Everyone knows how important the YouTube platform is for indie musicians. It’s a great way to get your music out to fans, grow your fanbase, and provide your fans with great content from music videos to vlogs. There are plenty of musicians out there who have become successful mainly because of their YouTube channel, with Karmin and Pomplamoose being two of the most successful examples. They grew their audience by targeting young teens with covers of popular songs. Other musicians, like Alex Day, have based their career entirely on recorded music sales and a YouTube channel featuring music videos and hilarious vlogs.
However, there is another aspect of YouTube that is vastly underutilized by the musician community on the platform - publishing. You don’t need a publisher to get your music placed in YouTube videos. You just need to be proactive with social media and reach out to YouTubers you think would be interested in using your music with their creative content.
There is a huge community of amateur and professional video makers on YouTube with topics ranging from beauty and fashion to gaming to health and fitness. There is also a big surge of professionalism among these YouTubers and many of the more popular channels act as full-time jobs for their creators. As a result, many YouTubers are investing in better cameras and lenses to make their channels more professional and entertaining for their viewers.
Many are also looking to music to differentiate themselves from the masses of other channels on the platform. As you probably know, YouTube has a tough copyright policy and videos illegally featuring copyrighted material can be taken down. As a result, many YouTubers seek out free music they can use without violating copyright. There are plenty of royalty-free music tracks out there, but many sound generic and repetitive. Another popular option is to find remixes or original tracks by amateur and indie musicians and get direct permission to use the music - usually in exchange for a link back to the musician’s website or soundcloud page or a shout out in the video.
So why try to get your music in YouTube videos if you won’t get paid? It’s another form of marketing and a great way to reach a potentially huge subscriber base in a really authentic way. Think about how you find new music. More times than not you get recommendations from your friends or another trusted source, not a big flashy advertisement.
YouTubers are tastemakers. People subscribe to their channels and watch their videos because they trust their opinions. When they recommend a product or brand their viewers will be more inclined to try it out, and the same is true with music. When YouTubers feature really great music in their videos, either by mentioning the band or by syncing the music with their videos, tons of their subscribers will go listen to more or even buy the album.
Let’s take a look at a few examples. Day, whose real name is Sean Plott, is an ex-pro-gamer, a game commentator, and a host of an online daily Starcraft show, the Day Daily. While he doesn’t sync music in his videos, he often chats with the audience telling them what bands he’s been listening to lately. During one of his videos he mentioned a Blue Sky Black Death song and as a result, the comment section on that song’s YouTube video was inundated with people saying “Day sent me!” A lot of new Blue Sky Black Death fans were made that day because of Sean Plott.
There is an enormous fashion and beauty community on YouTube and some, like Jenn Im of Clothesencounters, are getting really creative with the music they sync with their videos. Instead of using repetitive royalty-free tracks they seek out remixes on Soundcloud, get permission from the artists, and edit their fashion videos to really fit with the track. Other beauty YouTubers, like Michelle Phan, will seek out indie musicians, use their music as a backing track to their tutorials, and link to their channels in the description box.
So, how do you approach YouTubers? First you need to do your research. Know what kind of videos they upload, their personality and style, and what kind of music they have used in the past. Gaming YouTubers may have completely different musical tastes from the beauty gurus. Next, figure out which track would be best-suited for their purposes and contact them directly. You can do this through Twitter, a YouTube message, or an email. Most YouTubers list their email addresses in the “About” tab. Make sure you keep their audience in mind. Try to target YouTubers whose subscriber base shares traits with your fanbase. The key here is to start small and work your way up. You won’t get much traffic coming to your site from the smaller YouTubers, but it’s just one step on the ladder.
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