A beginners’ guide for musicians to increase views on YouTube

A beginners' guide for musicians to increase views on YouTube

DIY right or die

I really appreciate living right here and now: It has never been easier for bands and musicians to spread their music around the world without the need of having a label. You have all the necessary tools and channels at hand to promote yourself – even for free! In the best case, you can even monetize your videos on your YouTube channel. But with a lack of basic SEO knowledge, it’s really hard to reach your goal without optimization. Quite a few struggles so hard, they come close to boycotting themselves.

As a teenager, I was very shy and at some point, my dad said to me: “You have to head toward women yourself if I want to have a girlfriend. The woman of your dreams will not suddenly come to your door and say: Here I am!”. Similar to this anecdote, your music videos will not automatically generate viewers and fans on YouTube unless you consider the following points of “A beginners’ guide for musicians to increase views on YouTube”.

The sad status quo

It is sad but true that most of the music videos we post on Electrozombies are only found by accident or hard research. Very often it happens that we find great bands on YouTube, who have been online for many months or even years, and vegetate with perhaps 89 views because they don’t rank with the right keywords.

Why they don’t get traffic? Because the band did not use the description, keywords or tags provided by YouTube. Even the title is sometimes insufficient. It is quite a pity to see that music videos are produced with a lot of blood, sweat and passion and then bands do not care about the right marketing to reach their audience.

With this article, I hope to change that and to give all bands and musicians a guideline to generate more traffic, viewers and fans.

Page divider - Thunderbolt 07

Step 1: Follow the path of your fans

Earlier, when there was music television, we found more or less relevant new music through the videos. However, that was a rather passive act from the perspective of a music fan. Today music fans have to actively search! For example, by visiting webzines like Electrozombies or directly entering search terms on YouTube. And YouTube is similar to Google – it’s a simple search engine for videos. And here you should ask yourself the first question.

How do music fans search for music if they don’t know your band name yet?

Common search phrases include:

  • <music genre> music videos
  • Latest music videos of <music genre>
  • Music video <club name> on <date>
  • Music video <lyrics line> (Maybe heard on an online radio broadcast)
  • Music similar to <band name> or Music video for fans of <band name>
  • Music video for <season> or <special interest>
  • Music video contains <topic>
YouTue guide - Example keywords and tags
Example how I would tag the music video ‘Cover Me’ performed by ‘Depeche Mode

Use these frequent searches to grow and optimize your keywords. So in the form on YouTube find the field for keywords (tags) and include in any case the following information: band name, song title, music genre and similar bands. Uploading a live gig, add place and date (also specify the location in the advanced settings). Finally select keywords that point to the content of the music video, such as story, theme, season, place, etc …

Page divider - Thunderbolt 06

Step 2: SEO basics for music videos on YouTube

Many overlook the fact that YouTube belongs to Google and so they are indexed with title and description on Google as well. So fans can find your music not only on YouTube, but it is listed throughout the web via Google.

2.1. The title

But first thing’s first: the title is crucial on YouTube! The pattern for a music video should be as follows: <Band Name><Song Title> <(Video info)> <(Extra info)>.

This leads to titles like:

  • <Band Name> – <Song Title> (Official music video)
  • <Band Name> – <Song Title> (Official music video) (Feat. Musician name)
  • <Band Name> – <Song Title> (Awesome remix version)
  • <Band Name> – <Song Title> (Fan music video)
  • <Band Name> – <Song Title> (Other Bandname Cover)
  • <Band Name> – <Song Title> (Live at Dark Festival on 2017/06/12)
  • <Band Name> – <Song Title> (Official Audio)
  • <Band Name> – <Song Title> (Demo version in studio)

2.2. The description

There is almost no limit to the character length of the description, so use it as intensely as possible to get relevant. At first sight this may look like a lot of work, but once you have built it up you can use it again and again.

Here is a checklist of information you should enter:

  • Short description:
    This is the official music video <Song title> by the <Country name> <Genre name> band <Bandname> taken from the EP/album <EP/Albumname>.
  • Content: Maybe a short info about the music video.
    • What’s going on in the video?
    • What’s the idea behind the video?
  • Who made the video?
    • Directed by
    • Produced by
    • Edited by
    • Effects by
  • Who are the actors? List the names
  • Where and when was the music video recorded? Location(s) and Date/Time
  • Lyrics: as I already mentioned, maybe the listener has heard the song on an online radio broadcast and can only remember some lyric lines.
  • Links of all your official channels
    • Official website
    • Social channels
    • Label
  • Links of sites where to buy/download your music
  • Multilanguage is a must for non-native English speakers: write your whole description in your native language for local fans and also completely in English to reach an international audience

Page divider - Thunderbolt 05

Step 3: Good bait catches mice

Pictures say more than a thousand words – an ancient wisdom that applies 100% in our digital world. Once a user has entered a search on YouTube, the user scrolls through the results quite quickly. Your video has to prove itself under the displayed results and in the best case, your awesome ranking should attract attention.

There is only ONE way to reach this: use a custom thumbnail! The thumbnail does not necessarily have to be very meaningful, it should rather make the user curious. So choose a screen capture that makes people so nosy they definitely have to click!

Here are some tips on what the thumbnail might contain:

  • The key scene of the video
  • Extreme camera setting or focus
  • Interesting costumes
  • Close-up face, when makeup is unusual
  • Naked skin if not too explicit (Sex sells)
  • Disturbing or most strange scene in the video
  • High colour contrast (works nearly always)
  • Add text (Band name – Song title) on the thumbnail

Page divider - Thunderbolt 04

Step 4: The press is your friend

YouTube guide - Mailing listLast but not least: Promote each of your releases! The good thing about it: if you’ve already followed the steps up to now, you’re basically done!

In the beginning, it is really difficult and time-consuming to create a mailing list/distribution list of suitable websites (International). But it is an effort worthwhile. Not many sites do as intensive a research as Electrozombies does and even we can not always guarantee that since we all have a regular job alongside the webzine. Thus, we always miss good music videos and this really breaks our hearts.

Speaking for Electrozombies but also for a wide range of other music press: Incoming emails are always checked. To make our lives easier and your emails get read faster, you should stick to the classic KISS-principle: Keep it short and simple!

Here is a sample setup for a mailing list email that everyone can work with quickly and easily. More information is not needed in one email.

  • Short presentation who you are
  • One-liners about the subject and content of this e-mail
  • Link to the music video
  • Copy and paste <Your YouTube video description>

All too often we get asked to listen in on an album or watch a music video without being linked to it. This is an absolute no-go.

The link is clicked in any case and then the receiver decides whether the music video for webzine fits or not. Alternatively, we offer a contact form which, when fully completed, will provide us with all the information we need.

One more thing concerning the selection of the recipients: check out their websites and decide whether you fit in their profile! If a punk band sends out the promo to a techno magazine, it is surely a waste of time for both.

Page divider - Thunderbolt 03

Final tips

Your band is a brand!

You need to learn to handle and promote your music as a product. Even well-known companies shout out big advertisements worldwide to present their new product for a successful product launch. This means, conversely, even if you believe to have a well-known name and status in the scene, these rules still apply to you. Surely you’ll have an easier time reaching your old fans and subscribers, but you’re also losing potential new fans if you don’t follow this guide.

Do good and talk about it!

A proven formula to improve your image or reputation. Celebrities, in particular, use it when they support charity. Although you might not do charity, you still have a lot of good stuff to talk about: a new video, a new album, a single, new band member – there’s a whole variety of things to communicate. You can use all those things to stay in touch with your friends – that is your fans and most of all: the press.

Now go and get ’em!

We hope, we could help all you new and old bands out there, who struggle with their number of viewers. If you did it right, we´re looking forward to hearing from you!