More Than Music Videos
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As a music marketing consultant, I spend a good chunk of my day working with artists and their teams to figure out how to make their music stick. The trend right now is to market at the distribution level — give content away to Apple or Spotify in hopes of playlisting, follow closely the best practices prescribed by Amazon or Pandora for support, work with SoundCloud on something creative etc.
While that’s all important stuff, the platform that’s most underleveraged and misunderstood by labels and artists is YouTube. Why?
In 2018, YouTube made up almost half of all on-demand streaming time. And in that same year, 95% of the most watched videos were music videos (source: Music Consumer Insights report, IFPI 2018).
While most music marketers and labels (in American at least) are hyper-focused on Spotify playlists, specifically getting on esteemed Spotify editorial playlists, they’re ignoring the big traffic play.
Spotify editorial playlists represent anywhere from 5–25% of an artists Spotify streams. Even if it’s the upper limit of 25%, that’s 1/4 of 1 streaming platform that you have very little if any control over so, basing a marketing campaign around that is risky and shortsighted.
Take YouTube representing 47% of streaming time, you’re talking bigger numbers. Getting the YouTube algorithm to work for you is a bigger opportunity for scale than blowing up a Spotify curator’s inbox to get on their list week in and out.
It’s a much better entry point for discovery than audio playlists…
Our visual memory is more powerful than our auditory memory. Humans recall memories from images better than they do words. Visuals add a new sense for connection and narrative elements further emotionally hook a new listener.
If you have the option of introducing a new listener through video on YouTube vs. audio playlist, your ability to elicit memorability will happen through video every time.
Latin America was the fastest growing territory of music consumption in 2018, according to the IFPI 2019 report, and YouTube is the undisputed titan of the region: 68% of Mexican under-45's watch music videos on YouTube, outstripping even radio. The same year K-Pop artists saw 100 million streams France, Peru, Turkey, and Canada largely thanks to short-form video going viral. And in India, 225 million people used YouTube every month.
So, with that how do you actually succeed on YouTube? A combination of frequent publishing + diverse, engaging content.
The More Pls YouTube Content Strategy for Artists and Labels
The ‘More Pls’ YouTube content strategy is a framework of 7 video formats that create an insatiable pipeline of video to fuel artist growth
Hero content to emotionally hook the listener to a specific track or project produced for promotional use.
- Official asset
- Performance element
- Sets the mood
Official music video — visual images interpreting the lyrical content and themes of the song used to promote a single track.
Livestreams & sets — asset used to promote the live show and sell tickets to tour.
Cover — artist performs track of another’s. Great covers are usually those where the new artist can outperform the vocal or arrangement of the original, breathing fresh air into a familiar track.
Lyric video — official lyrics presented. Generally a more cost-effective solution to an official music video.
Visualizer — animated visual to accompany the song in place of static artwork for streaming purposes.
Get people talking about the song or artist by creating controversy.
- Strong, singular viewpoint
Reviews — artist rates and/or critiques something familiar.
Gossip — rumors, beef, scandals, and paparazzi to keep artists in headlines.
Conspiracy — extreme counter arguments on hot button issues.
Entertain audiences by leveraging popular culture.
- Human nature
- Speaks directly to viewer
Unboxing — detailed look at a product, i.e.: merch, vinyl, cassettes, and other physical packaging. Captures artist or fans first response.
Discovery — finding a new artist or song for the first time.
First Listen — response to an anticipated release or artist.
Help existing fans or fans on the fence better understand the artist’s brand/lifestyle and music.
- Artist talks directly to viewer
- Simplifies complex subject matter
How to play — Geared towards hobbyist musicians and people interested in the technical aspects of popular music.
Artist breaks down the production, chords etc. of a track.
Or details their process for educational purposes while at the same time exposing their brilliance.
Choreography — teaches the viewer how to replicate dance moves in an official music video or performance.
Lyrics — meaning and symbolism behind lyrics.
Get the look — shopping hauls to reproduce an artist’s fashion and/or beauty looks.
Provide insight into artist personality by entertaining the viewer.
- Viewer rooting for the artist
- Physical, mental or emotional barrier
Ability — mental, physical or emotional challenge of a seemingly difficult task.
Game — truth or dare, artist is given choice to complete.
Competition — pitting 2 or more participants together to win something.
Provides an entry point to the artist by providing a summary of the artist’s work or tying them to a wider, more accessible theme.
- Subject matter spans wider than artist’s own world
- Taps cultural trends
Best of’s/favorites — summarizes tracks into a mood, event or themed list.
Haul — artist buys a bunch of things and explains why they like it.
Compilations — multiple tracks curated for a theme or discography highlights.
Create an emotional connection to the artist by showing their perceived human side.
- Interviewer and interviewee
- Audience gains insight to little known things about a familiar subject matter
Q+A — interviewer asks a set number of questions to investigate one or many storylines.
Behind the scenes — artist shows viewer the peek behind the curtain to a particular video, tour, home or love life, or shoot.