If you are a musician but you are having a hard time building an audience on YouTube, then you might want to take some time and read this post. Because in this guide, we will share with you all the tips you need to optimize your YouTube channel as a musician to get you the right audience.
So, without wasting time, let’s dive right into it:
The first thing to note when you want to grow your YouTube channel organically has to do with choosing the right content strategy. As an upcoming musician, your first aim is to pull people in to like you and subscribe to your music. And to do this, you want to make sure that the content you post is what people want to watch. Content strategy refers to the process of effectively planning, creating, and delivering content that people would love.
Here are some tips to help you create an effective content strategy:
I mean we all subscribe to people’s YouTube channels because we know what to expect from them. This is why it is important that as an upcoming musician looking to establish a fan base on YouTube, you find a theme that represents your style of music.
You must choose a theme that resonates with your target audience. So, you want to start by asking yourself these three questions:
By answering these questions you would be able to create content you like (your values) and content your audience enjoys as well. We highly recommend you stick to your theme so that people do not get confused when they come to your channel.
Most underground musicians tend to start by posting only their original songs or their behind-the-scenes vlogs on YouTube, and while this might sound like the route to follow, it isn’t. This is because as an underground artist, many people don’t know you are, and they wouldn’t be interested in watching any of your videos.
If you are looking to grow on YouTube as an upcoming musician, then you want to jump on the hype. What I mean by this is, you want to make covers of hit songs that people like, and post them on your YouTube channel. Since the artist of the hit song you are doing a cover for already has an audience, the audience will be interested in the cover more than anything else you post.
However, it is important to note that for covers, YouTube might take some of your AdSense earning due to copyright. However, if money isn’t a big deal, you can use that route.
A typical example of musicians that jump on the hype is Conor Maynard and even Justin Bieber. Even though he is an established musician on YouTube, he still does covers of popular songs.
It is important that the covers you do align with your theme. You do not just want to do any song because it is popular, however, you want to ensure that it reflects what your channel is about.
Another way to jump on the hype is by doing a reaction video. Instead of doing a cover of popular songs, you can react to some popular songs. An example is Joshua Crawford, who has grown his drumming channel over the years by reacting to both popular and unpopular drummers.
You can also educate people on how they can become great musicians or if you are a producer you can educate people on how to produce a beat or the equipment to use or you can even remake a beat.
So, there are many ways you can jump on the hype. However, the key here is to leverage and attract the audience from established artists and musicians to your channel.
After you realize people are starting to subscribe to your channel, and they like the covers you do, you want to start posting some of the work you’ve done. This way, you can start to build your audience on YouTube, without having to depend on covers. However, it is important to note that you do not have to stop posting covers. You want to drive people to your channel through the covers you do, and then you convert that audience into your audience by posting your original content.
Also, make sure to post three or two original videos before you post your first cover. This way, when people decide to go through your channel after viewing the cover you posted, they can see some of your original work, and then decide to subscribe.
Consistency is an important thing to do if you are looking to grow an audience. With YouTube, you will need 100 videos or a little bit over 100 videos before the algorithm starts to boost your videos to a much larger crowd. Therefore, you must post high-quality content consistently and be patient. Trust me, if you are consistent and you stick to a theme, the YouTube algorithm will recognize what your channel is about and then suggest it to your potential target audience.
Now we have some of the non-technical aspects out of the way, let us take a look at the technical metrics to look out for if you want your channel to stand out.
Doing some keyword research is crucial to your success on YouTube. Keywords are a must-have optimization factor for every search engine. And with YouTube being the number one entertainment search engine globally, you must do some keyword research and use keywords relevant to your genre of music if you want to get that traction you need.
Keywords refer to words people are most likely going to type into the search bar when they are looking for content on a search engine. So, for YouTube’s algorithm to recommend your videos to people, then it will depend heavily on the keywords you use. Therefore, if you do not use the right keywords in your music videos, it will be difficult for your music videos to pop up on the first YouTube search results page.
So, if you can find these keywords and integrate them, then you would be able to organically attract some traffic to your videos.
The first step to finding the right keywords will be to get the right keyword research tools. Keyword research tools make it easy for you to find relevant keywords that rank for your music genre and how often people use them. There are tons of keyword research tools out there, however, the one we recommend is TubeBuddy.
TubeBuddy is a YouTube-certified keyword research tool that helps YouTubers find the right keywords for their videos. TubeBuddy isn’t free, and you will need to purchase either their Pro, Star or Legend subscriptions. However, if you are just doing keyword research, then you can use the free option.
Once you sign up for a TubeBuddy account, install the TubeBuddy extension and then whenever you are on YouTube, you can access and use any of their tools. Regardless of the keyword research tool you use, they all work the same; the only difference might be the extra features they offer.
To find the right keywords your target audience might be looking for, simply go to the YouTube search bar, and then try typing something related to your genre of music. While you are typing, you will notice that there are tons of suggestions that pop up below the search bar. Well, these are the words your audience is searching for when looking for music to listen to.
The keyword research tool will help you choose the right keyword from the suggestions that pop up. To choose the best keyword, write down the list of all the suggestions that popped up.
The next step is to type the keywords into the keyword research tool. A result will show up, and then you want to take a look at the “weighted score” of that keyword. This score tells you how good of a keyword that keyword is for your channel on a scale of 1 to 100. The higher the weighted score is for that keyword, the better the keyword is for your channel. So, run all the keywords and then choose the one with the highest weighted score.
The keyword research tool will also give you a detailed analysis of why that keyword tool is great for your channel. With the detailed analysis, the three analytics to looks for are:
These analytics are usually rated with a number or a scale with five colors (red, orange, yellow, pale green, and deep green) depending on the keyword research tool you use.
Let’s take a look at what these factors mean:
For upcoming musicians, the best keywords you can rank for will be for cover songs. You want to make sure that you hop on any trending music and then do a cover for that song to help you drive traffic to your channel, and help you grow your audience. This is because the original artist of that song already has an audience, so, doing a cover song will be a great way to direct that audience to your channel.
As an upcoming artist, it will be rare for people to go search you up on YouTube. However, if you can leverage the momentum and fame of songs from popular artists, you can use the keywords revolving around the song to get your name out there. Doing this will get new subscribers to your YouTube channel. Then once they are on your channel, they can find some of your original tracks.
So, how will these keywords be used?
You would be using these keywords in the title, description, and other aspects of your video. We will walk you through how you can utilize these keywords in the upcoming subsections. We recommend that you get at least 5 to 10 keywords.
Video Rankings Facors
YouTube wants you to produce high quality content which increases user engagement, this means that comments are a clear indication that people are engaging with your videos.
There has been research which indicates that comments are in fact a strong ranking factor.
This means you should try to encourage users to leave comments on your videos.
You can do this by asking a question either in the video or by leaving a comment yourself. Ask your fans what they thought of your cover or what you should cover next.
It has been confirmed by YouTube that the length of a video directly impacts the ranking. Longer videos will tend to outrank the shorter counterparts.
From YouTube “We focus on [those] videos which increase the amount of time that viewers spend watching videos on YouTube”.
In 2015 Google registered a patent which used ‘watch time’ in an algorithm to impact the ranking of videos. YouTube wants you to stay on the platform for as long as possible hence why they reward longer videos.
The average video on the first page of YouTube search results is 14 minutes and 50 seconds.
Another take on why longer videos outperform shorter ones is that they simply are providing more content with better value to the viewer. This in turn would generate more comments and interaction.
If you try search for a popular keyword it is hard to find many videos under 3 minutes, which proves longer content performs better.
Try mixing up your content by posting live sessions rather than just 1 song, this means your video will be longer.
Sometimes talking after a cover can increase engagement, try starting with a song (without and introduction) and then talk for a few minutes after it.
It can also be worth throwing in a few vlog style videos, maybe do a few challenges or even a Q and Q session.
Google who owns YouTube have said that that social shares don’t effect search engine results however YouTube uses a different algorithm.
User research actually indicates that social shares do have an impact on video rankings.
Before you go and ‘buy’ social shares and dodgy sites, YouTube has a system in place which determines who is sharing the videos.
This means that if you have spam accounts sharing your content it’s unlikely to rank.
YouTube wants you to create highly sharable content, so the key takeaway is to be creative and produce high quality videos.
Maybe try to produce something which stands out from the crowd, try do a creative cover or a mashup of multiple songs.
Several years ago, videos views were the most important ranking factor. However, over time YouTube realised that videos with lots of views didn’t necessarily mean they were good quality.
Audience retention and engagement are now the most important ranking factor within the YouTube Algorithm.
Video views still however have an impact on rankings as you need people watching your videos to impact the other ranking factors.
However, you will still see higher quality video with lots of engagement but not many views outranking a low-quality video with lots of views.
Don’t pay for fake views from bots as it won’t help your videos rank, you need to get users to engage with your video and the views will come naturally.
Surprisingly, YouTube will rank videos of smaller channels above ones with many subscribers.
This is probably because YouTube wants to encourage new channels to produce videos and keep fresh content being produced.
YouTube knows that larger channels will get views naturally through their subscriber base and the littler channels rely more on search.
It’s a well-known fact that a video with lots of likes will rank highly. Therefore it’s very common for YouTubers to encourage people to like their video.
We wouldn’t advise against doing this but if you’re creating high quality content the likes will come naturally.
We also again would recommend against buying fake likes as it’s very easy for YouTube to detect this and it won’t help your video rank.
If someone watches your video and really enjoys it, they are likely to subscribe to your channel so they can see more of your content.
This in turn is a very good indication to YouTube that your video is high quality and is an important ranking factor.
YouTube calls this ‘subscription given’ which is shown in the analytics for each video.
Having a clear CTA (call to action) in your video to subscribe can work wonders, this could be at the end of your song or maybe on and ending screen.
Ensuring that your video is HD is probably the easiest ranking factor you can implement without much effort.
Data shows the significantly more videos on the 1st page of video results are HD, infact of 65% of them are high quality.
Users can fitler by video quality when looking for videos so having a HD video can also help you stand out from the crowd.
Your video title should be composed of two parts, the SEO part, and the compelling element.
For SEO, you want to optimize your video by integrating one of the keyword phrases into your title. So, for example, if you did a cover of Peaches by Justin Bieber you want your title to revolve around the keywords “Justin Bieber” or “peaches” or whatever phrase you saw during your keyword research. So, for example, your title can be written as “Justin Bieber Peaches Cover by Conor Kenny” or “Acoustic Cover Of Peaches (Justin Bieber Cover).” Generally, you want the title of the video to contain the best-ranked keywords from your keyword research. Doing this will help you rank higher.
Besides the title helping you rank higher, you want to make sure that the title of your music video is compelling. Because writing a compelling title will be the factor to trigger people to click on your video.
So, you do not just want to only add relevant keywords, but you tweak the title of your video to compel people to click on your video over the other videos on the search result page.
One of the best ways to integrate keywords into your video is through your video description. The description section when uploading a video allows you to tell YouTube what your video is about.
Another reason why you should fill in your video description is that your music videos appear on people’s recommendations once they watch content similar to yours. This means people wouldn’t have to search you up before they find you.
They help you optimize your video for all the keywords you want to rank for without having to write them in your title.
Most people tend to skip writing a video description. Or even when they do, they write anything they feel like in their video description. However, you are harming your channel if you skip this section because the algorithm will not know what your video is about.
To write an optimized video description, follow the steps below:
The first step is to make sure that your video description is more than 200 words. Because you want your description to give YouTube as much information as possible to help them rank you. So, ensure that your title is detailed and thoroughly written in 200 or more words.
The next step to writing a good description is to start your description with the relevant keyword phrases and then spread the keywords you want to rank for throughout the description. Doing this will help the YouTube algorithm rank your video higher.
However, the caveat here is to make sure that you naturally integrate this keyword phrase. You do not want to stuff the keyword up in your description as well. You want to write these words as if you are communicating with someone. You can start the description with your title since your title contains the keywords you want to rank for.
The next step is to give credit to the producer and whoever worked on the video. Doing this will make them happy and it triggers them to share the video with others. Giving credit shows that you appreciate the hard work the team put into the making of the video.
When writing your description, do not forget to add links to your social media pages, booking email, management contacts, etc. Make sure that you have links to every platform people can contact you. Doing this is simple; you simply copy and paste the link of your social media handles in the description.
However, if you have your music on other streaming platforms, then you will want to create a SmartURL instead of just copying and pasting the link to your music page on those streaming platforms. Below is a video that describes how you can link other streaming platforms into your description.
YouTube video tags give you the chance to add as many as 500 characters. Ensure that you fill the tag with all the primary and secondary keywords you want your video to rank for. You want to use as many as possible to maximize the potential of your video for views.
Generally, you want to ensure that the tags you add have a mixture of longtail and short-tail keywords. Long Tail keywords are phrases that have three or more words, while short tail keywords have less than three words in the phrase.
For long tail keywords, you want your first tag to be the most searched keyword phrase from your keyword research. Then you can add other similar keyword tags as well.
For short-tail keywords, you want to make sure you add the name of any artist you featured or the name of the artist whose song you are covering. So, for example, if you featured Lil Baby or any popular artist in your video, you want to ensure that you add their names to your short-tail keyword tag. Also, the short-tail keywords should contain the name of your genre, for example, RnB, HipHop, Jazz, Rap music, hip-hop music, etc.
Even though YouTube allows you to add as many tags in 500 characters, we recommend that you stick with 6 to 8 tags that perfectly describe your video. Writing 15 or 20 tags will make it difficult for the algorithm to classify your video,
A great tool to help you generate relevant tags is TubeRanker. This free tool will help you effortlessly generate tags from just your preferred keyword phrase.
Another metric YouTube will use to rank your music video higher is the audience engagement signals. These are signals like comments, likes, shares, and subscribers. The higher these engagement signals, the better your ranking. Generally, YouTube loves channels and videos that viewers interact with. When viewers interact with your videos, it signals to the YouTube algorithm that people love your content, therefore the algorithm makes the video more discoverable.
So, how do you improve these signals?
You might have noticed most YouTubers say “do not forget to like, comment, or subscribe.” Well, they do this because they want to improve their engagement signals. So, before you begin or end the video, always tell your audience to like, comment, and share your videos. You must say it nicely and touchingly to cause them to do so.
You can say something like, “So much work was put into this video, and I will appreciate it if you could like, comment, or share this video.” Or you can say “If you loved this video, then share it with other music lovers like you”
You can trigger your views to comment by asking them a question and asking them to comment on their answer in the comment section. You can say something like “What music would you like me to cover next? Type your suggestions in the comment box below.” This would trigger most viewers to comment on the name of their favorite artist and then you can choose one random comment and perform a cover for the song they suggested.
You can either ask the question in your video or write it down in the comment section. However, we highly recommend you do both. Say it in your videos, and also write it down in the comment section. This is because people love to read comments, and they are always hesitant to be the first to comment, however, if you can take charge and comment first, people will follow your lead.
What I mean by this is to like and comment on any comment you see. Your viewers will love it when you interact with them by hearting up or commenting on their comments. This is extremely important to do especially for new YouTube channels. Do not just like their comments but hear them, because when you heart-up people’s comments, YouTube sends them a notification. However, when you like their comments, YouTUbe doesn’t send them any notification.
People are going to criticize your videos, and when they do, do not forget to reply to their criticisms politely. Answering criticisms leads to a back-and-forth between you and the critic, which is great for boosting your engagement signals.
Another optimization metric you can use as an artist is audience retention. This is a ratio that measures how long people spend watching a video on your channel. For example, if you have a ten-minute video and most of your audience watches it for 6 minutes, then you have audience retention of 60%.
Audience retention is important because it tells YouTube how satisfied people are with the videos you post. If YouTube discovers that you have high audience retention, then YouTube is going to recommend your videos to more people. Contrarily, if YouTube recognizes that your audience retention is low, then YouTube might not recommend that video to new people.
So, you must improve your audience retention. Below are some tips to help you improve your audience retention:
It is important that you sit down, plan, and structure your video in such a way that keeps people interested. For audience retention, the first 15 to 30 seconds of the video is crucial to keeping people tuned to your video. So, I want you to think about how you are going to script your video to get the audience hooked within the first 15 to 30 seconds.
For example, you can say something like “stick to the end of this video for a surprise”, and then you make sure that you deliver on any promise you make.
When delivering the content, you want to make sure you do it with high energy. Trust me, your energy is going to determine if your audience keeps watching or whether they close your video. So, whether you are singing, educating your audience, or reacting to a video, you want to make sure that your energy is high.
Another way to deliver your content on point is to talk loud and a bit faster. Doing this will engage your audience more and keep them more interested.
Another tip on how you can improve your audience retention is to post high-quality videos. You want to ensure that the equipment you use is fairly good and they can get the job done. As a beginner, we highly recommend you invest in some budget-friendly gear, and trust me if you can get this equipment, your videos will be interesting to watch. Trust me people are going to click away from your video within the first few seconds if the sound is bad or the background is boring.
For those of you that are going to be doing covers, your background will be crucial. Changing your background makes every video unique and interesting, and it makes the viewer more excited to click on your video. Changing your background can be as simple as changing locations for each cover you do. However, you can make your background more interesting by using colorful LED lights. Generally, you want to make sure that your background is interesting and not boring so that you subconsciously get the viewer hooked.
If you are on a budget, we recommend you start with great lighting equipment and sound equipment. Because great lighting can drastically improve the quality of your videos even for cameras that are not that great. And I mean since you are producing music — obviously– the audience will want to hear something good, which is why we also recommend great sound gear.
Another optimization metric YouTube uses to promote your videos or help you rank your videos higher is your watch time. Also, if you are looking to monetize your videos, watch time is one of the requirements. YouTube required that you have a watch time of 4000 hours over the past year for your channel to get monetized. This shows how important watch time is to YouTube.
Watch time is the total minutes or hours people have spent watching all the videos on your channel. Unlike audience retention that tells you the duration people took to view videos on your channel, and the point at which they stopped watching the video, watch time is the total time people have spent watching your videos.
To increase your watch time, follow the tips below:
People clicked on your video because of the title or the thumbnail, so, you must deliver whatever it is you promised in your title. Do not clickbait people. This will cause your viewers not to be interested in watching any other video on your channel because they think you might deceive them. So, you must deliver whatever it is you promised in your title or thumbnail. You want to make sure there is a strong connection between the title, the thumbnail, and the video.
Also, immediately after your intro, jump right into the content. Do not waste time boring your viewers with stories unless it is relevant to the main content of the video.
It is important that you set some expectations through your title and the first few seconds of the video to keep people hooked on your content. You want to make sure that you intrigue the viewer to keep watching your video. A great way to trigger people’s interest to continue watching your videos is to use open loops. What open loops mean is that you want to say “ow, I need to know what happens next.” Here is a video to help you keep viewers interested using open loops.
Yes, if you have people interested in your videos, then an obvious way to increase your watch time is to make your videos a bit longer. A great and fun way to increase your watch time is to add some bloopers to the end of your videos. Also, if you are doing a cover, instead of just doing a cover for one song, you can increase your video duration by mixing three songs and doing a cover of those songs together.
You want to think of creative ways to increase your content duration while keeping your audience interested.
We highly recommend you review all the analytics you get from your audience retention and watch time. Reviewing these analytics will give you insight into the things you do that cause your audience to not watch your videos for long periods. These analytics show you the common trend that causes abandonment in your videos.
So, take your time and study those audience retention graphs. Also, try to understand what is happening in each of the videos through the graphs.
With these analytics, you can know how to correct your mistakes and improve your channel’s watch time.
Audience retention and watch time are crucial ranking metrics YouTube looks to improve your videos’ ranks and discoverability, so, you need to pay attention to these.
Channel keywords can rapidly improve the growth and ranking of your channel. Channel keywords are keywords you optimize your channel with to help you rank higher. Just like video tags that help you categorize your videos, channel keywords are tags you use in your channel description to help YouTube place your channel in the right niche. So, the goal with channel keywords is to find high-ranking keywords in your niche and music genre.
Optimizing your channel with the right keywords helps YouTube understand what your channel is about, hence they can categorize your channel. Through this, YouTube can show your channel on the related channel section on other similar channels.
But how do you find your channel keywords and how do you optimize them on your channel? Well, here are some tips to help you rank your overall channel higher.
Keyword optimization tools make it easy for you to do your keyword research. As stated earlier, the keyword research tool most YouTubers use is TubeBuddy. So, you want to make sure you have downloaded it and installed the plugin on your computer.
As a beginner, it might be difficult for you to come up with your own channel keywords. However, you can take a sneak peek at some of the keywords your competitors(other channels who do the same style of music as you want to) are using.
You can leverage your competitors by following the steps below:
Type in the name of any of your competitors or any established YouTuber in your niche on the YouTube search bar. After you are done, you are done, visit their channel.
Once their channel page opens up, you should see the Channelytics icon right after the search icon. You will only see the Channelytics when you install the TubeBuddy plugin. Once you see the Channelytics icon, click on it and you will see a real-time analysis page popping up.
Once the Channelytics page opens up, I want you to take a look at the lower-left corner, you should see the Channel Tags section. This is the section that contains all the channel keywords used by that channel. You can then use those keywords to brainstorm some ideas for your channel keywords.
Once you discover the keywords used by that channel, we recommend you repeat the process for five different channels. This would give you a strong idea of the kind of keywords most top musical artists are ranking for. We recommend you save 10 to 16 keywords from these channels.
Once you have all the keywords relevant to your genre written down, the next step is to open your channel’s YouTube creator studio. On the right sidebar, you want to go to the Channel tab (underneath the Community tab) and then click on it. Once it opens up, click on Advanced. Once that tab opens, you will notice the Channel keywords section underneath the Country section.
Go ahead and add your keywords from the list you created in step 3. You must use double quotation marks to separate one keyword or keyword phrase from the next.
Once you are done typing your keywords, scroll down and go to the Channel Recommendations section. Make sure you select the “Allow my channel to appear in other channels’ recommendations” section. and then click Save. And then you have your channel optimized.
YouTube claims that hashtags help with the discoverability of your video, so do not forget to add them.
YouTube gives you the chance to add many hashtags to your description, however, we recommend you use 4 to 5 hashtags max. Make sure that you maximize these hashtags to rank higher by using relevant keywords and terms.
You can add hashtags when uploading your video in your video description section. You simply put a # sign before the word or phrase you want to hashtag.
So, assuming you did a cover for a song, you want to ensure that one of the hashtags contains the title of the song, the name of the artist, and any other relevant term. You can write the hashtags as #peaches #JustinBieber #Cover.
Or if you are posting a vlog about your musical tour, you can post hashtags like #vlog #behind the scene. You want the hashtag to be relevant to whatever the video you are posting is about.
Also, if you are participating in a challenge, ensure to add the name of the challenge to the hashtags.
We hope we have been able to give you an idea of how you can grow and establish yourself as a musical artist on YouTube. If you loved this post, do not forget to hit the like button, and also share it with other upcoming musicians like you.
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