ask viewers to subscribe so that you can get one-time watchers to catch your next release.
6. USE YOUR SOCIAL NETWORKS TO SHARE AND ANNOUNCE YOUR CONTENT
Video is one of the easiest types of media to share online, and your social networks are the seed that can start getting your video posted, noticed, and re-shared. In your posts, make sure to tell them to check out your video, share it, and like it, to improve your response.
7. PAY TO PROMOTE (IF IT MAKES SENSE)
Advertising isn’t expensive on today’s platforms, and YouTube allows for a few types of paid promotion (youtube.com/yt/playbook/promotion.html). For example, if you meet conditions, you can create a video ad to promote your channel (FanFinder) (support.google.com/youtube/answer/2801888?hl=en). Or you can use Google’s Adwords to promote your video and channel (Adwords for Video, google.com/intl/en/landing/awv/). Other advertising options include Facebook (facebook.com/advertising) and Twitter (business.twitter.com/start-advertising). Make sure to keep an eye on your statistics. They will help you understand which videos fans like, and help you determine if your promotional campaigns are working.
The steps for improving your viewership start before videos are being produced and continue during and after the release. The more you plan in advance for generating views, the easier it is to pull off. Finally, if your video gets popular, don’t forget to modify the video description, discussion, and annotations on it in order to promote your other work. A single success can be used as a launching point for all of your future efforts.
Randy Chertkow and Jason Feehan are authors of The Indie Band Survival Guide (St. Martin’s Griffin), now in its second edition. Check out their new column, “The DIY Advisor,” at emusician.com.