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YouTube For Musicians: Start, Promote & Grow Your Channel

By Matthew Vultaggio

June 9, 2022

If you are a musician or music artist that wants to grow a YouTube channel, I’ve created this guide to help you figure out how what content to create and how you can start, promote, and grow your own channel.

Musicians that want to grow on YouTube must consistently post videos that viewers are searching for (1 or 2 times per week) and focus on giving value to their audience through entertainment, education, or a combination of both.

In order to properly start and grow a YouTube channel as a musician, you should follow these 3 steps:

  1. Understand what it takes to grow a YouTube channel as a musician
  2. Decide what content to post on YouTube
  3. Build a fanbase on Youtube with a recurring content strategy & content calendar

Although things like titles, thumbnails, and video quality can be important, they won’t truly help you build your YouTube channel unless you are consistently posting valuable content worth watching.

This is why this guide will focus on helping you learn how to put out content on YouTube consistently so that you can build an actual audience that wants to support you and your music.

What It Takes To Grow A YouTube Channel As A Musician

At the end of the day, all it takes to truly grow on YouTube is valuable content that is published consistently:

To grow on YouTube as an artist you need to post consistently (1 or 2 times per week) and focus on giving value to your audience through entertainment, education, or a combination of both.

By consistently providing valuable content, you can tap into YouTube’s powerful recommendation and search engines so that your content goes well beyond the eyes and ears of just the people that are subscribed to your channel.

Although YouTube does have a “feed” that shows new content, a big part of YouTube is the fact that it has a recommendation algorithm that can make your content appear to fans who like similar artists and genres as you at any time.

In addition to this, YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world (2nd only to Google search) which means that potential fans and listeners can also discover your content by searching for it.

…so how does YouTube know what content to push out?

The YouTube algorithm rewards videos by recommending that video to other users on the platform that have:

  1. High click-through rates: percentage of people that click your video when they
  2. High watch times: how long viewers watch your video

It is possible to improve your click-through rate with catchy thumbnails and titles as these are the main things that appear in the YouTube search results.

It is possible to improve your watch times by getting straight to the point (ie: no long intros or begging for likes/subscribes) as well as using YouTube analytics to see what parts of older videos your audience skips through and doing less of that.

Unfortunately, knowing what it takes to succeed on the YouTube platform creates several massive challenges for musicians and music artists in particular.

The 3 Biggest Challenges For Musicians On YouTube

There are several challenges for musicians and artists that are looking to grow their music on YouTube that may turn off anyone interested in starting and growing a YouTube channel.

With that said, it is important that musicians know the reality of what they should expect so that they know what they are getting into and are armed to rise above these challenges.

So let’s take a look at the 3 biggest challenges you will likely face as a musician trying to grow a YouTube channel:

1. It usually takes consistency over a long period of time before YouTube will start recommending your content to potential fans and listeners.

It is best practice on YouTube to upload a new video at least once per week, with 2 or 3 videos per week being the best-case scenario.

That is no easy task and it can be much more frustrating to know that you will likely need to maintain this publishing schedule for at least 2 to 3 years before seeing any meaningful results.

It’s very common for any YouTuber’s first videos to see virtually no views for months on end (which can be extremely disheartening and unmotivating) before YouTube trusts you enough as a content creator to push out your videos.

It can be frustrating, but patience is a virtue here and you will be rewarded if you are able to stay motivated and keep publishing consistently.

Freely giving away valuable content on a consistent basis is truly the key to building individual fan-to-artist relationships and is what can build momentum in your career to the point that you have a real and supportive fanbase.

The more you commit to showing up, the more chances you have to catch the attention of new fans as well as deepen your connection with the fans you already have.

2. Coming up with ideas and then filming, editing, and uploading video content can be time-consuming and challenging.

It can take a lot of time and effort to create content regardless of what social media platform you are creating that content for.

However, video content is much more time-consuming since you not only need to come up with video ideas but also technically “perform” them on camera, edit the video, and then post it to YouTube.

Although you can take advantage of batching and scheduling to maximize your time and effort, there is no getting around the fact that it will be both time-consuming and challenging to create the right content for YouTube.

With that said, learning how to speak properly on camera as well as film and edit video are massively useful skills that can benefit you in several areas of your life so you’re time and effort are never truly “wasted”.

3. You will likely need to create content that goes beyond just your music.

I know this one is going to suck for most musicians and music artists to hear but…

It is highly unlikely that you will be able to just post your music or even interesting performance videos of your music to YouTube and find success.

Most of the content that does well on YouTube is content that is providing very specific value to the audience which is usually in the form of educational or entertaining content.

The challenge here is to provide education or entertainment that does well on YouTube but also isn’t too unrelated and disconnected from your actual art.

Although you can eventually start creating more “vlog” or “lifestyle” types of videos when you have a larger audience that really cares about you…

If you’re just starting out or your audience is small, it is really important to really give some kind of value in the form of education, information, or entertainment in each video.

Focus on giving value but weave in your personality, your journey, and your music to build a relationship with your audience.

How To Figure Out What Content To Post On YouTube

…so now on to the big question:

How can you actually figure out what is the best “content” for you to create and publish on YouTube?

To find winning YouTube content as an artist or musician, you should first experiment with several different types of content, then analyze which types perform the best, and then finally double down on the content that works.

Truthfully, the process for finding winning content for any social media platform is to:

  1. Go through the process of experimenting with several different types of content
  2. Analyzing what works best
  3. Simply doing more of what works

With that said, it is important that you aim to seek out winning content that balances both what the audience wants from you and what you actually feel proud creating without burning out.

So let’s take a look at these 3 steps in more detail, my friend. 🙂

1. Experiment

The very first step of finding winning content on YouTube. as a musician is to experiment with as many different types of content as you can.

Also known as “social media experimentation”, social media experimentation is the act of posting different types of content to find the optimal content for you to post on a regular basis.

Start by taking the time to look at what other YouTube creators are making and come up with a list of different content ideas that you might want to explore.

Then simply create as many of those videos as quickly as possible and get them published to your YouTube channel.

Remember that the key word here is “experiment”, so these videos don’t need to have crazy production quality, they just need to be “good enough” since you will be able to double-down and improve the best types of content later in this process.

2. Analyze

Once you have experimented with posting as many different types of content on YouTube as possible, the next step is to analyze the results to get an idea of what you should double down on or try next.

The goal here is to find out what types of content got the most views, comments, and likes so that you know what kind of content your audience resonates with the most.

However, while analyzing your content make sure to also reflect on how that content made you feel in terms of how proud you feel about it and how much effort it took to create.

Optimal content is any content that strikes a balance between high engagement from your audience (likes, views, comments) and content that you are both proud of and isn’t too overwhelming to create.

3. Improve & Repeat

Once you have performed your analysis and have a good idea of what worked and didn’t work, it’s time to take what works and try to improve the quality.

Ultimatley you want to take the content that you want to “double down” on based on how much you and your audience resonated with that content and then find a more consistent “format” for that content that you can repeat and refine.

Just make sure to balance your own mental health by making sure that these posts are something that you’re actually proud of and are something that you can consistently produce more of without burning out.

It’s important to make sure what works is congruent with who you are as an artist and ideally showcases your creativity – you wouldn’t want to go viral for something like a dance if you don’t like dancing.

Once you have found your optimal content, you can then look to how you can start really building a fanbase on YouTube by being consistent with that content.

How To Build A Fanbase On YouTube (For Music Artists)

The best way to build a fanbase on YouTube that wants to support you and your art is to consistently publish new content to the platform.

Remember that ultimately you want to be publishing a minimum of 1 video per week and up to 3 videos per week if possible if you want to succeed on YouTube and start building a fanbase on the platform.

…so what is the best way to do this?

The best way to make sure you are as consistent as possible with your YouTube publishing schedule is by combining a recurring content strategy with a content calendar.

A recurring content strategy is simply a defined structure of different content types that you release on a regular schedule based on the experimentation and analysis process you just completed.

Once you have your recurring content figured out, a content calendar simply takes that optimal content and plots out when each piece of content should go live (and where) on an actual calendar so that you actually follow your plan.

To learn more about how you can build a fanbase on social media with a recurring content strategy and content calendar, check out my full guide called How To Build A Fanbase On Social Media. 🙂

Is YouTube Good For Boosting Spotify Streams?

YouTube is great for musicians because the content you create can easily be discovered months and years after you’ve created it through YouTube’s recommendations algorithm and powerful search engine.

Unlike other social media platforms, the content you create on YouTube doesn’t simply disappear and becomes irrelevant after 24 – 48 hours of posting.

This means that all of the time and effort that you put into creating content can result in content that serves your music career by finding and nurturing fans for years to come instead of just the first 24 – 48 hours of posting.

With that said, it is generally quite hard to get people off of YouTube and over to another platform like, for example, Spotify.

Here is a list of the pros and cons for using YouTube to promote your music on Spotify:

ProsCons
The hard work you put into creating content doesn’t become undiscoverable after 24 – 48 hoursIt can be hard to get people off of YouTube and onto other platforms
YouTube has a powerful recommendation engineTakes a lot of consistency to see results
There are music-specific channels you can try to get your music onMedium to long-form video content can be very hard to create and publish
It’s possible to build a very engaged and massive audience if you consistently provide valueYou will likely need to create content that goes beyond just your music and provide genuine value
The Pros & Cons Of Using YouTube To Promote Your Music On Spotify

Simply based on the fact that it can be hard to move people off of YouTube and onto Spotify, it is hard to recommend this as a go-to form of Spotify promotion.

With that said, if you are looking to grow your fanbase more generally and have some real value you can provide, then YouTube is a massive opportunity for artists and musicians.

If you’d like to look at other effective ways to promote your music on Spotify, check out my guide on Spotify promotion for more. 🙂

Should You Create An Official Artist Channel?

In addition to the standard type of YouTube channel that anyone can create, musicians also could potentially have “topic” or “official artist” channels.

Although all you really need is a standard channel to be successful on YouTube, I want to take a moment to highlight the differences for you so that you know. 🙂

An Official Artist Channel is a type of YouTube channel created by Google that allows you to bring all your content from any different YouTube channels you may have into one place.

This type of channel automatically places your music catalog into an area called “Music Videos” on your channel’s page:

It also adds a cute little music note beside your channel’s name:

A Topic Channel, on the other hand, is an automatically assigned channel that is assigned to artists that do not have their own official YouTube channel.

Topic Channels have the word “- Topic” after the artist’s name:

Also, artists with smaller play counts may have their music automatically added to a generic “Various Artists – Topic” channel until they become more popular and YouTube automatically creates their own Topic Channel or if they claim their own Official Artist Channel.

To learn how to claim an official artist channel, check out my article Does DistroKid Upload To YouTube? 🙂

P.S. You’ll learn how to claim an official artist channel even if you don’t distribute your music with DK, however, you do need to have a handful of songs officially distributed to do it.

How Do Musicians Makes Money On YouTube?

The 3 main ways that musicians can make money on YouTube are by getting their channel monetized, doing partnerships or sponsorships with companies, and by recommending products or services off of YouTube to their audience.

There are other ways that musicians can make money from YouTube (such as music publishing royalties) but these are the most common.

Musicians can get their YouTube channel monetized by reaching 1,000 total subscribers in addition to 4,000 watch hours in the last 12 months. Once monetized, YouTube will place ads on eligible videos that the musician will get a cut from.

Once an artist’s channel has grown a decent amount, they may get reached out to by companies to have some of their videos ‘sponsored’. Usually, in exchange for a flat fee, the artist will dedicate a segment (or 2) in their video to mention a product or service.

Musicians can make money from affiliate sales (a cut from the sale of someone else’s product or service) or by selling their own digital or physical products (ie: merch, courses, downloads) by mentioning them in their video and including links in the video’s description.

DistroKid “YouTube Money” Explained

If you are using DistroKid as your music distributor, they have an extra (and optional) feature called “YouTube Money” where they can help you collect any money owed from YouTubers that have used your music in their videos.

When you opt into using “YouTube Money”, DistroKid will add your song to YouTube’s Content ID database so that it can identify when your music shows up in any video hosted on YouTube.

From there, YouTube will be actively looking to find your song in every video on YouTube. If they do find your song in a video, YouTube will automatically turn on ads for that video.

For more on this, check out my article called: Does DistroKid Upload To YouTube? 🙂

The Best Social Media Platforms For Musicians & Music Artists

…want to go beyond YouTube, my friend?

The best social media platforms for musicians are Youtube for evergreen content & SEO, TikTok for virality & organic reach, Instagram for developing fan relationships, Facebook for its advertising platform, and Twitter for networking and communicating.

Properly using 1 social media platform and consistently publishing content to that platform is a lot of work, so I’d recommend starting with 1 of these and not experimenting with others until you feel ready.

And if you are ready to take on another social media platform, you can learn more in my guide on The Best Social Media Platforms For Musicians. 🙂

Some of my favorite music marketing tools

Thank you for reading this article, my friend, and I hope you found it helpful as you build your own successful career in music. 🙂

Here is a list of my favorite and most recommended tools and resources that I’ve personally used to get my music streamed over 4,000,000 times on Spotify as an artist.

Any of the paid services or tools listed here are most likely affiliate links, so if you do decide to use any of them, I’ll earn a small commission.

But in all honesty, these are the exact tools that I personally use, love, and recommend to anyone – including my own friends and family.

Music Distribution

To get your music on Spotify on all the other streaming services, I use DistroKid because you get unlimited song uploads for a low annual price.

If you want to learn more about DistroKid and music distribution, check out the in-depth DistroKid review that I’ve put together.

Or, if you want to get started with DistroKid right now, you can save on your first year with the DistroKid discount.

Facebook Ads For Spotify Success

Although Facebook Ads can be a real pain to get working properly, there is no denying that they are incredible for growing Spotify streams and getting your music in front of real fans.

This is why I’ve put together a completely free course that you can check out called Facebook Ads For Musicians’ Spotify Streams. 🙂

Music Publishing Royalties Collection

For collecting all of the publishing, mechanical, and live performance royalties owed to me whenever my music gets streamed or played, my go-to is Songtrust.

Songtrust is a publishing administration company which means that in addition to collecting all of those royalties for me, they do it on a global level.

To learn if Songtrust is right for you, I’d recommend checking out this article on Songtrust vs BMI.

And if you want to get started with Songtrust right now, I’d recommend learning about the Songtrust discount code so that you can get the best price. 🙂

Website & Smart Links

I’m personally not a big fan of the link-in-bio and smart links for music pages like ToneDen and Hyppeddit.

Instead, I prefer having a full-blown WordPress website that allows me to have a full website in addition to unlimited music links.

For getting started with this, I really like Bluehost because it is the cheapest and a theme called Thrive Themes because it is the most flexible and easiest to use.

I’ve actually created a free Smart Links Course that you can take to learn how to get set up and start getting more streams with custom smart links (I’ve even included the templates I am using!).

Want more tools and resources for your music career?

If you’d like to see even more of my favorite marketing tools and resources for musicians and music artists, I’ve created an even larger list on this page: Best Marketing Tools & Resources For Musicians (& Music Artists).

P.S. There are even some free tools and resources included on that page as well! 🙂

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