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By Lucy Blair & Caroline Bottomley at Radar Music Videos.

Devising A Content Strategy For YouTube

It’s an inescapable fact that YouTube is now the world’s largest music streaming site, and also its second biggest search engine.

As YouTube continues to mature as a content platform and revenue stream, it’s more important than ever for record labels and artists to have a solid content strategy in place for their YouTube content.

YouTube Content Strategy

“YouTube logo” by Rego Korosi via Creative Commons

But with over 100 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, how do you optimise content creation and make sure your content stands out? We speak to key music industry figures at record labels and MCNs to put together a two-part best practice guide to devising a content strategy for anyone in the music industry working with YouTube.

Part One

  • What’s Possible on YouTube?
  • Developing A Strategy
  • Content Checklist

Part Two

  • Content Scheduling
  • Content and Channel Optimisation
  • Collaborations
  • Measures of Success

PART ONE

What’s Possible on YouTube? Your first step is to identify your target audience and what you want to achieve on the platform. Building subscribers is the foundation for success, whatever you decide success will be. Jeremy Rosen, The Orchard’s Director of Audience Development, outlines the possibilities:

“Ultimately, building a successful channel gives the artist or label a large marketing platform. It can be a creative outlet, a good way to connect with fans visually, a place to test out material, and even a primary revenue source. As tools like Google+ integration mature, I estimate it will also become an important direct-to-consumer hub for artists.”

That direct connection to fans and the increasing importance of streaming music represent the main opportunities for Laura Bruneau, Anjunabeats’ Label Executive:

“YouTube is one of the main platforms where consumers stream music, especially younger audiences. Having a great content strategy means more people will find your music, play your music, and hopefully buy your music. And while they’re streaming they’re earning you revenue too. With the boom of streaming in 2014 with Spotify, Beats Music, iTunes Radio and of course YouTube Music, this is a key platform you can’t afford to ignore.”

So, marketing possibilities on YouTube relate to:

  • Discovery
  • Revenue
  • Cross-promotion
  • Up-selling / creating a D2C sales hub
  • Artist creativity
  • Fan relationships
  • Developing A Strategy

To develop a content strategy, work on tying in your on-YouTube goals to your off-YouTube goals.

Artists and labels will naturally need to focus on creating different kinds of content, according to Jon Baltz, INDMusic’s co-founder and Vice President:

“An artist that is about to go on tour should release videos that further their tour, reminding the audience where they will be and when they will be there. A label on the other hand is juggling release schedules for several artists and tours. The label should be producing art tracks (videos with still image and audio), lyric videos, and official music videos, with a focus on upcoming releases.”

Should established and new artists create different kinds of content on YouTube? Yes, according to Laura Bruneau:

“The most important distinction between an established artist and a new artist is the size of their current audience. If you have an established artist with a big audience, you can focus on creating more ambitious and interactive YouTube experiences. For example, live-streaming or Google+ Hangouts On Air are examples of content that I would recommend more for established artists than a new artist, as you know you have sufficient numbers for your audience to be engaged in a live event. For a new artist, you need to build their personality on the channel alongside their brand. A good way to do this is to create a fan-led, pre-recorded interview series like our ‘Tea With Anjuna’ series, where fans are encouraged to send in questions for the artist via social media in the run-up to filming, and then the questions are posed to the artist on camera. That way, you’re ensuring that the questions asked are what people really want to know about and it makes your audience feel involved. Interviews are also a great way for artists to put across their personalities in a relaxed and enjoyable environment and plug (in a non-salesy way) what they’ve got coming up.”

Content Checklist

What kind of content do you want to create? The possibilities are endless. Content types span:

  • Documentary: self-shooting, artist POV mobile footage, interviews / pieces to camera
  • Live: gigs / rehearsal footage
  • Promo: lyric videos and full blown promos

Here’s a checklist of content that artists and labels should and could be creating and curating on a regular basis: 

  • Official music videos / release videos
  • Audio uploads of music with a static visual (aka ‘art videos’)
  • Live performances
  • Lyric videos
  • Behind the scenes (which could be anything from a ‘day in the life of’ to a tour video diary or the making of your latest music video)
  • Covers
  • Breaking news announcements (e.g. a new album/single/tour, or a big milestone)
  • Tutorials
  • Interviews including fan led
  • Video press kits promoting your latest album/single/tour
  • Playlists
  • Fan-generated videos
  • Competitions
  • Google+ Hangouts on Air
  • Live-streaming (archive-able streaming may be necessary across different timezones)
  • Episodic events

Cost and complexity range from free and easy to expensive and professional. As Jon Baltz says, “Not every video has to be an official music video with a big budget; syncing your music to what you film with your smartphone out of a train window can be just as effective.”

It’s also worth bearing in mind that building engagement doesn’t always mean having to create new content; curating playlists is a great way to mark yourself out as a tastemaker, and will keep your homepage looking fresh and interesting with regular content. Updating your subscriber feed is also key, as Jeremy Rosen advises:

“It’s possible for your subscribers to see when your channel likes, favourites, adds to playlists, or comments. Scheduling this activity to, say, promote a video from a band you’re touring with or a crazy viral video can help keep you at the top of your audience’s mind.”

YouTube Generation

“YouTube Generation” by jonsson       Creative Commons

PART TWO

  • Content Scheduling
  • Content and Channel Optimisation
  • Collaborations
  • Measures of Success

Content Scheduling

The days of aiming to create a one-hit ‘viral’ on YouTube as a marketing strategy are long gone. These days it’s more helpful to think of YouTube as your own TV channel.  Think of content as programming – and not programming for an album cycle, but a 12-month content cycle.

It’s essential to create a programming schedule and produce regular content to drive subscribers, repeat views and watch time, and to give subscribers a reason to return to your channel. As Zac Vibert, Hospital Records’ Head of Digital, puts it:

“If you look at the traditional TV model, scheduling is a big part of it – and YouTube is no different. Have content that viewers can come to expect and look forward to. It is important to have regular content uploads, but also make sure you prioritise quality over quantity!”

Jeremy Rosen advises: “At a minimum, there should be one piece of video content posted to your channel each month. Try to keep it a consistent day of the month, like every third Thursday, and publicise that fact. For a label these would typically be music videos or lyric videos. An individual artist would probably have a short monthly update or Hangout on Air scheduled. You could also consider publishing music on a regular basis or come up with an episodic concept you’ll be able to pull off consistently (like “My Top 5 Listens This Month).”

Laura Bruneau makes an important point about programming unreleased content: “YouTube is a great way to preview unreleased material to your audience – plus your content is monetised and preview content makes it much easier to automatically remove unauthorised 3rd party use of your content. However, it is important to mix up this regular standard content with things like interviews, behind the scenes content and music videos so that your audience does not get bored. I would suggest at least 1 piece of non-release video content per month, or more if you have the time/budget.”

Different types of artist need to cater to their respective audiences when it comes to content programming, according to Jon Baltz: “More established artists have the luxury of being able to widely space out their content because every time they release something people will jump on it. New artists are in the exact opposite situation; they need to be putting out new content constantly, at least once a week.  The goal of releasing videos for a new artist should be growing an audience organically. Producing a viral hit is great, but a viral hit is most valuable when it generates views on older content – that makes fans.”

At Midem, INDMusic also recommended scheduling 6-8 pieces of content to support an ‘activity’ – be it announcing a tour, releasing a single, planning a hangout etc.

Content and channel optimisation

It’s not just about what kind of content you create or how often you upload it; if you don’t optimise your content properly, it won’t get the views or subscribers that you’re aiming for. Remember that YouTube is one giant search engine and, as Zac Vibert advises, “Never underestimate the importance of good data!”

Keywords are the most important factor in making your content easily searchable, so always ensure that your video titles, descriptions, links, annotations, tags and thumbnails are optimised. In addition, use tools like playlisting and in-video programming in order to link your viewers to related content and keep them viewing videos within your channel.

Laura Bruneau points out that monetisation is another key factor: “Other people will be exploiting your catalogue so it’s essential that you are too! Make sure that you have claims set up on your audio so that you are monetising 3rd party content. You might not realise how valuable this is, but the bulk of our YouTube income at Anjuna comes from other people using our songs, rather than our own uploads.”

Collaborations 

Collaborate with your fans: YouTube is one of the most powerful social networks in the world, so focus on building up and engaging your community on YouTube. Tailor your content around the likes/dislikes/needs of your viewers, engage with them and evolve your content strategy accordingly. Consider creating video content to answer the questions/comments of your fans instead of another blog post, tweet or Facebook post.

Zac Vibert advises: “Make YouTube the central hub for your music/artists, and create a community feel to your channel. If you want to build a good following, try to prioritise your channel and make sure you upload your music to YouTube first.”

Collaborate with your peers: artists and labels should also look into creating collaborations with fellow musicians and music networks in order to reach new audiences and cross-promote content across a wider channel network.  As Jeremy Rosen suggests, “Consider approaching YouTube creators to help you. There may be a vlogger or episodic series on YouTube which fits your fans, your style, or are simply fans themselves. Some of the best videos on YouTube have been collaborations between channels and the value in cross-promotion is a no-brainer. Consider it product placement, with you as the product.”

Measures of success

How will you know if your content strategy is delivering the right results? If you don’t measure it, it’s not marketing. YouTube Analytics gives you a detailed insight into what content is and isn’t helping you achieve your YouTube objectives. Check Analytics regularly and keep an eye on not just numbers of views, but also subscribers, watch time, engagement and so on. You can then adjust your content strategy accordingly.

And as a final note, the YouTube Music Playbook PDF is one of the best guides to the platform that there is, so use it to your advantage.

Time to get creative…your fans are waiting!

Radar is an award-winning network of over 10,000 music video directors worldwide. Radar enables labels, artists and managers to commission great music videos for affordable budgets, between $800 and $8,000.

Radar helps music video directors progress their professional careers. It is a free service for labels, artists and managers. We charge a small subscription fee to directors to access and pitch on briefs.
Radar Music Video

 

Related Reading

YouTube Statistics (YouTube.com)
YouTube Multi-Channel Networks 101 (YouTube.com)
YouTube Creators Hub
PDF-YouTube Playbook Guide:Music (11MB download)
YouTube, BPI and INDMusic talk Online Music Video Strategies (#Midem) (Musically.com)

Music Video Strategies for Promotion

“YouTube logo” by Andrew Perry

Caroline from Radar recently chaired a panel at legendary music industry conference, Midem. Top industry professionals discussed strategies for promoting and making money from your videos and here are some of the top tips they shared:

The importance of YouTube
Having your video on YouTube is essential for musicians:

  • availability (YouTube is the primary search tool for music).
  • shareability (it’s easy to share and embed from YouTube).
  • monetisable streams (YouTube LOVE music videos and encourage partnerships with labels and artists).
  • statistics (radio decisions re playlisting are commonly based on YouTube stats).

How to become a YouTube partner

  • YouTube are making it increasingly easy to become a partner, which means you can earn money from your video views. YouTube Partner Programme
  • Partnership also improves search rankings for videos in your channel.
  • There’s a myth you need to have over 100,000 views to become eligible – not true. YouTube want more quality music content in the partnership scheme, so get registered.

A YouTube Don’t

  • Don’t split views. Upload the video to the artist channel and favourite in the label channel. Favouriting means the video will show up on the label channel, but the views all aggregate on the artist’ copy.

Pros and Cons of Monetised Ads

  • You earn money, versus monetised videos can be less viral – artists and sometimes fans hate ads. Sharing is often the most important metric for a video, above and beyond monetisation.
  • Two kinds of ad: 30 sec pre-roll, very intrusive but high earning and 5 sec skippable banners.
  • Infectious Music don’t run ads for the first two weeks of a new artist’s campaign – they consider ads can be THAT off-putting to fans of new acts.
  • Monetised videos become unavailable to German and Chinese fans, due to lack of licensing agreements in those territories.

The Pros of VEVO

  • The biggest global network dedicated to music visuals.
  • Improved recommendation to viewers – who stay longer and watch more.
  • Higher earnings for partners.
  • They will do special promotion projects with the right partners.
  • They like independent artists, there are many ways for independent artists to get onto VEVO, eg via The Orchard.

The Cons of VEVO

  • You have to upload a new master file, so you’re splitting views across Youtube and VEVO.
  • The ads are the more intrusive type ads.
  • You can’t opt out of ad type, eg you can’t opt out of alcohol ads.
  • VEVO works better for some kinds of artists than others.

Packshot and Lyric Videos

  • It’s useful to have all your tracks on Youtube – if you don’t then someone else will.
  • Packshot videos are quickest and cheapest way to do this. If quality content is important, lyric videos are a good solution.
  • Always service a video when you’re going to radio.

UGC User Generated Content

  • Various responses exist for YouTube partners; Don’t allow, which serves up a stern looking message. Allow but monetise, which takes away some creative control.

Video for Promotion and Discovery

  • Channels such as Balcony TV can deliver an audience, but don’t yet deliver monetisation. Very useful for new artists, where growing a fan base is more relevant than monetising views.

Buying Ads for Promotion and Discovery

  • Link your Google adwords account to your YouTube channel and buy re-targeting ads. This allows you to serve relevant ads to people who have already visited your channel. It can be a highly effective way to build views and channel subscribers.
  • Subscribers are extremely valuable – every time you serve a new video you can send a bespoke message to subscribers’ inboxes. 

The Top Industry Professionals are:
Eric McKay, Business Development VEVO
Connie Meade, Label Manager, Infectious Music
Stephen O’Regan, Founder, Balcony TV
Patrick Ross, Label Services, Kobalt.
Caroline Bottomley is Managing Director of Radar.

The Full Midem Panel Video

Radar is an award-winning, global network connecting independent artists and labels to professional music video directors. Post your brief here: Radar Music Videos.

Many thanks to Caroline Bottomley

Originally posted on Bzzzsocial.com

Timeline-For-Promoting-UK-Single-Release

By Caroline Bottomley, Radar Music Videos.

A lot of promo people we talk to say artists and managers often don’t know what professionals do to promote single releases.

So we asked for help from some real professionals (see credits below).
Then we made up an indie band with an established following and a few previous releases. We made up £5,000 to spend.
Then we wrote this rough guide – enjoy and feel free to add your own tips. 

14 WEEKS OUT FROM RELEASE

* Commission single artwork, even if it’s for download only. Designer £300
* Commission artist photos. Photographer £500

TIP: “Commission nice/weird/cool COLOUR band photos, the brighter the better” David Laurie SiC Records
Start social media engagement. Digital Promotions £500 – £1,000

NOTE: Social media work continues from here up to and after release date.

12 WEEKS OUT FROM RELEASE

* Engage PR £500 – £1,500
* Release advance copies/links to share to monthly press, for review, eg Q, Mojo, Clash, Uncut.

Start with sending out a simple press release announcing the single and put the single into context, eg from an album or a stand-alone track? Will there be associated shows? PR TIP: There are very few print outlets for singles, a couple of dozen really. It’s ALL about online for singles. David Laurie, SiC Records.

NOTE: Press work continues from this point up to and after release date

TIP: “The press release needs to be straightforward and attention-grabbing “artist releases great new song/album” just isn’t enough. What’s your story? What’s special about you/the song/album and why?” Gillian, Million PR and Naked Press.

* Engage Agent 10% of gross
* Engage Radio & Video Plugger £500-£1,500

NOTE: “I would separate Radio & TV costs. Radio Promotions £1000-2000 and TV Plugger £500-1000 per release. They might be able to get it for less, but this is much more realistic of the going rates.” Prudence, Rocket PR

* Commission the official music video, the aim is to create a stand-out, remarkable video. Producer/director (Radar) £2,000

TIP: “The video must be one that compels you to hit SHARE at the end, that is the idea. Not the new Bammers video but the video where the guy turns into a monkey and eats the aeroplane” David Laurie, SiC Records
TIP: “Commission the video now so it can be ready to service at least 6 weeks before release” Prudence, Rocket PR
TIP: “All video people take longer than they say to deliver, so I give at least 2 weeks ahead of my deadline as the actual deadline” David Laurie, SiC Records.

* Create a lyric or packshot video, the point is have this video on the band’s YouTube channel when radio play begins ahead of release date, capturing early views and interest. Producer/director (Radar) or Digital Promotions £0 – £200

8 WEEKS OUT FROM RELEASE

* Track/remix completed.
* Book banner/Facebook/Google advertising. Digital Promotions £500
* Advance copies/links to share released to weekly and daily press, for review. PR
* Release show/s booked. Agent
* Radio promotion begins. Single and album promos are presented to radio producers and presenters with a press release and list of forthcoming live dates. Plugger

TIP: “Almost none of them (radio producers and presenters) listen to albums or anything after the first track on a single promo unless there is some headspinning remix” David Laurie, SiC Records
* Build up support through plays on individual radio shows, working towards playlist consideration. Plugger
* Social media begins to focus on the release campaign. Digital Promotions
* Digital store promotions set up. Digital Promotions

4 – 6 WEEKS OUT FROM RELEASE

* Service video to TV for playlist rotation consideration. Plugger
* Radio playlist consideration. Plugger
* Digital store promotions set up once you have provable ammo from press. Digital Promotions
* Soundcloud stream premiere on a top site followed a day or two later with a blast out to other sites for more embedding, start adding up those NUMBERS to convince radio you are POPULAR. PR

2 WEEKS OUT FROM RELEASE

Securing Music Press

* Secure a video exclusive with a popular music site and general coverage in music media. PR
TIP: “Securing exclusives is PAINFUL and you have to (more or less) only ask one at a time – Pitchfork; Fader; Guardian; Stereogum in that order.

Each one takes at least 24 hrs to get back even if you have a shit hot PR, so running through those top four will take a week and likely they will all pass” David Laurie, SiC Records

* Fan special offers; exclusive tracks, early order discounting etc. Digital Promotions

RELEASE WEEK

* Digital store promotion. Digital Promotions
* Music media coverage. PR
* Paid advertising live. Digital Promotions
* TV rotation. Plugger
* Radio sessions and interviews. Plugger
* Release show. Agent

POST LAUNCH

Post-Launch Promo

* Follow up press campaign to generate further press coverage. PR
* Album and tour news to be associated throughout if appropriate.

NOTE: “It might be an idea to mention that there will be VAT on top of all costs as this seems to come as a surprise to many unsigned acts as they are most likely not VAT registered themselves.” Prudence, Rocket PR

Companies providing these promotion services can be found in Radar’s resources.

This rough guide has been complied with the help of David Laurie at  Something in Construction Records (SiC); Gillian at Million PR & Naked Press**; David Riley at Good Lizard Media**; Prudence at Rocket PR and Caroline Bottomley of Radar Music Videos.

** Willing to advise new artists and labels about promotion strategies.

PS: An important note about paying for services. It’s possible to do just about all these things for free. You do it yourself, get friends to do it, pull in favours. The reason these services are worth paying for is good professionals will do a much quicker and more effective job.

More to the point, people will actually listen to stuff from reputable PRs; press and pluggers are personally connected to press and playlisters; promotions people know which advertising is cost-effective; experienced directors make attractive music videos that get featured on blogs. All that should result in more sales of your single and more tickets sold to your gigs.

Special Thanks to Caroline at Radar Music Video.

This post originally appeared on Bzzzsocial.com

“The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.”

Hunter S Thompson MusicBiz Quote

One of the best and most misused ‘quotes’ about the music industry, allegedly from Hunter S Thompson’s book “Generation of Swine: Tales of Shame and Degradation in the ’80s”

But David Emery at About.com dug around and sourced the correct quote from the book here:

Hunter-S-Thompson-TV Biz Quote

“The TV business is uglier than most things. It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason.”

Thanks David.

Further Reading

Thieves and Pimps (HST Books)

“Where Thieves and Pimps Run Free” (About.com)

Generation of Swine (Google Books)