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Audits, Insights, Music Key: A Look at YouTube’s 2014

December 9, 2014 Featured News, YouTube No Comments

YouTubePlayYouTube’s been up to a lot this year, all culminating in the launch of their long-awaited subscription service, Music Key. To help you pinpoint the highlights, we’ve put together this chronology of YouTube events to note:


YouTube launched a new comment management feature, making it easier to flag, remove and reply to all the comments you get on your awesome videos. This was a direct response to channel creators requesting a solution after YouTube nixed their in-app inbox.


YouTube turned itself into an honest wom… erm… service by auditing videos and removing fraudulent views. True fan engagement just can’t be bought.


Playlists got some love with new data reports in YouTube Analytics. An essential part to your channel’s success, playlists are a great way to increase watch time, encourage a lean-back viewing experience and cross-promote in interesting ways.


Fan Insights launched, giving channel creators additional info on their most influential fans. With more than just your standard numbers, but not enough to put you in the creep-zone, Fan Insights allow you to create Google+ circles of your top fans and reward them in a personalized way for their support.


Just as February brought on view audits, June followed suit with subscriber reviews. YouTube removed all inactive accounts from subscriber numbers, inducing a slight dip in subs that month for most channels, but giving you a more accurate picture of your channel as a whole.


With mobile-everything growing in spades, YouTube launched a Creator Studio app to open up basic channel management and analytics on-the-go. Because who wants to wait until they get home to see the latest view count on that new video?


It’s not just mobile though, smart TVs are making themselves indispensable these days too. So YouTube improved its TV app – starting with Xbox One — with better navigation and channel pages.


YouTube’s Creator Academy is awesome. If you haven’t looked through it yet, you now have no excuse: as of October, it’s available in 20 new languages, including French, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Turkish, Russian and more.


Music Key lands to wrap up the year’s big events. Launched in the U.S., U.K., Finland, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain, Music Key offers features like art tracks, album playlists, topic channels and more. We’ve written about the launch, and gone into more detail on each feature, too.

That’s it! Pretty good year, YouTube. Looking forward to seeing what you have up your sleeve in 2015!

Breaking Down YouTube Music Key (A Bit!)

December 8, 2014 Featured News, YouTube No Comments

YTKeyYouTube, YouTube, oh YouTube. Why are you so complicated?

On November 12th, YouTube officially launched their much talked about subscription service. Since then I’ve had more than a few people ask me what it looks like, how it will it work and what the overall concept is. In short, it’s about a better consumer experience and another revenue stream for rights holders.

But YouTube sometimes feels like a complex web that can be difficult to get your head around. I mean, first there was UGC. Then there were partner channels. And now there’s YouTube Music Key. For anyone who already has the basics nailed, then you can probably skip this post. If however you’re feeling a little (or a lot!) bamboozled by the whole thing, I’m going to try to break it down — A BIT. This should be a starting point from which you can then build and fine-tune your YouTube Music Key knowledge.

So let’s go back to basics. First there was User-Generated Content or “UGC.” You know, Lizzy Hair uploads a video of her pet stick insect dancing around on its… stick… to ermm… Thin Lizzy. But I own the rights to Thin Lizzy [you wish], how dare that user steal my music? Oh hang on, YouTube has this clever audio fingerprinting technology that matches the video to my track and then places adverts and pays me for it. OK, as you were weird people on YouTube. Use my tracks until your heart’s content. I think we’ve all got our heads round that. Old news.

Then came channels and partnered channels, either directly with YouTube or via a Multi Channel Network or “MCN,” such as The Orchard. Now I can upload my official videos to my own channel and earn revenue on two sides — both audio and visual (even if it’s a static image). My MCN helps increase subscribers, strategise and program the channel and generally create a premium space that’s more appealing to advertisers, which in turn generates more money. And now I treat the whole thing like a social network and make it part of my frontline release campaign. I’m making more money and connecting with my audience on YouTube. Excellent.

So what the #&@$ is YouTube Music Key all about and what do I need to know? I mean, I know it’s a subscription service like Spotify or Rdio, but what’s the difference, how does it work and how can I check it out?

Well, first things first it’s important to make a distinction between YouTube as we know it and YouTube Music Key, which should be considered two separate entities, even though there is no real distinction on the platform itself and therefore, for the end user. We at The Orchard (along with other distributors) have delivered your catalogue to YouTube, as we do for any other digital retailer. YouTube has done two main things with this freshly delivered catalogue:

  1. Each track delivered has been turned into an “art track,” which is the officially delivered high quality audio and artwork and looks like this. YouTube also groups art tracks as albums like this. So now the user can listen to a complete album as they would do on other services. One of the main differences with Music Key is that where an official music video exists (delivered via a partnered artist channel), that video slots in to replace the “art track” in the album playlist. Note tracks 3, 5 & 7 on the Metronomy album.
  2. YouTube has created “Topic Channels” for artists, which are essentially a place where all interesting and relevant content from an artist lives, including “art tracks,” premium videos and even popular UGC content. Think of Topic Channels like artist pages on other services. Example: Metronomy Topic Channel

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Say More With a Lyric Video

December 5, 2014 Featured News, YouTube No Comments

LyricVideoAs YouTube carves out a larger space in the music community, the way music videos are being made and consumed is changing. With millions of artists and creators collaborating constantly, stunning music videos have been made that sometimes challenge typical production conventions. Along with YouTube’s Music Key, there are now multiple forms a music video can take. This combined with a lower barrier to entry has given rise to excellent alternatives you can consider when deciding how to publish your music on an evolving video streaming platform.

Building off of YouTube Art Tracks

With the launch of YouTube Music Key, you’ve probably started to see an influx of Art Tracks in the system (here’s one if you haven’t seen them yet). These simple videos are a great way to get your full catalog out to viewers and improve your chances for discovery. They expand your presence and give viewers more of your content to listen to. But you can do better.

Though a great addition to YouTube’s massive collection, Art Track videos provide a more passive viewing experience. Because the only visual is a static image, typical viewers press play, then move on to something else as they listen to the video in the background. This is still good because you’ve got them listening. However, it cuts down on engagement and your potential to draw the viewer closer.

A creative, yet simple lyric video could give you that extra hook to keep the viewer around your video longer. These typically incorporate animated text synched with audio to guide the viewer through each song. There are some amazing, intricate lyric videos out there, but that doesn’t mean you have to necessarily go that far with yours. A clean and punchy lyric video with nothing but colorful moving text could be all you need to get your fans following along. This sets your video aside from other Art Tracks and gives you more of a unique viewing experience for your fans.

Alternatives to the MTV-style Music Video

For better or worse, the days of tuning into awesome, cinematic music videos on MTV have been swallowed whole by reality TV marathons (RIP). These music videos still exist in part on YouTube and VEVO, but they’re being consumed and advertised against differently than in the old days, making the ROI of a huge video production more questionable. This is both good and bad news depending on how you look at it.

To produce and shoot a classic MTV style-music video costs tens of thousands of dollars. When MTV was the only way to watch music videos, this was a painful, but necessary struggle. Though these types of videos are still being made, they are no longer the unshakable standard. Since YouTube broke down the barriers of entry for publishing videos to the world, indie artists and major labels alike have found better ways to create videos for their music.

By embracing a more open community of viewers and creators, many artists have turned to lyric videos as a fast and cost effective alternative to full video production. Because lyric videos don’t necessarily require a live shoot, location, scheduling and casting can be removed from the process. With less of a logistical headache, these videos are often faster to create and publish, which is huge if tight deadlines are imminent.

Though a great animator could still run up your production costs, you at least have options and some room to work with. By keeping your ideas simple, a good animator can get you an excellent lyric video relatively quickly and for much cheaper than a traditional music video shoot. Make no mistake though, lyric videos aren’t just a cheap hack for indie artists on a budget. Huge pop acts like One Direction and Ariana Grande have used lyric videos to premiere top 40 singles, generating millions of views.

If you have the budget to hire a crew and shoot an amazing music video, by all means, do it. These are clearly the heavy hitters of the music video world, but not always the best way. Conversely, not having that budget doesn’t mean you’re limited to just Art Tracks. If you can create something in the middle with a clever, catchy lyric video, you’ve set yourself apart.

New Analytics Feature: YouTube Ad-Enabled & Ad-Disabled Streams

YouTubeAnalyticsImprovements are always around the corner at The Orchard, and our latest update involves how you view your YouTube data in The Orchard Workstation: as of this week, we’ve introduced a few new YouTube-related data channels in Analytics. Rather than lump all your views into one category, Analytics now conveys how many YouTube views are either “ad-enabled,” and are therefore eligible for earnings, or “ad-disabled.”

With that, your new channel lineup includes:

  • Ad-Enabled Audio Streams: number of audio views that were enabled to show ads
  • Ad-Enabled Video Streams: number of video views that were enabled to show ads
  • Ad-Disabled Audio Streams: number of audio views that were disabled from showing ads
  • Ad-Disabled Video Streams: number of video views that were disabled from showing ads

The screenshot below shows sample data from August 1, 2013 through August 1, 2014. YouTube data from prior to October 7, 2013 did not provide a distinction between Ad-Enabled and Ad-Disabled — thus you’ll still see YouTube analytics data in Ad-Supported Streams channels up until that date. Going forward from October 7, 2013, your YouTube analytics data will exclusively be split into the four Ad-Enabled and Ad-Disabled channels for Audio and Video streams mentioned above. For all other monetized streams coming from services like Spotify, Deezer and Hulu, your data remains on our existing Ad-Supported Streams channel.

Ad-Enabled Ad-Disabled

These new data channels provide you with a more complete picture of your YouTube business. We’ve created a one sheet with additional information about factors that may affect whether your content is enabled or disabled for ads. Feel free to open a dialogue with your Client rep and YouTube Account Manager.

Tent-pole for the Holidays: The Art of Attracting Subscribers & Advertisers

November 17, 2014 Featured News, YouTube No Comments

Holiday Tent-polingIt’s that time of year again — the time when every content creator looks to make that last big push before the holidays. Luckily for creators on YouTube, holiday-themed programming can prove to be a channel’s most engaging and lucrative. Whether you have 30 hours or 30 minutes to dedicate to YouTube before the year is up, tent-pole content is low hanging fruit when it comes to gaining not only views, but also brand new subscribers and extra revenue. Trust me, you won’t want to put this off until 2015!

So what is tent-poling? If you create a playlist of holiday jams, you’re tent-poling. If you interview an artist about an upcoming tour, you’re tent-poling. Anytime you create any new content around an event, you’re tent-poling. Tent-pole content can be useful when promoting events like tours or simply when you’d like to take advantage of the traffic around a major search term like Christmas, summer or Lollapalooza, for example.

Why do we tent-pole? Every day, countless fans use YouTube’s search engine to find quality content themed around current events. That’s exactly why creating tent-pole videos and playlists around highly searched-for events (such as the holidays) is an invaluable opportunity. It not only attracts new eyes to your channel, but it targets them at just the right time.

For channels that create tent-pole content during Q4, the benefits don’t stop there. With advertisers rushing to reel in new customers in time for the holidays, YouTube is able to serve the most ads (and at the highest CPMs) during this time of year. That makes videos viewed from October through December prime real estate for ads, and the more content you post during this time, the higher your chances of having those ads placed on your content (extra ad revenue, anyone?). Since creating tent-pole content doesn’t require the budget or editing skills that a high-definition music video does, filming extra holiday interviews or building “Best of” playlists here and there can often be the easiest way to take advantage of this period’s opportunities to attract advertisers.

Now that you’ve heard all about the benefits of creating tent-pole content, it’s time to brainstorm. Depending on the time, resources and creativity you can spare before 2015, the possibilities range from creating a “12 Days of Christmas” video series to simply building a “Best of 2014″ playlist that showcases some of your channel’s best content this year. The sky is really the limit here, so don’t be afraid to get creative.

Tent-poling doesn’t have to come and go with the holidays, either. Are your artists playing any summer festivals in 2015? Consider making a curated playlist that features all the best artists on the bill. Expecting a slow release schedule in the fall? Keep fans engaged by interviewing your artists about their worst Halloween costumes of all time. There’s already an audience searching for this content and advertisers looking to place ads on it, so you might as well be engaging them.

No matter how much time you have to spare, get tent-poling this holiday season! Consider it our gift to you.

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