Artists: Here Is Why You Need To Develop A YouTube Content Strategy

This has probably been mentioned at least three times in the past on this blog, but YouTube is already the number one source for music discovery amongst young listeners. Over 6 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube—that’s almost an hour for every person on Earth, and if you want your career to go anywhere in 2014 you better lay claim to as many of those hours as you possibly can. Viral videos will certainly make a splash, but the likelihood of your next clip landing on the front page of Reddit is about one in a million, if not more. The smart play, at least for those who are willing to make time to create content properly, is to develop a video strategy they can maintain for the foreseeable future. We can help.

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The majority of December 2013 was dedicated to sharing tips on how to optimize your presence on YouTube (here’s part 1, part 2, and part 3). Those articles were intended to give you everything needed to have a modest presence on the world’s largest video streaming platform, but in order to grow your audience and raise the chances your content will be seen by someone in a position to help move your career forward you will need a plan that includes regular video updates featuring a variety of content. What that content entails will need to be discussed between you and the other members of your group, but thanks to authors Lucy Blair and Caroline Bottomley of Radar Music Videos we were able to find the following list of basic types of video content uploaded by musicians, which we have :

  • 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 (archivable streaming may be necessary across different timezones)
  • Episodic events

It is important to note these are all suggestions, and by no means should any artist/group feel obligated to attempt everything at once. Content strategy is a lot like learning a new skill, and by that I mean everyone works at their own pace. You have to decide what you are not only able to create, but what you are able to create to the best of your abilities on a regular basis.

Once you have discussed and settled on the type of content you feel you’re best able to create, do your best to draft a release plan for your video efforts and, more importantly, stick to it. If you want to do a weekly performance/cover series, make sure you know what you’re going to perform and when it’s going to be live online. Create content as far in advance as you need to in order to ensure you do not miss a premiere. Consistency is next to quality in terms of importance, and in the world of video there are no two elements that matter more.

That is, aside from talent, perhaps, but even that is easy to fake in 2014.

Developing and sticking to a video content strategy not only helps you develop your presence on YouTube, but it also gives your audience something to look forward to every week. People discover and forget more bands and songs every month than you ever want to realize, but with the release of consistent, quality content you can further the likelihood of your efforts standing out from the herd of unsigned artists currently clamoring for attention.

On the press side of things, having a well-functioning and scheduled video content plan can offer you a variety of exclusive opportunities with blogs. If you know you are going to have a video tour blog uploaded every week on your upcoming tour, then you have a weekly exclusive to offer writers to entice them to feature your band. Same goes for covers/performance series and fan Q&A. Too many young bands struggle with marketing because they do not plan things far enough in advance to allow for proper promotion. Do not be one of those bands.

Additional points to consider….

How far out should I plan?

Good question, person we invented to transition in the middle of this article. Most artists and labels approach album releases and the promotion for them in multi-month cycles. Depending on the type of content you want to create, the same efforts should be made for planning video updates. If you want to start a new series, don’t launch it tomorrow, but rather make a plan to launch at a point in the near future that allows you to properly build anticipation amongst your fans. There is no need to rush, and doing so will only result in poor content with little-to-no engagement.

How frequently should I post content?

Again, this is a case-by-case basis. Deciding the proper amount of time to wait between video uploads will depend heavily on the types of content you plan to release. Most should know there is no real need for daily video updates, but once or twice a week certainly would not be overkill. Unless you have nothing to say or share, of course, in which case there is no reason to upload content at all. The only thing worse than a lack of content is an abundance of useless content no one wants to share or enjoy.

How do I know if the quality of my content is good enough to share?

Before you post a video update, music video, or any type of media for that matter, ask yourself this: Would I want to share this content if I were to discover it online? If the answer is no, or even maybe, then you may want to hold off on posting until something better can be created. Never release something you do not feel represents you or your band in the best way possible.

Does this really matter? What are the consequences of not posting video content?

There are those who choose to leave the video work to signed musicians and do perfectly fine without engaging the internet via YouTube. Those cases are few and far between, of course, but you are always more than welcome to lead your career in whatever direction you see fit. There are no direct consequences, per say, but you are limiting the likelihood of your music being exposed to curious music fans online.

The fact of the matter is that most artists today will do anything if they feel it will help them reach new listeners while further engaging their current fan base, and those who eventually ‘make it’ are the ones smart enough to manage their various channels of communication well. YouTube and sites like it offer a unique platform for reaching listeners that is audio and text cannot match, but it only works if you do your part and create content worth enjoying. Make a plan, stick to it, and work every day to better the skills needed to create the content your followers enjoy the most. Success will follow.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.