Making Money With YouTube Merch Annotations

Youtube-annotationsBy The Orchard's Mike Baldo from The Daily Rind.

Life on YouTube for musicians is tough. There’s a lot of competition out there: other musicians, YouTube superstars, cat videos. And the whole time your goal is to get fans to buy your music. Besides monetizing through ads, there aren’t a lot of other ways for musicians to earn revenue. Enter merch annotations.

Merch annotations allow musicians to drive album sales directly through clickable video overlays. These button-style links are fully customizable and can be placed at any time during a video’s duration. Armed with the ability to link directly to an album purchase page, musicians can strategically convert casual viewers to paying customers.


YouTube is becoming a key discovery resource for musicians. Fans often spend hours browsing music content because YouTube’s catalogue is massive and free. Relatively unknown artists have made it big through YouTube. For artists like this, fans might not know exactly where to find the album if they’ve just found out about the artist. Merch annotations present the opportunity for a newly engaged fan to buy albums or tickets right at that moment of discovery.

Try out a few to see what works best with your viewers. Watch your analytics closely. Notice a drop-off in viewership on a video? Try adding a merch annotation at exactly that spot to convert a viewer exit to a sale.


YouTube monetization can be a frustrating platform for musicians to grasp at first. You’re trying to sell records not views right? While channel traffic adds a lot of value to your brand, album and ticket sales are paramount.

If you have an engaged audience on YouTube, they’re likely looking for more from you. What happens when a viewer watches one of your music videos? They stare at the screen, drum on their desk for a bit, video’s over, then they leave (or subscribe!). That viewer clearly likes your music, why not try and sell them your record?

Place a merch annotation in the top right corner of the video or in an end card with a link to your album on iTunes. Whether they click it or not, at least you’re presenting the opportunity. Remember, these are customizable and can be changed or removed at any time. Get creative. Can you think of a way to tease your new album with a few cool videos before street date? Add merch annotations linking to the pre-order and you might just get a surprising response.

Try them out! Here’s how you can get started with merch annotations.


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1 Comment

  1. I feel Youtube is a really dodgy place to go about marketing a song to try and get paid downloads. Of course, the exposure it offers is amazing but people will either illegally download or just go to Youtube when they need it. For people it has become too easy to not pay for songs.

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