Finding your own space on Youtube

Youtube1536x1024Throwing cookie dough at  the wall only to  see what sticks, that’s  a game that the music industry played for a long time. Called Production Driven Strategy in the world of commerce, the idea was that the one project that worked did so well that it more than  made up for the  countless others that didn’t.  And boy, were there a  lot of  those!

Despite  the many  failures, however,  the modern music industry had enjoyed almost constant  growth since its commercialisation in  the mid-20th Century. This  wasn’t always about  skill, though, on  the part of  our industry  executives.  The truth  was  that postwar  economic  recovery, limited competition  from  other entertainment-  based  industries, and  a  boom in  the concept of youth culture (young people who had money and wanted to spend it) had created an environment  where their actions were inconsequential. Today, we’re talking about growing your brand and audience using YouTube.

Music was where the  money was, and  so the music  industry adopted Production  Driven Strategy, making what it could, using marketing to make people want that thing. There was little need to do  anything different. That  was, of course,  until a deadly  combination  of  technological  advance,  consumer  desire  for  digital product, and a reluctance to change on the part of the music industry came about in the late 90s  to create the perfect  storm, sending ripples through  music. A domino  effect  that destroyed  the  seat of  power  that major  record  labels, distributors and retailers had enjoyed for decades meant that we were forced  to consider something different. That thing? Market Driven Strategy.

Today, all  kinds of  businesses are  Musiclistening to  their customers;  and that’s basically what Market Driven Strategy means. Rather than creating what you  can, you create what the customer wants, and by virtue of that fact, you are creating something for which a measurable (and hopefully measured) demand already exists. And this, dear reader, is where you come into it.

In my last piece of writing to you,  we considered what was  and wasn’t working for content creators  all over the  world. We considered  Jessie J, who, over a period of six years, used YouTube and an online audience as a testing ground for her debut album. Her  style truly evolved with  much input from her  fans. Quite simply, they told her  what they liked and  what they didn’t, and  she listened; the result being an unprecedented level of support and adoration from  audience, industry and media, alike. That’s the power of Market Driven Strategy for you.

Jessie J amassed millions upon millions  of YouTube views, and in this  article, we’ll explore how  you might do  the same. The  first thing to  remember is that today, in the Western world, we watch music more than we listen to it.

Weird, huh? As a result, You- Tube is dominated by music content. Of the top  30 videos of  all time  on the  platform, only  1 (Charlie  bit my finger – Again!) contains non-music content, and although there is no formula per se for  YouTube stardom, there are some  simple things that you  can do as a  singer to increase the  visibility of  your work  amongst the  16 years  worth of  content that  is uploaded every single day.

My top tips are as follows:

1. Mix Covers with Rewrites, Mashups and Originals

If there is one thing to be sure of, the right cover at the right time can get you a whole lot of online attention; so check out the release schedules of  your favourite signed artists and work on a track that fans are likely to search for. A trick  practised by the likes  of Alex GootBoyce Avenue and Sam Tsui and countless others, this  one can do  wonders! Mix straight  covers with rewrites, mashups and originals in order to create a ‘pathway’ for your audience from  the familiar to the new and exciting. It’s very important that you aren’t  just re- creating the sounds of yesterday from start to  finish. The point of  the cover strategy, remember, is to get initial attention and then wow them with something different.

2. Understand tags
Going against what seems obvious, your YouTube video title and description  have virtually no link to  how your uploads are  treated. Instead, tags tell  YouTube whether your video is relevant to something that a particular user is  searching for. When  building your  own list  of tags,  in addition  to the obvious things (that may  in fact  also be  in your  video title  and description),  be sure to include broader terms  that relate to  your content (e.g.  “pop music cover” or “acoustic music video”).

3. A picture is worth a thousand words

Select the most interesting thumbnail available for use with your video listing,
as this has a big effect on how appealing your video is in search results.  Make sure to choose one that is visually satisfying and an accurate representation of what users are going to see when they view the video. If viewers stop watching your video after a few seconds because it’s not what they expected to find, YouTube  will give your  video a lower  quality score and  decrease its ranking.

4. Don’t upload until you’re ready

YouTube loves fresh content, so if you upload a video as private and later  make it public,  it loses  any initial  momentum it  could have  garnered if  it were pushed live when first uploaded.

5. More, More, More!

YouTube loves videos  more than the  Cookie Monster loves  cookies. Upload fresh videos on a consistent, regular basis. Doing this will keep your channel active, which means  all your  videos will  be ranked  higher than  if you have no fresh content at all.

6. Build call-to-actions into your videos.

We covered this one in the last issue. Once you have a view er,  give them  clear instructions  for what  you’d like  them to  do next.  For example, every video  you upload should  include in-video links  to subscribe to your channel. You can create these annotations within You- Tube itself.

7. Respond to feedback

Through response videos, you can create an online dialogue with your viewers. Not only is this a great way to demonstrate engagement (something that YouTube  loves, and will rank you  higher for it), but it’s a great way of making sure that your sound evolves in a Market Driven manner. Find out what your fans  like, and what they don’t. Do they  love your vocal licks? Now  is your chance to  try something new. And  whilst I leave you once again to begin experimenting with the tips above, I’d like you to also spend some time following the work  of Imogen Heap,  who is  taking Market  Driven Strategy  to a  whole new  level. By bringing the audience into the creative process (rather than just giving them  a front-row seat to  a polished performance),  Imogen is experiencing  the kind of buy-in and support from her fans  that many artists struggle to find.  Why don’t you try it out,  too? Stop throwing cookie  dough at the wall.  Instead, work on some  lyrical ideas  with your  Twitter followers.  Build a  topline with  your YouTube community. See where the journey takes  you and let us know how you  get on.

Until next time.