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Why I Think Video LPs Are A Good Idea

Yesterday I uploaded what I’m calling a “Video LP” for my album Erase This to YouTube. [watch it here] The Video LP consists of eleven different videos (one for each song on the album, and a personal introduction from myself), tied together by a YouTube playlist that will automatically roll through all eleven videos, in order, with the click of one button.

For Fans

For music listeners and fans, the Video LP (LP referring to “long playing”, the name given to 12” vinyl records in the 40s) is a great format for sampling an entire album before making a purchasing decision. It’s similar to streaming the entire album on my website, but better. The Video LP format allows for on screen lyrics and all of the liner note artwork typically associated with CD and record sleeves. You won’t find that on most streaming mp3 players.

Additionally, because each song is its own YouTube video, songs can be favorited, commented on, embedded and shared easily, in a format that listeners/viewers are already familiar and comfortable with.

For Musicians and Labels

For artists, the Video LP is a great way to share your music while being able to brand and monetize the entire experience. When fans embed mp3 players on other sites, you lose almost all branding, and definitely aren’t able to monetize those streams because they are happening outside of your website. This is not the case with Video LPs, as the embedded video can be visually branded, and, if you’re a YouTube partner, your ads remain inside the embedded video player, so you’re paid for every single stream of your song, whether it happens on YouTube, your website, or a fan’s blog.

While most musicians see free streaming as a loss leader, or necessary evil in marketing, the Video LP format could change that. Not only do you get all of the advantages of free streaming, but there are none of the disadvantages. The Video LP can now be added as yet another stream of revenue for artists. My Video LP received a total of over 4,000 views in just the first 12 hours. Every single one of those views was monetized.

Video LPs also have a much higher chance for discovery. Unless your website ranks incredibly high in Google search results for common keywords like “free”, “streaming” and “music”, your latest upload probably isn’t reaching too many new fans. YouTube, however, is the best kept secret in searching. YouTube is the second largest search engine – only beaten by its owner, Google – meaning more people search on YouTube than on Yahoo or Bing. That’s insane. It also means YouTube is the perfect place for your new music to be found. And with less competition from white hat and black hat SEOs, you may just find your Video LP clips placing relatively high in YouTube’s search results.

For those of you concerned with YouTube’s compression quality, if you stream my Video LP at 720p (or in “YouTube HD”), you’ll hear they are roughly equivalent to 256kbps MP3s.

The Main Advantage

The final main advantage I find is that, while I don’t have any hard data to back me up, I know personally I would subscribe to someone’s YouTube channel before I’d subscribe to an RSS feed for a blog. And given that I spend more time on YouTube than I do in Google Reader, I’m also more likely to see a YouTube update than a new blog post. This would allow for continued video updates about new tours, recordings and merchandise for sale.

I’m failing to find any disadvantages here, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on the Video LP format. Again, you can view the Erase This Video LP here. Share your thoughts below.

Alan Lastufka is the President and co-founder of DFTBA Records. His label was named Best Online Music Label of the Year by Mashable in its first full year of operation.

DFTBA is an initialism for “Don’t Forget To Be Awesome”.

Lastufka can also be emailed ( or followed on twitter (@AlanDistro).

Reader Comments (21)

This is a great idea Alan, thanks for sharing this! Quick question though: how much money do you make from ad placements as a Youtube Partner?


February 1 | Registered CommenterJonathan Ostrow

Cool idea. Any more info about how to make the visual URLs in the YouTube video itself?

February 1 | Unregistered CommenterKent Sandvik

Hey Jon, I can't say exactly as I was one of the first partners and have a contract with YouTube that forbids me from saying publicly. But from what I understand, the average is $2 CPMs on YouTube. It's not great, but it's better than nothing, especially when music videos can reach into the tens or hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube. I just looked and EIGHT of the Top 10 most viewed videos of all-time on YouTube are music videos. =)

February 1 | Registered CommenterAlan Lastufka

Great Experiment
But you know Its easy to Rip Youtube vids into Video files for Ipods,iphone,etc, or into MP3's
So why would anyone go to ITunes?

I think you've started something awesome. but there IS a disadvantage
keep posting what happens.

February 1 | Unregistered CommenterDiggiti

Nice stuff. Ive seen David Choi do it before, but it wasn't until you said it in this article that it really hit me :P

I guess Ive got some stuff for my to do list.

February 1 | Unregistered CommenterADAMHOEK

Great idea. I also would love to know how to make them

February 1 | Unregistered CommenterCary

Brilliant! Two questions, First how do you become a youtube partner. Second what if you don't have the money to produce a professional video for each song in your album.

This kind of thinking is the kind of stuff i really enjoy reading. Great Job!

February 1 | Unregistered CommenterChris

Very interesting and very inspiring! Would really appreciate some nuts and bolts "how to" info in the future. (Especially helpful for us older-gen folks trying to get up on the wave who feel like we're drowning in the digital surf. Since it's not the water we were born in, it seems harder to stay afloat.)

Anyhow, we're currently, madly trying to put videos behind nine of our space-related science songs that are going to be part of a Smithsonian sponsored exhibit called "Beyond" in Petaluma, CA this May through July. A video LP seems like it might be a great vehicle for the completed works.

Best of luck with your projects. (I'm very much enjoying your music!)


February 1 | Unregistered CommenterKathy Ocean

You could get something done with iMovie video-wise. Or if you purchase and learn Motion from Final Cut you could do lots of special effects very cost-efficiently.

February 1 | Unregistered CommenterKent Sandvik

Hi Alan,

I really like this idea. The only question I have is: how did you make the (very good looking) startup video where you (?) explain the general idea and added the clickable graphics?

I googled for it, but all I could find where "how to make annotations" or "how to insert a clickable link in the video description" tutorials. I may just not know the right term to search for!

Can you explain this to me?

Thanks :)

February 1 | Unregistered CommenterSami

The only reason I bought Erase This was because I'd heard it on the DFTBA Radio Hour, and then I only bought the song's they'd played. Only when I know for absolute certain that I really love an artist will I buy an entire album without listening to any of it.
The same goes for books.

I think this is especially the case with us young people who have limited income: we want to make sure we'll love the stuff before we spend our money on it, since we have little extra to spend frivolously.
So I vote affirmative for Video LPs.

February 1 | Unregistered CommenterOlivia

Great post! I really like this idea. Maybe a silly question but what is the easy how to for creating a video LP on YouTube? I've tried to put mp3's as videos to YouTube, never has worked. Would appreciate the help! Thanks Alan! -jillian.

February 1 | Unregistered CommenterJillian

Hey guys, I hear you all on the "how to" info. I will write a follow-up post with info on how to create and link all of these videos. May even make it a video tutorial.

February 1 | Registered CommenterAlan Lastufka

Great info! I never would have thought of becoming a YouTube partner. Also, I didn't think about using playlists in that way. I'm definitely stealing your ideas!

I love this idea. But my understanding is that you already need to have thousands of subscribers and views to get Youtube Partner status. Making the videos and adding the links is pretty easy, but unless you're a partner you can only link to other youtube videos or playlists you cannot link to external URLs. That's a shame because it would be nice to be able to have a big buy now type button that took people directly to your website to purchase the album.

Anybody have any experience applying for Youtube Partnership? Does anyone know how exactly what is required to qualify?

Thanks for sharing!

February 2 | Unregistered CommenterMatt Stine

Hey I stumbled this!

Here are 2 of my playlists I created months ago: and!

This article is a good read! I'll incorporate some of the tips in my next works!

February 2 | Unregistered Commenterdigitalni

My wife's vid got offered partnership at about 16,000 views. Just get the views and it'll happen at around that number.

Me too wanting the how to.

Great idea. It's pleasant letting it play without babysitting after every cut.

February 3 | Registered CommenterMartin Blasick

I think this is brilliant. The use of a Youtube's playlist feature in this way is totally innovative. I've been thinking for some time that advertising had to play a significant role in the future of the music business but until now, I've been stumped on how that could work. I think you may have broken the 3 minute mile with this one Alan.

February 6 | Unregistered CommenterJeff MacDougall

I have two YouTube channels with over 3.8MM views now (south9border, south9entertainment). I applied for nearly four years and was only just recently accepted into the partner program. However, I think they are really expanding membership now. My first experience was when they approached me to run ads on a "Four Loko" rap video I directed and posted. So I think they look for videos that have some commercial appeal first, then I would just suggest persistence and keep applying until you get accepted. Clearly you need a base of videos and views, plus should be regularly posting new material.

February 6 | Unregistered CommenterDave Patten

Alan, thanks for this idea. I built a page on my Web site around the playlist -- check it out:

February 22 | Unregistered CommenterBen Bruce

Wow, what an eye-opener! Thanks Alan : )
It really seems that audio is no longer enough, if we have multimedia capabilities at our fingertips then why not use them? YouTube is the most popular of all music consumption websites because it combines sound with images; a good piece of music (aided by the correct amount of wine : P ) produces this effect in our own heads, but most of us can't afford to drink wine everyday, and not just for financial reasons!!
A tutorial for creating links in a YouTube video would be a saintly gift, I have never seen that before. I can understand how to create the links in Flash or Fireworks but what has me stumped at the moment is how you anticipate the URL that YouTube will apply to other videos in your playlist? Surely you would have to know the URL's that you will link to when making each video?
Great article and would love for you to share your knowledge in the same way that you have shared your music. Very inspiring stuff, your example has lifted my spirits after reading several articles which almost initiated the frequent thought pattern "Stop this music game and get a real job" : D I don't want to do that! This is my life : P

March 1 | Unregistered CommenterSam Green

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