This two-part post is going to be all about using YouTube to promote your music online. In part 1 of this series I get into the basics for people who’ve never used YouTube before to promote things. Even if you’ve already got an account or are actively using it, there are some great tips you can still learn – especially in the section about creating your video.
This guide will go through everything – from creating an account, to making and uploading a video, and to promoting that video effectively. If you’ve got your own YouTube tips, leave them in the comments below and if you think this is a useful post, please share it with the buttons on the left.
- Creating A YouTube Account
- Setting Up Your Artist/Band YouTube Channel
- Creating Your Music Video For YouTube
- Creating A Basic Music Video For YouTube
- How To Create a Better, More Professional Music Video Without a Camera
- What To Expect In Part 2
Introduction To Promoting Your Music On YouTube
If you haven’t heard of YouTube there’s a good chance you don’t live on Planet Earth. The video sharing site is one of the largest websites on the internet and is the second biggest search engine online. If you’ve been making your own music for any amount of time, you probably know that it can be a great opportunity to connect with new fans and get your music and music videos heard. Over 4 billion (that’s right.. billion with a “b”) videos are watched on YouTube each and every month. Last year alone the whole site got more than 1 trillion (yup.. trillion with a “t”) views. If you’re not already on YouTube – you need to be there.
As an independent artist, you have to go to where the fans are. And fans are definitely on YouTube. Teens listen to most of their music on YouTube, whether or not there’s an actual music video to the songs they’re searching for. Some people hate the fact that there are so many videos on YouTube that have just a still picture to it with music in the background. But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Like I mentioned, YouTube is the second biggest search engine (next to Google) and people are going there to listen to music. So whether or not you have an actual music video should stop you from uploading your music online.
Creating Your YouTube Account
Firstly, if you don’t have an account, go here and create one now. Because it’s owned by Google, you’ll have to create a new Google/Gmail account. If you already use Google for anything (gmail, Google Reader, etc.) you can easily sign up for YouTube as well using that same account.
If not, enter the information required in the form (name, email id, birthday, gender, password, etc.), click the checkbox next to “I agree to Google’s terms of service blah blah blah..” and click “Next Step.” Once you have signed up, click the blue button that says “Back To YouTube.” When you click that button, you may actually be taken to your Google Account Settings page. If that’s the case, just click the “YouTube” link in the top black menu bar and hit “Sign-In” on the next page (top right of screen).
Setting Up Your YouTube Channel
Once you’ve got an account you’ll be taken to a place where you can subscribe to other popular channels to get you started. Engaging in the YouTube community (by interacting with other video publishers through comments, likes, response videos, etc.) will be an important part of marketing your stuff on the video sharing site. I suggest at least starting off by following a few channels you’ll find interesting. Once you’ve done that click on your name in the top right corner with the little arrow pointing downwards and choose “Settings.” This is where we’ll enter all your profile information.
The first thing you’ll want to do is click the link that says “Create a Channel.” When choosing a channel name make it your artist or band name so it’s easily recognizable. If your artist/band name isn’t available try adding the word “Music” or something similar to the end of it. Next you’ll choose the sharing options for your channel. I’d suggest leaving everything checked because it’s a way to show you’re engaged with the community and taking part in it – not just shamelessly plugging your own shit.
Next, click “All Done,” and you should be taken to your new channel. If you look on the right hand side of the page you’ll see your channel name with a little “Edit” link next to it. Click that so we can enter some details about yourself. In the “About” section enter a short version of your artist/band bio and describe the kind of videos you’ll be uploading to YouTube. (If you don’t have a short bio, create one – we’ll put up a post about writing your own biography soon).
In the next section where it says “Add A New Link” enter your other websites across the internet. This includes your personal artist/band websites, facebook, twitter and other social media accounts, and any other major website which features your music like iTunes or Amazon. In the “Title” area describe the link you’ll be adding (i.e. “Artist Website” or “Twitter”) and where it says “Custom URL” enter the website address (i.e. http://twitter.com/YourTwitterName, etc.) and click “Add.” Below this, you can also enter your city and country if you’d like.
Now, if you go back to the main “Settings” link we went to earlier (underneath your YouTube account name in the top right) and you look on the left sidebar, there are more settings you can change. Click on “Defaults” underneath where it says “Channel Settings.” Here you can choose options like making your channel private or public (as an artist promoting your music, leave this public), your channel category (likely “Music”) and the license type (leave this as “Standard YouTube License” unless you want to give people the right to use your music/videos to make their own videos, etc.).
You’ll also want to enter a Title for your channel (be sure to include your artist/band name) and enter your full biography for the description. In the tags section enter your genre of music (hip-hop, rap, R&B, Dance-Pop, etc.) and also include names of famous artists similar to you. (More on this below.) Click “Save” in the top right of this section and you’re good to go. Now comes the part where you upload your music to YouTube.
Creating Your Music Video For YouTube
Now, there are a few different ways you can upload your music to YouTube. If you’ve already got a music video you can simply upload your video file to the site. However, if all you have is music and no video, you’ll have to create one. Here are some easy ways to do it.
Creating a Basic YouTube Music Video – Still Image + Music
The first way you can create a video from your music is by using some free software like “Windows Movie Maker” for PCs or “iMovie” for Macs. Both programs have similar features and both will allow you to put up a picture with your music playing in the background. This is the most basic type of video you can create. Here’s an example.
If you’ve got a picture of an album cover, band/artist shot, or anything else really, you simply drag it into the beginning of the timeline in iMovie or Movie Maker. Next, drag your song (MP3 or WAV file) into a separate track on the timeline. Then you’ll have to extend the picture in the timeline to be the same time length as the music you’ve included. Once you’ve matched the two media files in the timeline it’s time to render down the video. You’ll usually do this from a menu item in the movie maker software you’re using called “Export…” or “Render…” Choose a place to save the file and let the whole video finish rendering.
Creating a Better, More Professional Music Video Without a Camera
Another easy way to create a really good looking video is to use a service called Animoto Video Maker. This is a video creation service that makes beautiful videos that are a hell of a lot more than just an image with some music over top. These videos look great – it’s a fluid slideshow of images and text with crazy effects and music in the background. Take a look – they look pretty sick.
If you want to make Animoto videos like the one above, just sign up for an account with the Video Maker here. It costs a bit of money ($2.5 a month or $30 per year) but it’s SO worth it if you’re going to be making a bunch of videos. And since you’re learning how to promote your music on YouTube – it’s probably safe to say you’ll be making a ton of videos. You can also use a free account but are limited to creating 30 second videos. You may think that’s ok but I don’t think it’s a good idea to just tease potential fans with a small 30 second clip of your music. If you’re going to promote your music on YouTube, upload the full songs.
Once you’ve signed up for an account, it’s pretty simple to make a video. After you sign in click on the blue “Create a Video” button in the top right of the screen. In the next screen choose the style of video you want to create. Each of these styles has a different color scheme and different transitions and effects. Preview a few of them by clicking on the thumbnail and see which ones you like best. My favorites are “Animoto Original,” “Fire,” and “Water.” When you’ve chosen the style you want click the button to create a new video.
Adding Pictures, Music and Video Clips
Now you can choose the music file you want. Click on “Choose Music” on the left of the screen and then hit “Upload Songs.” Choose your music file (MP3 only) by searching for it and double clicking on it. Make sure your MP3 file is under 10 Megs and no more than 10 minutes. Animoto will then upload the video.
Next choose “Add Pics and Video” and choose some pictures or video clips from your computer by clicking “Upload Pictures and Video.” You can also import them from your social neworks to add to the video. Depending on the length of your song, you’re going to want to choose quite a few different pictures.
You can choose whether you want the pictures to scroll through fast or slow, but you’ll still need a a lot to fit a 3-5 minute song. I would say choose at least 20 pictures to be safe. If you’ve recently done a photo-shoot or have some live show pictures use any you can find. Also use images you find through Google Image Search that are related to some of the themes in your song.
If you’re using video clips you might be able to get away with less, but still choose enough that you think will fill the entire time your song is playing. Good video clips to use are things like live show footage, in the studio clips and even clips you have of daily life if they fit with your image/brand.
Another element you can add to your Animoto videos is text. This is a GREAT way to add marketing messages to your videos in a classy and professional way. (Annotations and things can sometimes look pretty bunk). You can add multiple text clips that say your artist name, song name, production credits, website addresses and any other info you want to include in the video (“Album Available On iTunes,” etc.).
Once you’ve chosen or entered your music, video clips, pictures and text you can re-arrange everything so that it’s all random and staggered. I recommend starting out with text that displays the song name and artist or band name. Next maybe some text about where they can download/buy the track followed by a picture of the artist/band. After that you can randomly choose pictures, text and video. Vary it up a little bit so that it doesn’t become boring or have 10 pictures or pieces of text in a row.
If you want you can choose to “Spotlight” a particular picture or text piece by clicking on it in and then choosing “Spotlight” from the right hand side of the screen. This will make the item stay on the screen longer and include a special effect that highlights it. You also may want to click “settings” on the right hand side of the screen and choose to make the video speed “Slow.”
Once you’re done editing where everything will show up, click the green “Preview Video” button. You can view how it will look or skip right to the final render/production by clicking “Skip & Produce.” When you are producing the video just give it a bit of time to fully render. Once its finished you’ll be able to watch the final product and download it to your computer by clicking “Download Video” underneath the actual video window. Save it and you’re ready to upload the video. You can also import it directly to YouTube, but I like to download it to my computer first.
What To Expect In Part 2 of This Series
This post is already huge so that’s it for Part 1. In part 2 we’ll talk about uploading your video, doing research and entering your video information for maximum impact and different methods of promoting your video to get REAL FAN VIEWS.
If you’ve got any questions or ideas/tips of your own, leave a comment below. And if you thought this post was useful, please share it on twitter, facebook or another social network and help spread the word!
Much respect – I’ll see you for part 2 of this post soon!