Last week a client related an anecdote that made me laugh and shake my head in disbelief. It went along these lines: traveling with a group of vastly-wealthy business folks, she listened as they spoke about taking advantage of YouTube’s popularity to make money. Lacking a creative bone in their bodies, these folks spoke about YouTube as if it were a stock market. It was all about buying and trading assets seemingly predicated on what they’d heard about the success of PSY.
It would be a disservice to say that what happened with PSY was easy. It involved a lot of planning, thought, and effort to see success. Certainly no one involved in the project knew they’d have the most popular video ever once they were done. I’d wager that wasn’t even the goal! Still, creating one fantastic and successful Pop music video isn’t terribly difficult on YouTube. The top 30 videos of all time are all Pop music videos. The VEVO service built over YouTube is also built over the mass-market musical machine. Making these videos successful is easy in the sense that how to do it is widely known and accounted for in the music industry. This is not helpful to the vast majority of artists, labels, and music business being done out there that isn’t Pop music.
While the basic fundamentals of YouTube are easy to understand, being a continuing YouTube success story is work. Work that’s largely unknown in the existing music system. It’s the execution of those fundamentals where you get bitten in the ass if you’re not careful. Days of video and miles of type have been created to explain video SEO (search engine optimization) and channel optimization. Advice on creating and executing ideas is centuries old. Being part of a scene, well, that should be in the DNA of any artist or record label, so what I’m about to walk you through should only be foreign in detail, not concept.
The scene aspect is where the music industry often falls short on YouTube, much like our millionaires above looking to make a buck on the latest thing will fail. One industry acquaintance of mine dismissively referred to “those YouTube people” during a discussion we were having about the service recently. While I didn’t have time in that particular discussion to make this point, I certainly can here. Those YouTube people are the future. They are the future of how the platform is used and ultimately how music will be successful there. It’s time to pay attention.
A good and relevant first stop for exploration is musician Jake Coco: