12 ways to promote your music on YouTube in 2022
Learn how to promote your music on Youtube from experienced artists and content creators.
A guest post from DITTO MUSIC.
2+ billion users. Yep – that’s how many people currently use YouTube in 2021, making it (just behind Facebook) the second largest and most popular social media platform in the world. Not to mention it’s owned by Google – the number one site on the internet – so yeah there’s that too.
YouTube itself has even implemented features that make it an essential platform for self-promoting artists and musicians – YouTube for Artists, a built-in analytics section, customizable profile options – you name it. So why wouldn’t a musician want to take advantage of this kind of promotion? Honestly, you’d be silly not to. And if you’re reading this post, we know you’re not of the silly sort.
Why are videos so important for promoting your music?
Well, much of the reliance on video and visuals comes from their ability to establish a quicker and more meaningful connection between a song and its listeners. Plus, you can get paid every time someone watches your music video.
And don’t forget, Ditto can get your music videos on Vevo, putting you in an even better position for views, engagement and more potential royalties when people watch your vids.
With that said, here are 12 surefire ways to boost your visual presense and promote your music on YouTube.
1. Optimize your channel profile
First impressions count. Big-time.
Hit the ground running by taking the time to make sure your YouTube channel is well-presented and pleasing to the eye.
If possible, you should try to get an official YouTube artist channel. Aside from that, we’ve created a handy checklist to cover the basics.
Has your channel got:
– A well-designed & optimal sized YouTube banner image
– A great profile photo or logo
– Well-organised content – i.e. content arranged into playlists or thematic sections for specific kinds of videos (‘official music videos’, ‘official remixes’ & ‘live performances’)
– Links to your social media and official website
– High-quality thumbnails – either ones suggested by YouTube or ones you’ve customized yourself, via apps like Canva & Adobe
As you can see below, Becky Hill’s channel meets all of the requirements.
Profile image, banner and social links
Organised channel content & quality thumbnails
A great onscreen aesthetic can be the difference between viewers deciding to stay on your channel and have a mosey around, or leaving before they’ve even put two feet through the door.
2. Spread the word
Just because you’re trying to generate an audience on YouTube, doesn’t mean you should slack on your social media strategy.
Instead – you should take advantage of online groups and communities as an opportunity to interact with different people, topics and interests.
Think about how you could add value to these group dynamics. Does your video deal interact with certain topics or themes that are relevant to this group or community? If it does, then that’s great! Post your video and encourage people to check it out and don’t forget to upload an eye-catching thumbnail.
This also means being on all the most important social media platforms to extend your reach, create hype around upcoming projects or developments, share your music videos of course, and come up with other forms of engaging content.
You can also prepare cuts of your music video to be utilized as teaser content for use across your social media – either as a 15 seconds Instagram story or a 30 second Facebook post.
Here’s an example from Justin Bieber, who created a teaser version of his music video for 2012 track “Boyfriend”, which he posted across his social channels as well as his official YouTube.
This gives people a sneak peak into your video which will help build anticipation and direct people to your YouTube channel to view the full thing when it’s out!
3. Interact with similar YouTube channels
One of the main ways to promote engagement with your channel is to engage and interact with other channels that are similar to yours.
You can’t promote yourself all day every day to be effective. You need others – people who you can partner with to add value to your own offering.
Similar channels are the ones to target, because if they’re posting similar music to yours and people are subscribing, you’ve basically found your target audience!
So build a network with other musicians on the platform by finding channels that play your style of music and take their content seriously.
You can do this by simply searching YouTube for similar artists or general vibe of music.
Say your music is Lana Del Rey related, then look for YouTube channels that are orientated to that vibe – so either artists like Lana Del Rey specifically, or indie dream wave more generally.
You’ll find a whole bunch of channels that feature that kind of music…
Then you can get to liking & commenting on similar artists’ YouTube videos. Curate some really standout comments that’ll get you noticed by other artists and YouTube users alike. And if your comment blows up, it could get pinned to the top of that video, putting your channel in a prime viewing spot!
But don’t sleep on your own! You need to cover ALL ground. Which means inciting conversations in the comments section of your own videos. Whether they’re old videos or new ones, there’s always a conversation to be had.
4. Schedule your videos
Create a consistent and regular upload schedule, so fans and subscribers know when to expect a new video from you.
This isn’t about posting videos left, right and centre – in fact, it’s the opposite.
It’s better to over deliver than underdeliver. So don’t set yourself up to post three videos a week, miss two of them because you were busy on tour, and leave your fans feeling hurt and disappointed because you missed a deadline.
The frequency of your video posts is entirely up to you. But it’s a good idea to post at least once a month, so fans don’t drop off while they’re waiting for your new video release or question whether your channel is still active.
As you can see, Lil Nas X regularly updates his YouTube channel on a 3-4 week basis, posting consistently and never leaving his fans questioning his next video drop.
Posting during peak times of the day is also really important to make sure your videos reach the maximum number of people as possible.
You can’t really blame fans for not tuning into your latest vid if you posted it in the middle of the night or when they’re out getting loose on a Friday night!
So as a general rule of thumb:
The best time to post to YouTube during the week: 2 – 4pm
The best time to post to YouTube on a weekend: 9 – 11am
5. Create engaging video content
Your YouTube channel shouldn’t function as simply an archive for your tracks. It needs to do more than that.
It should feature other content that will add value to your music and your fans viewing experience – particularly content that enables them to connect with you on a deeper level.
Brainstorm some content ideas ahead of time to help you organise the content on your channel and what types of videos you’ll promote.
Here’s some ideas to get you started:
– Q&A/get to know sessions
– Live video streams
– Playlist series or sessions
– Teasers/behind the scenes clips
And if you’re really stuck for ideas, the analogy to follow is: multiple videos, one song.
What do we mean by this?
Well, you can get at least 2-4 videos out of each of your songs by simply repurposing the original content.
Think: official song release, lyric video, collabs, acoustic/acapella/remix versions and so on.
Pop music powerhouse Ed Sheeran is a prime example of reusing similar content to make it stretch further – in the form of remixes and acoustic sessions of his tracks…
Plus his more personally curated content in the form of behind-the-scenes videos and his take on YouTube shorts, #SheeranShorts…
YouTubers and artists are constantly finding new and creative approaches for making engaging content. So take note and try it for yourself!
6. Find your audience (or pinch someone else’s!)
When you’re just starting it, it’s unlikely you’ll have a good enough subscriber or fan base to get you that level of exposure you want. So you’ll have to build one.
Finding your audience or finding your niche, is thinking about where – either online or offline – people who appreciate and listen to your kind of music hang out.
Think social media platforms, online and offline communities etc. Approach these people either directly, or by sending them a link to your channel and a polite note to check out your stuff!
And there’s nothing underhand about pinching someone else’s. Most of the time, building an audience comes from tapping into an existing audience of music that’s already popular.
One of the number one ways artists have done this in the past, is by making a cover video of a well-known song by an artist who already has a big subscriber base.
Boyce Avenue are one example of a band who rose to fame when they posted covers of famous 90s bands and artists such as Oasis, The Goo Goo Dolls and Avril Lavigne.
Truth is, people rarely pay attention to an artist they’ve never seen before. Sometimes it takes that artist to play a song by their all-time favourite artist for them to simply sit up and take notice (harsh but true!).
7. Use YouTube SEO
In simple terms, SEO or “Search Engine Optimization” is about using phrases and keywords that people search for within your video content.
By tapping into what people are searching for, you can almost guarantee to get an increased number of views and fans.
Get started with Ahrefs free keyword explorer!
With YouTube, you can take advantage of keywords by…
– Using keywords and search phrases in the title of the video
– Using keywords and search phrases in the video description
– Using tags that help describe what your video is about e.g. “independent music” or “indie”
Now when it comes to choosing which keywords to target, just remember while certain keywords may have a high search volume, they may also have a lot of competition. It’s best to try and target words that are less competitive to make sure your video actually has a chance of getting seen!
Top Tip: Consider SEO when it comes to choosing your song titles.
Generic titles like ’Love Song’ or ‘Heartbreak Song’ are really overused and therefore highly competitive. So try to be a bit more original.
If you’ve already chosen your song title, you might want to consider a name change when you post it to YouTube, even if you don’t change the song’s actual lyrics (it’s legal, we promise!).
8. Find out what’s #trending
Take advantage of current trends that match your style of music and what you stand for.
You could see huge fanbase growth off just one really trendy video. So next time something happens and you find it interesting, make a music video about it. You’d be surprised how much creative room you can also hold onto while taking advantage of a trend.
Maybe you’re tapping into a new crocs trend (nice). That doesn’t mean you have to write lyrics about a pair of crocs literally. You could write a song on what they represent in terms of nostalgia and childhood memories for example.
Another example is the use of short-lived dance fads within a music video – think Gangman Style, Single Ladies, Vogue.
Trends and fads come and go, but the overnight exposure you could get from tapping into a short-lived trend, can actually have a long-lasting impact.
9. Track your analytics
Find out who’s viewing your video, where they’re viewing it from and how long they’re viewing it for.
You can then use these figures to see which of your videos are most highly in demand and then try to make content that is similar to that one.
YouTube has its own built-in analytics section which you can access from the ‘YouTube Studio’ section of your YouTube profile.
There’s a huge array of useful reports that’ll provide you with all the information you need to make tactical video marketing decisions. Including info on:
– Watch times
– Traffic sources
– Audience demographics
– Playback locations
– Audience retention rates
– Subscriber rates
10. Use CTAs in your videos
Having a ‘Call To Action’ or CTA in your video is a way of directing users to do something before, during or after your video.
Whether that’s subscribing to your channel so they never miss a new video, prompting them to watch another video similar to this one, or encouraging them to go elsewhere to your official website.
These can take the form of:
A pop-up during the video
A link in the description bar
A link at the end of the video
11. Collab with other YouTubers & influencers
Just like networking with other musicians on YouTube, it’s a great idea to get collaborating with YouTubers who aren’t necessarily artists in their own field, but are instead powerful music influencers in the creative video industry.
Search YouTube accounts that do reaction videos or TikTok creatives that review people’s music or video content.
See if they’re open to posting a link to your channel somewhere, hosting one of your videos, or giving your video a review. If it’s a popular channel, that’s really good exposure. And if they like your music, they’ll most likely do it for free!
One such example is @bakuriftu – a TikTok creative whose regular content includes a mix of new artists, music spotlights, sample breakdowns and record reviews of new music. @bakurifuto
With over 92K followers and 2.2M likes, influencers like this guy are now the modern music tastemakers.
So connecting yourself with the right people – for little to no money – is a great way to trade traffic with these big creatives!
12. Paid YouTube Ads
Up until now, all the methods we’ve talked about have been organic – i.e. ways you can grow your audience organically (all hard work, 0 dollar bills).
And while organic methods have proven really effective, we can’t overlook the value of using YouTube paid advertising as a powerful tool to promote yourself on the platform.
YouTube allows you some fantastic targeting options and you can optimize the budget you set out for this feature.
If you haven’t already, you can get started by signing up for a Google Ads account.
Start by testing the waters with a relatively low budget. See what sort of return you get and you can then use this feedback to inform a basic ad strategy that you’ll use to increase your visibility on the platform. It’s all about experimenting with different formats to see which ones work the best for promoting your music!