Sites like SquareSpace let you to package any kind of digital files that you want, as well as add in extras that make your media more attractive for fans to buy. Creating music videos is one of the best ways to get exposure for your music. For one thing, YouTube is the number one search engine for music; it’s where the party is. In addition, video is the most viral media there is, and YouTube comes with sharing tools and social media built-in. And most importantly, there are many ways to monetize the videos you create.
Don’t just think of music videos in terms of potential advertising revenue; you can sell your videos direct to fans from digital download stores or platforms such as iTunes. Of course, people can figure out ways to download your videos from YouTube (or other services such as Vevo or Vimeo), but there’s no reason you have to upload the highest-quality versions to your channel. By saving the HD (high-definition) version for online sales, you reserve the ability to sell something better than what your fans can stream for free on YouTube.
Consider following these steps, so you can sell your music videos and create another income stream for yourself:
1. Create two versions of each music video: SD and HD. One version should be SD (standard definition), and should include end cards: extra material after the music video ends with information about where to buy the song and the video. End cards should also include a request for subscriptions and comments, and promotional information about your other videos or materials on YouTube or the web. This ensures that the downloaded version of your video is different from the one that you want your fans to buy. The second version of the video should be HD, and should simply contain the music video—no promotional footage. This is the version you will sell.
2. Upload the SD version of your video with promotional footage to YouTube. Once your HD music videos and digital tracks are available for sale through digital music stores, you can upload the SD version of the video to YouTube. Be sure to add your promotional footage/end cards. Add buy links to the video and digital track to the video description and include spotlight annotations and links within the video. Doing so will help you capture impulse buys for your videos and music.
3. Participate in all of the money-making aspects of YouTube. Make sure to become a YouTube partner to get ad revenue, and upload all of your audio and video to ContentID so that you can make the most money from your videos. See our Electronic Musician article “Five Ways to Make Money on YouTube” at emusician.com to make sure that you’ve covered everything to make the most from your channel.
4. Sell your HD versions of your videos yourself, or use a digital aggregator to sell on iTunes, Amazon, and other video stores. To sell your music videos yourself, use Wordpress plug-ins such as Easy Digital Downloads (wordpress.org/plugins/easy-digital-downloads), services such as Payloads (payloadz.com), or digital storefronts such as SquareSpace (squarespace.com). These allow you to package any kind of digital files that you want, which lets you add in extras that make it more attractive for fans to pay for it.
Once you have enough videos to make a collection (so that you can set a price to make enough to cover the initial conversion costs), sign up with digital aggregators like CDBaby (cdbaby.com) to get your music videos on iTunes, Amazon, and other stores. Prices vary and depend on the length of video you’ll be selling. Also, be sure to carefully follow the formatting requirements as the conversion services charge extra if the original material doesn’t meet their specifications.
5. Make a print-on-demand DVD. You can also make a print-on-demand DVD out of your music videos. Print-on-demand costs nothing up-front, so you can make money on every sale. Also consider adding bonus material, such as behind-the-scenes footage and/or interviews, so the DVD collection offers more than what you’ve released via digital stores or on YouTube. Services that specialize in print-on-demand music videos include Lulu (lulu.com) and CreateSpace (createspace.com).
Finally, remember that you’re not just limited to music video. You can follow these five steps to sell any video material you own, such as live performance video, raw backstage footage, interviews, or any other videos that you shoot. Using this method, you can create a new, additional income stream from your music videos rather than simply releasing them for free on YouTube and other video platforms.
Randy Chertkow and Jason Feehan are authors of The Indie Band Survival Guide (St. Martin’s Griffin), now in its second edition.