Press Play: What Musicians Can Learn From YouTube’s Gaming Community


The last time you heard from me on The Daily Rind, we did an in-depth look at the LGBT community and some of the lessons this dedicated community could teach you about your own YouTube business. This time, I’ve decided to take a look at an even larger community that’s still growing in number and cultural cache every single year: video gamers.

Gaming is one of the biggest categories of content on YouTube, and gaming-focused services like Twitch.TV have been on the forefront of pushing live streaming into the mainstream. What strategies do gaming companies and individual gamers use to craft an audience on YouTube, and what lessons can we learn from them in the music industry? What opportunities are there for collaborations between these two verticals?

If you are active on YouTube in May or June, you probably notice quite an uptick in video-game related content. Every year, the video gaming industry gathers in Los Angeles to preview new games, hardware and innovations for the upcoming years. Just a few years back, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, also known as E3, was a more closed-door affair, with the general public receiving information based on journalists recollection of the conferences. However, since 2015, E3 has officially partnered with YouTube, effectively allowing any internet-connected gamer to watch the entire conference, live. Companies like Nintendo have even used YouTube to buck tradition and skip out on a keynote presentation entirely. Instead Nintendo has opted for a slick, tightly-edited video sharing upcoming video games at a rapid-fire pace and a live stream with several hours of hands-on gameplay footage of the previewed titles as well as interviews with developers.

There are a number of lessons to take from E3 and Nintendo. First, remember that YouTube has the ability to make any event a much larger affair. With some prep work, just about anything can be streamed: an announcement, an album release party, a concert, an interview, the list goes on. Especially as you grow your fanbase and gain a national or international presence, a live event can be an invaluable way to gather a wide variety of your fans to hear your latest news or single. As Nintendo demonstrates, you can even rework an event, specifically, for digital consumption: channels like our own BalconyTV have shown the potential of live performances filmed sans audience, with a focus on aesthetic. Without having to coordinate an entire audience, the freedom to experiment with the visual aspect of your performance is greatly enhanced. Even a setting as simple as the artist’s bedroom or living room can create a more compelling visual piece for your fans.

Of course, we’re not all giant corporations with marketing budgets, so it’s equally important to look to the self-starters of the video-game-streaming world for some tips on how to grow an audience and expand your brand. Perhaps the most important component of the YouTube gaming community is interactivity. This seems obvious in the case of multiplayer gaming, but it’s visible in other aspects of the community as well. YouTube gamers tend to be very active in their comments section, constantly asking their fans for games they’d like to see, issues they’d like to discuss, collaborations they want and more. Especially when you’re just growing a channel, these one-on-one interactions with a fan in your comments can really make the difference between a casual listener and an invested fan. Even taking a few minutes to say “Thank you” to someone who loved your song can make a big impression on a fan. It can be a bit harder to pull off in musical creation, finding ways to allow your viewers to guide your content (“What song should I perform next week?”) can also help you develop a closer one-on-one relationship with your fans.

Next time you’re on YouTube, take a look at the YouTube gaming hub, which collects content from both independent YouTube users and members of the video game industry. Note how often they publish content, what kind of content they publish regularly and what large tent-pole events they shape their programming around. With a little bit of creative thinking, you may just find a new idea you can use to expand your reach on YouTube.

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