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2024 YouTube Best Practices

2024 YouTube Best Practices

YouTube is essential to the ever evolving digital music landscape. And the Orchard is happy to provide our 2024 YouTube Best Practices, where you can learn about new features, branding tips, and how to reach your goals successfully. 

Channel Features & Optimizations

It’s important to provide an overview of who you are, what your channel is about, and what kind of content you have to offer. Strong branding is the start of captivating your audience and potential subscribers. 

Official Artist Channel vs. Verified

Official Artist Channels (OACs) aggregate content & subscriber count from various YouTube artist channels (official YouTube channel, Vevo channel, and Topic channel) into one place. 

Verifications are for label and non-artist channels that reach 100K subscribers to easily signify to viewers the channel is an official channel.

2024 YouTube Best Practices

2024 YouTube Best Practices

Channel Art

Establishing your brand with channel art aids in making the audience feel like they’re connecting to a personality. You can do this by utilizing an aesthetically pleasing banner and icon. 

The icon is how you’re recognized throughout YouTube. It should be clear and able to be seen in smaller resolutions. The recommended formats are; JPG, GIF, BMP, or PNG (no animated GIFs); 800 x 800 px image; square or round image that renders at 98 x 98 px

The banner should be used as a billboard to market recent releases, tours, upcoming collaborations, and more. Additionally you can overlay up to 5 social links in the banner to drive traffic to other social media profiles, official websites, streaming platforms. Banner art looks different on different displays – desktop, mobile, TV – so for the best results on all devices the recommended format is; 2560 x 1440 px image; 6MB or smaller.

2024 YouTube Best Practices

Channel Trailer

The channel trailer is featured first on the channel and auto plays therefore it’s an elevator pitch to potential subscribers. There are two customizable views for subscribed users and unsubscribed users. For returning users, add a release or a playlist as the Featured Video and for new users add a channel intro or your most popular video.

Channel Shelves

Below the channel trailer are the channel shelves and these sections are the main organizational tool for channel homepages. 

2024 YouTube Best Practices


Playlists can be a series, albums, lives etc. and are an essential part of the channel strategy as they increase watch-time and create another asset that will be shown in search results and Suggested Videos. 

Create playlists using videos from the channel and/or videos from other channels. Use a strong title and description to help people find the playlist. Direct viewers to the playlist with cards, end screens, community and links, etc. You can also view a playlist on a shelf as well as put multiple playlists on a shelf.

You can now turn existing playlists into podcasts by going to YouTube Studio > Content > Playlists, hover over the desired playlist, click the menu, then set it as a podcast.

To remove podcasting features from a playlist go to YouTube Studio > Content > Podcasts, hover over the desired playlist, click the menu then select set as playlist.

2024 YouTube Best Practices

Channel Description

Channel descriptions are used to populate SEO and can be added in the “About” section in the YouTube creator studio. Keeping branding consistent across the channel is important for audience familiarity as well as to communicate officiality. 

2024 YouTube Best Practices

Additional Features

Handles are short identifiers distinct from channel names (ex. @Ozuna) that you’re able to see in comments, mentions, and Shorts. 

Channel Tags help surface channels in YouTube search and algorithms. Adding relevant keywords such as the year, genres, albums, geography, song titles, common misspellings of popular song titles. Channels with irrelevant tags will be penalized.

Video Optimizations & Features

Video Optimizations

Video optimizations are pieces of metadata for your video discovery

Titles give viewers a sense of what to expect. Titles should include the type of video and mention other artists or channels with an @ symbol (ex. Artist – Song (Official Audio/Video/Lyric Video/BTS/Live @ X/Series Name/Vlog)

Tags are descriptive keywords you can add to your video to help its discoverability. Tags should include a mix of general and specific relevant keywords.

Descriptions are a key source to utilize SEO. The first two sentences are shown in search and should include important keywords and links to subscribe, to all social platforms, to other videos/playlists, to merch stores, as well as mention other artists. Add song lyrics and hashtags (the first 3 will be shown above the video title) without spaces (ex. #NewMusic #Album #Event).

2024 YouTube Best Practices

You can now use a transcript button which can be found underneath the description section of a video and allows you to view a real time transcript window on the side of your video. 

Video Features

Cards make videos interactive. Up to 5 cards can be added per video and they can link to sites (merch, streaming, donation sites, tour tickets, playlists, etc), or promote relevant videos, playlists or other channels without having to stop the video.

Cards Summary appears below the video description.You can view the card summary by clicking on the “i” (info) button in2 the top right corner of the video or simply by scrolling down.

End Screens appear at the end of the viewers current video and help curate and lengthen a viewers watch session. Up to 4 elements can be added per video (subscribe button, playlist, link, or a video). 

Thumbnails are the first image seen in Search and Suggested Videos so they should be bright, clear, on-brand, and attention grabbing. 

Subtitles open content to a larger audience to include those who don’t speak the language or those would prefer lyrics on screen.

Branding watermarks allow users to subscribe to the channel without leaving the video.

Merch Shelf allows eligible channels to display an official merch shelf below videos as well as on the Store tab. To see if your channel is eligible, go to Creator Studio > Monetization > and see if there is a Merchandise tab available. 

Video Chapters break up long-form videos into selectable sections to improve viewers’ experience and increase watch time. Chapters can be entered manually or automatically assigned by YouTube and appear on the video timeline. To add video chapters, enter the chapter title in the description and place the timecode of the chapter start time in a HH:MM:SS format.

Engaging With Viewers

Community Tab

Community tab is YouTubes social media feed and a great way to engage with viewers. Posting on the community tab keeps the channel active in YouTubes algorithm between uploads. Engaging with posts by liking and reply to comments fosters a more connected fanbase. Types of posts include polls, quizzes, open questions, Q&A, and scheduled content. 

You can now:

  • Edit images for Community on the YouTube interface with filters, text overlays, emojis, etc.
  • Share disappearing posts on Community which enables creators to set a time limit on their post of 24 or 72 hours.

YouTube Premiere

YouTube Premiere lets you and your viewers watch and experience a new video together in real time.  

Live Redirect is a livestream pre-show event that automatically “redirects” the viewer to your Premiere after the live stream has ended. 

Trailers place a pre-recorded 15 seconds to 3 minute hype video that will be played on the watch page in advance to the Premiere.

Countdown Themes and Custom Countdown gives you the option to choose from a range of themes, vibes and moods to personalize the viewer’s Premiere countdown experience. Custom countdowns must be submitted to YouTube no later than 72 hours before the Premiere.

YouTube Afterparty

YouTube Premium afterparties are live streams featuring artists, reserved for Premium subscribers. Afterparties offer an interactive experience for viewers to engage with artists through video feeds and live chat.

  • Traditional Afterparty: Where Afterparty is live right after a Premiere.
  • Flexible Afterparty: Where Afterparty goes live up to 7 days after Premiere.
  • Premiere Afterparties: Can be a Premiere instead of a livestream for pre-recorded content. *NEW*

Existing VOD Afterparties: Afterparties attached to existing VOD as a mechanism to promote pre-existing content. *NEW*

Super Chat & Super Stickers

Super Chat allows viewers to pay for their messages to be highlighted and pinned to the top of the live chat box on a livestream or Premiere video. The color of the chat and amount of time pinned to the top depends on how much the viewer spends.

Super Stickers are digital or animated images viewers can purchase to pop up in the live chat feed and pinned to the top of the live chat box.

YouTube Giving

YouTube Giving allows creators to support the charitable causes they care about. Eligible channels can fundraise for nonprofits by adding a donate button to their videos and live streams. Viewers can donate directly on the video watch page or in live chat.

*Super Chat and Super Stickers aren’t available on live streams with Live Chat Donations. 

YouTube Live

YouTube Live provides a way to directly engage with fans and viewers. For live production, make sure encoding software is set up and the preview works. If streaming from mobile, turn that phone to landscape for the best viewer experience. Lives are scanned by Content ID, so it’s important to only stream content you own, as claims from third-party rights holders can result in the stream being interrupted.

Best Practices:

  • Before: Promote the link across socials, Community, other videos, ask fans to hit “Set Reminder”, chat on the livestream to ensure fans are tuned in prior, utilize YouTube features: trailer video, playlists, end-screens, cards, polls
  • During: Repost on socials / cross-promote with other artists, engage directly with fans, answering questions, chatting in the live-chat, monitor live-chat for anything inappropriate
  • After: Include in playlists, add end-screens/cards, promote from other videos, tags, descriptions, create more content derived from the stream or fan-spotlights, review analytics to see how to improve the next stream

YouTube Studio Mobile App

The YouTube Studio Mobile App is where you can edit video info, set video visibility settings, and keep up with channel analytics on the go. Additionally you can monitor likes and comments and respond directly from the app.

YouTube Shorts

YouTube Shorts is a simple way to create and ingest short-form content on the YouTube platform. Please refer to our YouTube Shorts 2023 Playbook for the latest details and information.

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