While many artists focus on streaming figures and social media statistics, the importance of YouTube to independent musicians can’t be overlooked. It remains the largest video platform on the internet, with billions of active users using it daily. For emerging musicians looking to extend their reach, there are few better ways to connect with existing listeners and nurture a growing fanbase.
However, it’s not enough to simply have a YouTube for Artists account. More than 3.7 million videos are uploaded to the platform every day. While only a fraction of these are from other musicians, you need to work overtime to ensure your content is as discoverable as possible. What’s more, YouTube continues to introduce exciting features that can help artists better connect with their audience. Eager to capitalize on this increasingly popular platform? We’ve got all the information you need to make YouTube a key weapon in your arsenal.
Setting Up Your YouTube Music Artist Channel
Wondering how to make a music channel on YouTube? If you’ve never used the platform before, getting to grips with the basics can be a challenge. To make your life easier, we’ve whittled things down to the most important things you need to bear in mind when creating your YouTube artist page.
Create and Optimize Your YouTube Channel
Before you start thinking about uploading music videos and compiling playlists, you’ll first need to come up with a name for your YouTube channel. As with social media channels, you’ll need something that’s on brand and discoverable.
As a rule, shorter YouTube channel names are best. Of course, you won’t always be able to secure the name you want. If you need to think outside the box, just make sure you’re not being too creative with your channel name choices.
Are there other artists on YouTube with a similar name to you? This is a fairly common conundrum for independent musicians and bands. A quick YouTube and Google search will give you an idea of any other performers with a similar moniker.
YouTube Profile Images
Next, select your profile image. You’ll want to tie this into your branding. If you’re in a band, use your band logo or a recent hero shot from a promotional shoot. If you’re a solo performer, a professional headshot or recent album artwork can be used for your YouTube music profile. Just make sure it’s visually appealing and identifiable, even when displayed on mobile devices.
With that done, you’re ready to work on your channel description. Currently, there’s a 5,000 character limit in place on YouTube. This roughly equates to 800 words. You can capture a lot of information here. Introduce yourself as an artist and touch upon your musician influences. If you need some pointers, turn to your EPK or any recent press releases you’ve circulated for inspiration.
You can also include links to your other online platforms here. If you have active social media channels, link to them from here. Do you have an official artist website? Once again, make sure you’re linking to it. Finally, include a call to action. Make sure you’re convincing first-time viewers to follow you. You’ll also want to nudge them to new releases or external platforms if you’re looking to sell tickets for live performances or encourage interaction with social media campaigns.
Organize Your Content
While your YouTube channel will grow over time, it’s a good idea to launch things with a decent amount of material from the off. If you want to appear credible to new listeners, you’ll want to give them a good selection of material to devour. Just because your music is limited to a particular genre, doesn’t mean you can’t introduce some variety to your channel.
Think about creating playlists for new releases, then create another one that’s populated with footage from live performances. Have you recorded cover versions of songs that don’t fit alongside your mainstream content? Group them all together in a dedicated playlist. You can also add playlists for behind the scenes content, recorded Q&A sessions, and more.
Crafting Engaging Visual Content
YouTube is a video platform first and foremost. While it’s incredibly valuable for musicians looking to extend their reach, you can’t neglect the visual aspect of YouTube. No matter how compelling your tracks are, they need to be backed up with high-quality visuals.
Naturally, independent musicians might not have the resources to invest in music videos with high production values. What’s more, it’s not always a good idea to take a half-hearted approach with music videos. Instead of uploading a killer track with a lackluster video recorded on a smartphone, think about alternative approaches instead.
Would a behind-the-scenes reel work better as visuals for a new release? Perhaps a lyric video will resonate more with audiences? When in doubt, turn to visualizers to create captivating visual content to enhance your tracks.
If you need some help, why not create an IndieFlow account and use the Instant Video Maker? This user-friendly tool lets you create professional-looking videos in moments, without the need for any complex tools or in-depth knowledge of editing software.
Cover Art and Thumbnails
By now, you should have already invested in album cover art and image assets. While they’re essential for branding, they’re also vital for ensuring success on YouTube. Album covers need to be evocative and visually appealing. However, they also need to translate well on the screen of a laptop or mobile device. If users can’t make sense of an album cover on a 6.5-inch screen, they’re no use for online branding purposes.
You also need to consider YouTube thumbnails. Every video on YouTube will have a clickable thumbnail that serves as an introduction to the video itself. It needs to entice and convince users to actually watch the video in question.
The main goal of a video thumbnail is to generate clicks. Along with video titles and descriptions, thumbnails play a huge role in click-through rates. To make your thumbnails as appealing as possible, make sure you’re using the correct dimensions and high-resolution images. If you’re creating one from scratch rather than using a screenshot, make sure you’re keeping the overall design simple and free of clutter. Bright colors and bold fonts can work well, but just make sure these tie into your visual branding.
Leveraging YouTube’s Music Features
Far from being a platform for uploading and sharing videos, YouTube offers a wealth of advanced features that can help up-and-coming musicians promote their content creatively. With tools like Shorts, Premiere, and the Community Tab, music marketing on YouTube is surprisingly easy.
YouTube Shorts for Teasers
While YouTube is the perfect platform for releasing entire playlists and longer videos, you can also use it for uploading short-form content. The YouTube Shorts feature is somewhat similar to Instagram Reels. However, unlike Instagram where you’re limited to around 15 seconds, musicians on YouTube have up to 60 seconds to play with.
Obviously, this isn’t long enough to upload an entire song. However, you can use YouTube Shorts to introduce a snippet of a new release, a behind-the-scenes sizzle reel, or a direct address to camera to stir up interest.
Premieres for Building Anticipation
YouTube Premiere is another exciting feature that independent musicians can leverage to their advantage. Premiere lets you experience videos in real time along with your fans. If you’re releasing a new single or entire playlist, make sure you’re taking advantage of this feature for promoting music on YouTube.
You can do a lot more with a YouTube Premiere video than a standard upload. After creating a watch page ahead of time, you can share the link with your followers so they can set a reminder. What’s more, viewers can interact via chat and leave live comments.
Scheduling a YouTube premiere is incredibly straightforward. Simply upload the video in question and you’re good to go. You can launch a Premiere as soon as it finishes processing. Alternatively, you can schedule a launch time and date and select a countdown.
If you’re keen to get creative with YouTube music promotion and want to do more to engage your fans, Premiere is a pretty nifty tool. What’s more, once your Premiere is finished, it will be saved to the rest of your uploads so viewers can access it at any time. If you plan on making Premiere videos a regular thing, you can also use YouTube music analytics to see how successful your event was. If you’ve ever used Spotify for Artists, making sense of YouTube Analytics is a breeze.
Community Tab and Fan Engagement
Along with Premiere videos, there are plenty of ways to directly engage audiences and build a fanbase on YouTube. The YouTube Community Tab offers creators a wealth of tools that can be used to connect with their followers.
Looking for quick responses from your followers? You can add live polls to community posts to encourage participation. Eager to create some new content for your channel? Why not use polls to ask your fans what song you should perform for your covers playlist. They don’t even have to be tied directly to your channel itself. Why not use them to ask your fans what their favorite song of all time is or the name of the first album they ever bought? Just a few casual questions can help create a personal connection with fans.
Optimizing for Search and Discovery
As with any type of online content, you need to give your YouTube channel a helping hand to reach as many viewers as possible. If you’re keen to nurture a growing fanbase on YouTube, you’ll need to employ some SEO best practices when uploading every piece of content.
Video Titles and Descriptions
Too many people consider video titles and descriptions as an afterthought. However, they play a big role in the discoverability of your content, especially if you’re not particularly well established on YouTube.
Before you attempt to work any SEO magic, you’ll need to think about standardizing title formats. Uploading a music video? Start with your artist or band, followed by the song title. You’ll also want to mention that it’s an official video to prioritize it over anyone else who’s uploaded a version of your track. Uploading a lyrics video, live performance, or demo track? Make the distinction between each type of upload. The more consistent you are with video titles, the more professional your channel is going to look.
As far as video titles are concerned, the main keywords you’ll need to focus on include your name as a performer, along with song and album titles. However, you have more scope for incorporating keywords in the video description. When crafting video descriptions, first focus on producing relevant text. You have up to 1,000 characters to work with, but make sure you’re capturing context in the first couple of sentences.
If you plan on using keywords to increase discoverability, make sure you’re using terms that people are going to actually be looking for. You can use tools like Google Trends for inspiration. Remember that many first-time listeners are going to arrive at your videos after a Google search, rather than from elsewhere on YouTube.
Tags and Hashtags
Another way to boost discoverability on YouTube is to make use of hashtags. If you’ve ever used hashtags on Instagram or elsewhere, you'll know the score here. Once added to video titles and descriptions, hashtags will provide another avenue for potential listeners to find your content.
Many YouTube users also search for hashtags, along with conventional keywords, so make sure you’re thinking about them every time you prepare a video for upload. Don’t make the mistake of overstuffing your videos with hashtags. Too many tags could flag your content as spam. It’s best to be strategic when selecting hashtags. Try and stick to a few relevant hashtags.
Annotations and Cards
YouTube is becoming increasingly interactive as a platform. However, you’ll need to make use of features like YouTube Cards and annotations for your content to really stand out. You can use them to encourage viewers to take action, such as check out another video on your channel or subscribe to your channel.
If you’d prefer to keep your YouTube channel relatively low-key with few visual distractions, YouTube Cards are your best option. Although visible, these on-screen elements are small and won’t distract from the main show.
Analyzing Performance and Adjusting Strategies
With YouTube Analytics, you have all the tools you need to see how well your channel is performing. You’ll be able to access metrics like video views, watch time, and subscriptions. However, you can go far deeper than this. You’ll be able to identify impressions and click-through rate, where your viewers are arriving from, as well as look at how viewers interact with your content at specific points in video timelines.
With all these insights to hand, it’s easy to adjust your approach if your viewing numbers are low or you’re losing subscribers. Are your behind-the-scenes videos failing to engage viewers? Take note of average view duration and what point people are clicking away. You might decide it’s best to produce more short-form content or put more effort into creating engaging long-form videos.
You can also take a closer look at your audience. How many people are returning viewers for first-time watchers? How many are loyal subscribers? If the bulk of your viewers are existing subscribers, you might need to increase your engagement efforts to entice more people to your channel. Along with fine-tuning your titles and descriptions for discoverability, you can also think about drumming up interest on your other social media channels and directing Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter followers to your YouTube channel.
Collaboration and Cross-Promotion
For independent musicians, collaborating with other artists can be a useful way of tapping into new audiences and increasing exposure. While securing a support slot on the live circuit is the dream for many, you can also collaborate online.
Are you aware of any other independent musicians putting out similar music to you? Why not cover one of their songs and reach out to them with the results? If all goes well, you can secure an online collaboration of existing and original material.
If you want to increase exposure for your material, you can even offer your music to other channels for free use. Are there any high-profile general interest or entertainment channels you’re fond of? It’s worth reaching out and asking them if they’d like to use your music for their uploads. Ask them to link to your YouTube channel in their own uploads and you can look forward to an influx of new listeners.
Cross-Promoting on Social Media Platforms
There are around 2.7 billion active users on YouTube. However, this is just a fraction of the 4.9 billion people who regularly use social media. If you’re active on other social media channels and want to capitalize on your followers there, you’ll need a cross-promotional strategy.
You can share snippets and previews in the form of short-form videos on platforms like TikTok and Instagram. If you’re planning a longer video or series of uploads, use features like Instagram stories to drum up interest.
Ensuring your linking to all your other social media platforms in the bio section of each profile is also important. Clickable links are a must. Finally, remember that simply having a social media platform isn’t enough. You might be uploading content to your Facebook profile or Instagram channel daily, but unless you’re actually engaging with your fans, you’re not making effective use of these. The more you engage your social media followers, the more likely they are to follow your advice and investigate your YouTube channel when prompted.
Start Promoting Your Music on YouTube Today
Whether you’re just starting out in your career or have been performing for years, now’s the time to create a YouTube artist page if you haven’t done so already. When creating your channel, make sure you’re optimizing channel names, descriptions, and investing in high-quality image assets. You can also try experimenting with layouts, giving returning subscribers and first-time visitors a different experience.
Next, take the time to organize your content. Categorize your uploads according to genre, group live performances together, or create a separate playlist for behind-the-scenes footage. It’s also important to remember that YouTube is a video platform. As such, there’s no excuse for cutting corners when it comes to video content. If you don’t have music videos at your disposal, use IndieFlow’s Instant Video Maker instead.
It’s also worth remembering that YouTube has a host of advanced features you can use to extend your reach and engage fans. Use YouTube Shorts to tease fans with snippets of upcoming material. Utilize YouTube Premiere to host unique live content for loyal subscribers. What’s more, there are plenty of ways to keep your subscribers hooked with the Community Tab.
Always turn to YouTube Music Analytics to see what’s working and what isn’t. If you’re doing everything right but are still struggling to increase followers, cross-promote with your other social media platforms and consider collaborating with other prolific YouTubers.
Alongside other streaming platform tools for artists, YouTube is an indispensable avenue for getting your music heard, connecting with new and existing fans, and increasing brand awareness.