5 Ways to Optimize Your YouTube Channel as a Musician: The Advanced Guide

5 Ways to Optimize Your YouTube Channel as a Musician: The Advanced Guide

Search engine optimization may not be the be-all and end-all of successful video marketing. However, if you want to gain competitive advantage and maximize your exposure on Google and YouTube, optimizing your channel can go a long way – especially over the long haul.

When you really stop and think about it, video in and of itself has very little or no SEO value. That’s because video, much like audio, doesn’t contain text. When a search engine crawls a website, it decides what your articles or blog posts are about based on the text you provide them with.

So supplying adequate textual information for your videos is smart, particularly if you want to make them search engine friendly.

Interestingly, embedding YouTube videos on your website can be beneficial for your SEO, and part of that has to do with the fact that Google owns YouTube. Another factor is that you can supply more keyword-rich information on your blog by adding a description, a timeline for the video, show notes, or the like.

Presented here are five ways you can optimize your YouTube channel.

1. Brand Your Channel

While there may not be any direct SEO advantages to branding your channel, you can set yourself up as a destination rather than a portal when you take the time to customize the look and feel of your channel. A residual benefit is that you will keep your viewers on your channel for longer, and dwell time is an important SEO factor.

Create customized channel art to reflect your branding, cross-promote your social channels by liking to them, and place calls to action strategically. As an artist, you can leverage this space to promote your latest release, get people to “like” you on Facebook, subscribe to your channel, or ask them to sign up for your newsletter.

You can also customize the colors on your channel to match your brand and/or your website.

2. Optimize Your Uploads

Take the time to add a title, description, tags (I usually limit myself to about five and use the most relevant ones first), and pick a relevant category (most likely “Music”) for your videos. There is a reason why YouTube wants you to fill out this information, as these are the most important snippets you can provide for SEO purposes.

You don’t want your video title to be me_playing_guitar_0035.wmv or equivalent. Your headline is valuable SEO space. Include the most relevant keywords and terms you want to target and rank for, and make sure the title actually matches the content contained within the video.

For example, if you’re uploading an acoustic cover, include the song title, artist name, and your artist name as well (including the word “cover” might also be a good idea). On the off-chance people are actually searching for you specifically, you want to be discoverable as well. Here’s what that might look like:

Optimizing the title of your YouTube video

Igor Presnyakov always has great titles for his videos.

Use the description field to link up to your website and other relevant links (point people to where they can buy your song, album, etc.). The link to your website should include the “http://” portion and be on the first line of the description.

Add a reasonable amount of descriptive text, detailing what the video is about. The description may be secondary to the title, but you can still use the description field to further outline what your video is about, and search engines will use that information to catalog your content.

Tags are also important search tools. On a blog, they are used to categorize different posts based on the content they contain. For example, if you had 300 posts published, and 30 of those talked about social media, you would tag all 30 of those posts with “social media”.

Relevant tags for artists might include things like genre or musical style, mood, year, artist name, record label, etc.

3. Interact

Though it can take a great deal of diligence, another thing that can make you more discoverable is being a part of the community and interacting with other content creators. YouTube has built-in commenting, liking, subscribing and sharing capabilities. Using these on a regular basis will make you more visible to other people.

Proactively commenting and liking videos, as well as subscribing to channels will cause you to pop up on other people’s radars more often. People may also find your comments and want to check out your channel. As for sharing – well – that’s mostly for Karma. But some content creators will really appreciate the fact that you shared their video and will want to interact with you.

4. Create Playlists

Use playlists to categorize the various videos you have on your channel. For example: acoustic covers, live performance, music videos, tour diaries, etc.

For one thing, cataloging your videos into playlists allows you to add more descriptive text. Each playlist not only has a field for a title, but also for a description (take advantage of these).

Another advantage of creating playlists is that people may choose to watch all of your videos within that playlist in one setting, and who doesn’t want more upload views? If they really like you, they will subscribe too!

I’ve talked briefly about the power of Spotify playlists as well, and the same idea does apply to YouTube. You can create your own curated playlists, include a few of your own videos, and get more views that way too.

5. Create & Optimize Your Google+ Profile

Maybe I’m wrong, but it still seems like you need a Google+ profile to create a YouTube channel. I know they were talking about decoupling Google+ from other Google services, but I don’t know how far along that process actually is.

Anyway, there are still some benefits to creating and optimizing your Google+ account (I know, it might seem crazy). For one, whenever you publish a new video, you can have it auto-pushed over to your Google+ profile. That can help it get a few more views, if nothing else.

You might have noticed that Google also uses your profile picture as your “channel icon”, as they call it. As with your cover image, this is a really important piece of branding, and not using it to your advantage would be a major mistake.

And don’t forget – you can flesh out your Google+ profile, use relevant keywords in it, link out to relevant websites and social media profiles, and so on. Maybe it’s not all it’s cracked up to be, but this is the advanced guide to channel optimization after all. This could end up helping you, even if it’s just a little bit.

Final Thoughts

Although I did cover this topic on the blog quite a while back, I thought it would be worth sharing an updated guide on the latest best practices.

Not a whole lot has changed since I published that article in 2013, except for maybe the amount of content that’s on YouTube, which is growing at an insane rate, by the day.

When I first started creating video game related content for YouTube in 2009, getting thousands – and sometimes tens of thousands – of views wasn’t that hard. Today, I would consider several hundred views (like 400 – 600 views) a success.

So if you want to make the most of YouTube, just be aware that it can be hard to get attention for your content. Now is the best time to go niche, because now more than ever, people want to watch content that’s relevant to them, and not just anything.

Well, I guess cat videos will always have their place…

The Difference between Fixed Beliefs & Flexible Beliefs

What you believe affects what you do. This is not a terribly profound thought, but I’m sure you would agree that it’s an important one.

As I continue down this path of music industry consultant/advisor/helper, I’ve come to recognize an even deeper truth – that there’s a significant difference between fixed beliefs and flexible beliefs.

Both types of beliefs are valuable, but when applied incorrectly, they can hinder your growth and limit your progress and potential.

Let me share with you what I’ve been learning about belief systems and how this concept can change your reality.

What is a Fixed Belief?

A fixed belief is whatever you consider to be absolute truth.

This does not need to be an objective truth, because many of us believe things that can’t be quantified or verified. It’s whatever you believe to be true.

Here’s an example of a fixed belief that would serve you well:

I believe in the Law of Gravity.

Since walking off of a tall building or a cliff would send you plummeting to injury or death, this is a good belief to have. Violate the law at your own peril.

Here’s an example of a fixed belief that could cause you to miss out on opportunities:

I believe in prioritizing music conferences over anything else in my music career.

On the surface, it seems like a good belief. In my book, The New Music Industry, I even talk about the importance of going to conferences and events and what they can do for your career.

But if you believe that there’s nothing more important than music conferences, you will prioritize them over everything else, including: career-building gigs, the signing of a major label contract, licensing or placement opportunities, and so on.

A belief like that could end up negatively impacting your career. Because it’s a fixed belief, it’s much harder for you and others to challenge and debunk.

Now you know both the pros and cons of fixed beliefs.

What is a Flexible Belief?

A flexible belief is something you regard as being true, but not absolute truth. You’re open to new stimuli and feedback that could add a new layer to the belief.

Here’s an example of a flexible belief that would serve you well:

I believe in the importance of networking and meeting new people.

Meeting new people can open doors to fresh opportunities. People work with those they know, like and trust, so as you build more relationships, you may see your career prosper like never before.

One of the reasons this belief works is because there are no priority statements attached to it. You’re not saying it’s more important than anything else (but you might want to – for example, it’s probably more important than talking to your friends on Facebook).

Admittedly, this belief can also be a dangerous one, because if you have a good experience, the belief will become stronger. If you have a negative experienc, it could weaken. You must be careful with where new information takes you.

Here’s an example of a flexible belief that’s more likely to have negative consequences attached to it:

I don’t believe seatbelts are all that important.

Since it’s a flexible belief, you’re at least open to new information that might tell you otherwise. The problem is that, by the time the feedback has shown up, it might be too late – it could be after you’ve flown through a windshield.

Now you know the pros and cons of flexible beliefs.

Why is This Difference Important?

We are all living out our beliefs. And as I said at the outset, what you believe influences your actions.

Both fixed beliefs and flexible beliefs have the potential to bring about a great deal of joy or pain. As such, they need to be applied carefully.

I’ve experienced a great deal of pain because of fixed beliefs that did not serve me. When it became apparent that I could no longer hold onto these lies, I was forced to reexamine my convictions, and had to come to new conclusions about what was true.

Many of these assumptions come from our upbringing: parents, teachers, coaches, pastors, the media and so on.

It’s not that your parent, teacher and mentor figures were ill-meaning. Quite simply, they may not have been aware of how their philosophies were flawed. They may not have been willing to accept evidence to the contrary either.

That’s the main danger of fixed beliefs – you keep holding onto philosophy that doesn’t serve you, even though it’s long past the point of hurting you and eroding your confidence.

Meanwhile, flexible beliefs have allowed me to adapt as necessary. They have allowed me to stay open to new information and stimuli that might reinforce and validate the belief, weaken it, or destroy it completely.

It might still hurt when you’re wrong, but not as much. You stay open to new feedback, because that feedback allows you to learn and grow.

So while there are some dangers to be avoided with flexible beliefs, it usually comes from being too casual or unintentional about it.

Why You Shouldn’t Settle

Fixed beliefs are often comfortable. It’s comfortable to believe that your religion is right because your family always believed in it. It’s comfortable to believe that life is the way it is, and you have no control over it (i.e. victim mentality).

Flexible beliefs allow for continual growth. It’s not about replacing an old belief with a new one at every turn, but rather about having the willingness to challenge assumptions. And, as you begin that process, you start to see that there are a lot of things from your past that aren’t adding any value.

When and where possible, fixed beliefs should be applied to things that are outside of your control and flexible beliefs should be applied to things that are within your control. But even that isn’t a perfect system.

Final Thoughts

Too many fixed beliefs do not serve you as an artist. Now, it might sound tiring to continually ask questions and challenge yourself, but it will help you remain open to new possibilities. It can also work as a feedback mechanism for when an alternate course of action (one that’s different from the one you would normally choose) could be a better one for your life or career.

I can’t tell you what’s right for you without knowing the specifics of the situation, and even then, it’s based strictly on what I know about you. But understanding the difference between these two belief systems could help you eliminate obstacles from your path and cause you to have breakthroughs never before imagined.

David Andrew Wiebe Releases New Single, “Don’t Wait Too Long”

David Andrew Wiebe Releases New Single, “Don’t Wait Too Long”

So far this year, David Andrew Wiebe has released two singles: “Fragments” and “City Lights”.

Due to a cold, his monthly release schedule was delayed somewhat with his latest single, “Don’t Wait Too Long”, but sure enough, the wait wasn’t too long (get it?), with the single only coming out a month late.

Wiebe has described the single as “power pop”, but it might also be accurate to call it Synthwave much like with “City Lights”, owing in part to its 80s influence.

Most notably, Wiebe is back to singing again. Both “Fragments” and “City Lights” were instrumentals, but on his latest single, fans finally have the opportunity to hear his voice on a recording once more – and it isn’t worse for wear.

The delay may have also had something to do with the layered vocal sound heard in “Don’t Wait Too Long”, in addition to the complexity involved in mixing and mastering a song with so many layered tracks.

We caught up with Wiebe to talk about his latest release, and here’s what he had to share with us.

Why did you decide to record “Don’t Wait Too Long” specifically?

I’d actually tossed around a bunch of different ideas. I thought about putting together another Synthwave/Retrowave track like “City Lights”. I thought about writing a quick acoustic song, or pulling one from the archives.

But production on “Don’t Wait Too Long” was already underway, so even though I knew it would be a little more intensive in terms of the work involved – layering of guitar and vocals – I decided to stick with it until it was done, which I think was the right decision. I sometimes waver in choosing what to record, but I’ve found the only way for me to get new music out is to commit to the project from start to finish.

As with “Fragments”, it’s something that had been sitting in my archives for a while, so I thought, “no time like the present to get it done.” I had the melody and the lyrics for the chorus, so it was just a matter of fleshing out the rest of the song.

What is “Don’t Wait Too Long” about?

Well, it’s open to interpretation, at least to a point. I think it’s fairly apparent that it’s a song about holding true to what you believe in.

For me, it was about a bit of a dark time back in 2011, when one of my roommates was going through a crisis, and he was questioning my belief system at every turn.

And to question your beliefs is definitely a healthy thing to do – it’s something I’ve been doing more of lately – but not when it’s imposed on you by others. Hurting people hurt people, and that’s part of the reality we have to confront as human beings. That’s the situation I was in.

Paradoxically, others telling you that they want to kill themselves is a form of abuse. You can’t necessarily talk them out of it, and when they insist on their view of reality, they project their beliefs onto you. You’re not in control of what they do.

How is “Don’t Wait Too Long” different from previous releases?

Maybe not in every conceivable way, but it’s quite a bit different from anything I’ve ever put out as a solo artist. One way of looking at it is that it’s a combination of “Fragments” and “City Lights”, except with vocals. The last two tracks I released didn’t have vocals on them, and the thing about instrumentals is that they’re really hard to get people to listen to them unless they’re really strong melodically. From that standpoint, “Don’t Wait Too Long” is maybe a little more accessible.

My friends all tell me that it has a strong 80s sound to it, and Jonathan Ferguson even said that it was the most 80s thing I’ve ever recorded. I don’t take that in a bad way at all, and it proves to me that I’m maybe not capable of creating much that doesn’t at least have a bit of an 80s spin to it. So in that regard, it’s more of the same. But from the perspective that it’s basically an upbeat electronic power pop song, it’s different from anything I’ve released to date.

Why did it take longer to record “Don’t Wait Too Long” compared to the last two singles?

From a production standpoint, there was certainly more to the song compared to other recent releases. I layered more vocal parts than I’ve ever done on a recording. Guitar wasn’t too intense, except for the solo, which is synth and guitar in unison.

I’d composed the solo before I’d ever played it on guitar, so I knew that it would be kind of weird, timing wise. In the end, I couldn’t get the timing down on the first part – which is mostly chromatics anyway – but the guitar joins in for the last 60 to 70% of the solo.

What gear did you use to record the single?

MOTU UltraLite-mk3 Hybrid, Ernie Ball Music Man Axis, Zoom G3X guitar effects and amp simulator (that’s right, no amps on this recording), Tracktion T5, all the usual stuff really.

For the mic, I’m using a RODE (of course) Procaster. I also have a NT1-A, which I love, but I’d read that the Procaster also makes for a great vocal and instrument mic, so I said, “why not?” Plus, it’s a dynamic mic, so it cuts down on unwanted noise. I’m pleased with the results.

I’m gradually upgrading as I go, so the next single will probably be recorded on Tracktion T7 along with some new plugins. I’m also interested in miking up my guitar amp (Peavey head and Orange cab) to see what that sounds like, so it’s possible I’ll be going back to a more organic sound for future releases that feature electric guitar.

Where can people find “Don’t Wait Too Long?”

All the usual places, really – CD Baby, iTunes, Spotify… take your pick. I distribute my singles as far and wide as I possibly can, so you could also do a Google search and see what comes up (but remember to search for David Andrew Wiebe’s “Don’t Wait Too Long”, specifically).

There are no physical copies of the single, because I don’t think that makes any sense right now. But it’s possible that, when I have enough music, I’ll put together a compilation of the songs I’ve been recording, and put them on a CD.

5 Common Mistakes Made by Independent Musicians

Hey, independent musicians! This post comes to us from Nick Rubright, founder and CEO of Dozmia.

No matter how smart we think we are, not one of us is exempt from making mistakes. It’s what we do with those mistakes that matters. Nick shares some important insights into what we can learn from the mistakes others have made. Let’s get into it!

Statistically speaking, most musicians never make a living off of their music.  Many experienced musicians see mistakes they’ve made early in their career as a learning experience, but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your best to avoid unnecessary errors by learning from those who’ve gone before you.

Here are five mistakes independent musicians often make early in their careers that can easily be avoided.

1. Not Becoming a Great Marketer as an Independent Musician

Too many musicians focus only on their music, thinking a label or manager will get their music in front of new fans, or that simply uploading their music to SoundCloud or YouTube is enough.

Waiting around to be discovered doesn’t work. There’s simply too much music out there.  On SoundCloud, 10 hours of audio is uploaded every minute, and almost none of those songs ever get a large number of plays.

Having an understanding of different music marketing strategies can set you apart from the large number of musicians who follow the “if I upload it they will hear it” strategy, and give you a huge advantage when it comes to making a living with a career in music.

There are a number of resources available online that offer valuable tips about marketing your music.  Here are a few to get you started:

These are just a few, but there are many other blogs about music marketing and business strategies that you can read to educate yourself on ways to grow in the music business.

2. Prioritizing Social Media Over Email

Social media is great.  It allows you to share your music in ways that gives you the potential to reach a large audience.

Here’s the thing, though – email beats social media in nearly every metric.  On Facebook, organic reach can be as low as 2%, and only a small number of those people will actually engage with your posts.  Twitter’s organic reach is better than Facebook’s, as they show tweets in real time, but engagement is still below 1%.

With email, on average, musicians receive an open rate of 22%, and a click-through rate of 3%.  This is better than similar metrics on any social media platform.

The problem with social media is this – as more people use a platform, more content is shared.  When more content is shared on a given platform, there’s more competition for your posts.

With a mailing list, you own your contacts, and have much more control over the presentation of your message.  Additionally, your emails are sent directly to subscribers of your mailing list, so your reach is nearly 100% when sending an email.

Keep focusing on social media as a promotional channel for your music, but focus more on successfully building an email list.

3. Not Understanding the Importance of Album Art

Many newer musicians think if their music sounds good, people will listen to it.  So  they upload their music online with low quality images that resemble that of a social media profile picture.

However, in the age of online streaming, people are often exposed to your album art before your music.  Music recommendations on streaming services prominently feature album art, especially on browse and “related artists” pages.

If your album art is bad, people won’t click it, and they’ll never be exposed to your music.  They’ll scroll past your album without a second thought.

Put as much focus on your album art as you do each song on your album, and your music will perform better online.

4. Touring Before Building a Local Following

Touring is extremely expensive and requires much more planning compared to playing local shows.  Oftentimes, musicians make the mistake of touring too early – before they have a strong local following.

When you go on your first tour, you’re going to want local artists to open for you so you can draw a good sized crowd.  If you don’t have the following in your own city to help out other artists, it’s going to be harder to convince them to help you out.

Build your local fan base, then once you’re well-established in your market, start touring to grow in other markets.  You want to have as many fans as possible, but in today’s music industry, it’s important that your fan base is densely populated.

5. Thinking a Record Label Will Make You Famous

Many musicians put out song after song, hoping that one day they’ll be discovered by a big label that can work their connections to build their fan base.

This is unrealistic.  Because of the decline in music sales, record labels have a low risk tolerance when it comes to signing new artists, and typically want to sign acts that already have a growing and engaged following.

Record labels are great – they provide funding for you to focus on music, as well as marketing and tour support, but these things work best when working to accelerate your growth as a musician as opposed to devices that help you launch your career.

Using SoundCloud to Launch Your Music Career

Hey guys, this guest post comes to us courtesy of Matthew Yeoman at Devumi.

SoundCloud is a fantastic platform for promoting your music. But you can’t just upload your tracks an expect people to find your music. You have to be proactive about promoting your tracks. So, let’s learn how to use SoundCloud to launch your music career.

Let’s face it: Your fans, no matter how loyal, are going to go online and listen to your music for free at some point. It’s just going to happen. You’ve done it. I’ve done it. Let’s recognize it and see if there’s a way to turn it to our advantage.

One way to do this is to steer people away from using torrents, which you have no control over and get no information from, and get your fans to use SoundCloud instead. This online music hosting platform has many features to it which you can use to control how people listen to your music, get a little data, and maybe one day make money from it using On SoundCloud Premiere’s revenue sharing.

Let’s look at how you can best use SoundCloud to build your career from the basement and bars, to the penthouse and stars.

Use SoundCloud to Build Your Career in Music

Unique Features are Suited to Today’s Internet

Yes, I know that there are other music streaming services out there. A problem I see with them is their poor social integration, as well as how they create walls around your music. Both of these limit fan interaction.

Take Spotify as an example. You have to sign up for an account before you can listen to a track. Aren’t you sick and tired of having to sign up for everything online? Especially something you’re not sure of? I know I am.

Imagine going to all the work of recording a song, that perfect song that fans will love, only for some of them to be turned off by a signup screen. You don’t have that problem on SoundCloud. Anyone can listen to this track right here without a problem:

Just press play. No signups. Your new fans can get right to listening to your tracks and figure out whether or not they want to sign up.

The next aspect of SoundCloud that helps it excel can be seen in this image:

Commenting on SoundCloud

Look at the little images along the bottom. Each of these comments are from a user that has signed up. Comments can be made at specific moments in the track, giving you some insight into what your fans are thinking about specific aspects of your music.

Now you, as a young musician trying to build a rabid fan base, have the chance to interact with fans. You may forget this, but Kanye West built his early career on interacting on a more personal level on his blog.

Right here, on SoundCloud, with your fans having their say, is where you can build a “blog” on SoundCloud one reply at a time. If you ever forget how important it is to interact with your fans, get out of the music business.

Sharing on SoundCloud is easy too. Below every track you’ll see a Share button. Anyone can press this and share it to the social platform they prefer:

Embedding tracks from SoundCloud

It’s easy, it’s done with a button that’s clearly labelled, and your fans will use it. Here’s that same song being shared on Twitter using the Share button:

Fans are given a general template of what will be said when they share a track, and they can add their own comments to it as well. It does all the “work” of sharing for your fans, offering you more chances to be seen online.

Build a Large Following to Build Your Future

Following artists on SoundCloudThe size of your following on SoundCloud is everything. The more you can get people to push that orange follow button, the more your music career will open up. It signals to even more fans that they should follow you, it signals to other artists that they will want to work with you, and it signals to music labels that they should sign you.

Getting SoundCloud followers is an entire article unto itself, feel free to follow that link to learn more. I’ll summarize the first steps to follow here:

  • Real world: you’re going to have many opportunities in the real world to push your SoundCloud profile. Put your address in your band’s promotional material, on your merchandise table, on your receipts, and don’t forget to scream “Listen to us on SoundCloud!” before the end of your show.
  • Website: once you start uploading tracks, you’ll obviously want to push people to your SoundCloud account for a follow. One of the best ways to do this is to embed a SoundCloud track right on your homepage, preferably your most current one, and use a big “Follow us on SoundCloud for our latest track!” call to action.
  • Social Media: everyone has social media accounts. Start pushing your followers and friends to go to your SoundCloud account. These people already know who you are. Your most difficult challenge on SoundCloud is to get those first few followers, and you need to utilize your current audience as best you can to get your account kick-started.

Every chance you have to push your account, and drive your follower numbers, is a chance you have to take. Followers are going to be your currency for future influence, and for making money down the line no matter how you plan to monetize.

Take Control of What’s Downloaded

Remember at the start of this article when I talked about how everyone has listened to music for free online? We all know, like we know when we’ve stepped on burning hot lava with no shoes on, that the music industry has changed because of torrenting and P2P.

SoundCloud has acknowledged that downloading happens, and they have given you some level of control over your downloads. You choose which songs can be downloaded and which can’t. There are many ways you can go about this:

  • Let fans download recordings of concerts, and save your albums for purchasing.
  • Let fans download your big hit, but keep your full album for purchase only.
  • Release rare tracks and unreleased songs.
  • Test out a new song before you let it go big. Ask for feedback.

There are as many ways to use track downloads as you can think up. With this control you can learn what is and isn’t working via the statistics which SoundCloud collects for you. Your fans, meanwhile, feel like they’re getting a little extra from you.

It can also act as an incentive as you have to be signed into your account to download. Once they’re signed in they can follow you on SoundCloud. Use calls to action on social media to highlight the tracks you have available to download, and encourage follows that way.

SoundCloud Launches Music Careers

All you need in the music business to succeed is consistent promotion, a platform to host your music on, and a huge fan base. SoundCloud allows you to do all of this, and more, thanks to how it was built. Be sure to use:

  • The unique features of SoundCloud.
  • Follower growth tactics across the online and offline worlds.
  • Your downloads as an incentive to follow.

Last, don’t forget to embed your tracks everywhere you can, whenever you can. It’s simple to do (paste the URL on a line by itself in WordPress, or use the “Embed” tab in the Share window to paste the HTML), even a marketing writer can do it!