This year, YouTube celebrates a decade since its launch in February 2005. For those of us who were scouring the internet for videos from the very beginning, you know how much has changed since YouTube’s start-up days. This is especially true when it comes to music. From cover songs to music videos that went viral, the video platform not only changed how we discover music, it’s also created new revenue streams for talent. Let’s take a look at 10 milestones that shaped the YouTube music business as it exists today.
Can you imagine what the world would be like without this guy? Whether you’re clicking on suggested videos, searching for that awesome band that opened the show last night, or browsing the platform to find pretty much anything else (literally), YouTube has proven to be an incredible discovery tool for all its users. It’s a priceless avenue to success for previously unknown singers and musicians, athletes, pop culture icons, models, and comedians.
2. Music Videos
Once upon a time, everyone wanted their MTV. The Buggles’ aptly named “Video Killed the Radio Star” would appear as the first of many music videos on MTV that day in 1981. Nowadays, music videos have become an art form — an essential part of any artist’s career that provides visibility and exposure to an audience already bombarded with content. YouTube has gladly taken over as being the go-to spot for any and all music videos. Remember this classic?
3. User Generated Content (UGC)
YouTube makes it possible for anyone to create and publish video content over the internet. It’s never been easier for fans to engage with music and promote their favorite artists by creating videos around their music. UGC is now a huge business opportunity and a major revenue stream for content creators.
4. Content ID
The evolution of UGC triggered a need for YouTube to detect the use of copyrighted material and monetize in favor of the label and recording artist. To do this, YouTube created a technology that scans videos uploaded to YouTube against a database of files that are delivered by content owners.
5. Rights Management
With the development of Content ID, creators are now able to decide what happens when users publish a video on YouTube that matches their copyrighted material: monetize, block or track — and much more beyond that.
6. Multi-Channel Networks
YouTube reached a new level of prominence and credibility with the introduction of Multi Channel Networks (MCNs). MCNs first introduced the concept of a collective group of channels that operated much like a TV network. The shift brought new possibilities to content creators as well as helping scale the YouTube business model to new heights. (Did you know The Orchard was a top-ranking MCN?)
7. Live Experiences
We’ve all tuned in to or at least heard of live streamed events happening on YouTube. Typically, we associate these events with entertainment. However, recognizing the global reach and level of engagement that can be achieved through YouTube’s built-in audience (especially our younger generation), public figures such as President Barack Obama have validated the significance of YouTube by using The White House’s Channel to stream events including the State of the Union Addresses, Weekly Addresses and even a live Q&A sessions.
8. Adopting Mobile/Multi-Device Experience
With the internet’s rapid shift toward mobile, YouTube was quick to adapt and evolve their platform. By completely redesigning the platform in 2013, YouTube redefined how video was consumed on multiple-devices. New mobile and smart TV apps revolutionized the viewing experience along with a brand new way of shooting video on the go with the YouTube Capture app.
9. Creator Space
YouTube can attribute much of its growth and success to the creators who have embraced the platform. To support and nourish this avid community, YouTube has made strides to provide production resources that improve accessibility and creativity through its Creator Spaces. Now with locations in New York, Los Angeles, London, Tokyo and São Paulo, YouTube has made producing top quality video a global endeavor.
YouTube provides real-time analytics. Content creators can monitor their content’s performance and draw conclusions based on up-to-date metrics and reports. Audience retention, traffic sources and demographics are but a few of the categories in which insights can be drawn to improve content performance and viewership.