I will start by saying that I do not have hundreds of thousands of subscribers on my Youtube music channel. The reason I am writing this article is because I couldn’t find the advice I needed when I started it, I couldn’t find tips tailored to help music creators display their work and find an audience. I feel like I have managed to make my channel a creative space that I am proud of, that I have fun with and that is consistent with my music and my personality. Most importantly, my music channel has enabled me to interact with awesome people on Youtube, whether listeners or music makers. So, here’s what I learned (feel free to teach me more, I have so much to learn!)
Make music, make videos and be patient.
I will be honest, building a YouTube channel takes a lot of time, a lot of creative juices, and a persistent motivation. What makes it even harder, when you are a music creator working on your own, is that you also need to make music, which also requires a lot of resources. I don’t know about you (tell me more about you!) but each song takes me about 100 hours of work (to come up with the melody, the lyrics, the arrangement, to record and mix a demo and to take it to the studio). And at best, I can spare a couple hours for that after work (I get home at about 8-9 PM).
My advice would be to make the most content you can make without killing your enthusiasm. The content will necessarily accumulate and give people more opportunities to find you and more reasons to subscribe. If you can upload a video or more each week (which probably is the best thing to do), you will speed up the development process, but you might increase the probability of getting discouraged if you don’t see results right away. I personally try to post a video each month to give me time to work on my music. I know I won’t grow as fast as everyone else, but I know I will keep enjoying the process.
Some videos are easier and faster to make. Here are some ideas : I either post a new track (with a photo in the background), a “making of” video where I share my creative process and how I made a specific track, or a music video. I typically consider a music video to be a project in itself, which requires more thinking and planning.
Your Youtube channel needs a structure.
Let me make it more specific to our music production and/or singer/song-writing niche.
Your home page should make it obvious that you are running a music channel. I use sections that I name in a way that makes it explicit: Music videos, Original music, Live performances… Because people tend to be attracted by videos more than audio, I think it is wise to put a music video section at the top. My music videos are homemade and it shows (ahah), but I don’t really mind because they are conversation starters, they are more engaging than audio-only videos.
Playlists should be your best friends. Of course, you should make one for each album or EP, but if you have enough tracks, you should also organize them into genres or situations (lazy Sunday morning, jogging, wild night out…), because people who don’t know you won't search your specific titles and album names. For each playlist, make sure to add a description and relevant tags, so each playlist gives you another opportunity to be found through the search engine.
If you are going to make covers (which is a great strategy for growth), I would recommend you keep them separate, in a dedicated playlist. You want your channel to highlight your original work while making it easy for those who enjoyed your covers to find more of them in one place.
Find like-minded musicians, song-writers, producers... and listeners.
This is the most amazing thing about Youtube and the Internet in general. It gathers all kinds of people with all kinds of tastes. If you put yourself out there, if you show your real personality, if you only share content that you are proud of and that you actually enjoy watching or listening to, it will resonate with people who are just as passionate as you are about the same things. I am a peaceful, mellow person and I make chill music. I used to think no one would listen to me, but it happens that people use my music to focus, to work or go to sleep. And that’s great!
If you find (or are found by) fellow musicians, take the time to actually learn about them, their work and see if you can collaborate to capitalize on each other’s strengths and skills, or at least support each other (comment on each other’s content, share tips or feedback). If someone takes the time to listen to you and give you a word of encouragement, make sure you let them know you are thankful and keep the conversation going. Recommend similar music, for example!
Hope that helps. Keep doing what you love.
And remember to protect your creations!