First, the bad news: You won't make any livable wage monetizing YouTube videos until you start raking in views in the hundreds of millions. So that's the bummer. But, the good news is that you don't have to rely solely on monetization to make YouTube work for you. There are lots of examples of bands and artists who have used streaming video to get their names out there and launch their careers onto other more lucrative platforms. Here are a few ways to yield desirable results from YouTube.
Make no mistake. Gathering subscribers is important. Create your channel, make delightful viewing material and call your viewers to action by encouraging them to subscribe. (Just don't expect to make noticeable amounts of money directly from YouTube doing this.) You have to say the words too. Here's why: In most cases, people hear about a great video. They go watch the video. They move on with their day. The end. Don't let this be your viewers. At the end of your video, thank them for watching and then say, "subscribe!" It's that simple. You could add a please for good measure. Or confetti. Just make sure to say the words!
Every subscriber you procure is now your fan.
They have taken time to subscribe and this means they like you. Congratulations! Now it's time to tell them how they can listen to your awesome music wherever they go, by driving them to your website or digital storefront to buy tracks they can't get on YouTube. You may want to incentify people to subscribe by giving them a coupon code to save a dollar off your album (which is sold only on your website or Amazon, right?). Or maybe YouTube subscribers get access to extra video content or mp3 tracks that your average schmo can't get. Hock your interesting and hilarious t-shirts and bumper stickers by sending these captive fans to your shop. Your subscribers will not necessarily arrive at the brilliant decision to visit your website. You must invite them to do so.
Make Lots Of Interesting Content. Lots!
There are many reasons to have a prolific amount of content. One of the reasons is this: the more you're out there, the more you increase your chances of getting subscribers. You'll reach people you wouldn't normally have access to through other outlets – especially younger music fans. YouTube is the most listened to music platform. The most!
Gathering more fans from the juggernaut of all music conduits can help you completely bypass a music label – like so many other successful musicians have – and allow you to do music on your own terms. Or maybe you want a music contract. Perfect! Having a huge number of subscribers can only help your cause.
Having a large subscriber following also means drawing the attention of potential sponsors. These sponsors can pay thousands of dollars for one video that includes a mention or placement of their product. This is not a farfetched pipe-dream, either. Sponsors are well within reach. It's hard work, of course. Nothing worth doing will ever come easy. (Sorry.) But, the rewards include garnering a larger fan base and getting to make a living from your music and videos.
What to Post?
So now that you know why tons of content is a must, let's talk about what you should post. Your video subject matter should be as diverse as you and you're music, but you don't overthink everything. Sometimes these videos are just something fun – a day-in-the-life bit or a tutorial of some kind. This may feel beneath you or pandering, even. But, try to keep an open mind about this. It's not selling out. You're not giving into the man. You're dominating various digital avenues so that they work for you!
So get creative. By all means, post your music, your shows and your studio time. But, also remember that people love getting to see behind the proverbial curtain a bit. Talk to your fans and let them see your fun side. Cover your favorite popular songs. Reveal to them your stupid human trick. Do skits. Get viewers to vote on which guitar strap or pair of skinny jeans you'll wear at your next performance. Video your band's trust exercises or day of water skiing. Whatever. You're imaginative. Just give the fans what they want and make lots and lots of content.
There's another perk to posting tons of videos: If you haven't created a YouTube channel or your haven't been posting very much, creating a lot of content will also help fast track the process of gathering subscribers and getting noticed by sponsors.
It's time - your time. Start using YouTube like the music business tool it is!