Optimizing for Better Discovery = How To Get Found
YouTube just released a Playbook Guide for musicians, and it’s a great guide for an indie band or musicians hoping to get their music videos found in the endless stream of of bands on YouTube.com. All this week, I’ll be publishing parts of the guide with ideas for how to get found based on YouTube’s advice, and please, everyone feel free to work in their ideas in the comments on what they found has worked for them (or not worked). Today’s topic is “Optimizing For Better Discovery,” i.e. how to get found on YouTube and how to create a better experience for your fans. You Can find a link to the Playbook Guide For Musicians at the bottom of this article.
Single Channel VS Multi Channel
Your YouTube channel is like your own TV station, but instead of having one feed like broadcast or cable TV, you get to break it down into different sub channels for a better experience. So then you can figure out the best plan of attack: what sub-channels do you create and how do you go about making new videos for it in the future? You could always just mainline it and have just one channel for simplicity, but this makes it hard for your viewers to sort through what you have. This creates an opportunity for different ways of delivering to your audience. Some ideas for subchannels:
Have a friend or band manager shoot a song from a prime location in the audience with a good mobile phone and HD video. Or, why not plug into the soundboard and record the show and then put that on YouTube as an audio piece? You could do this with all of your shows and tell the audience to find the show on YouTube ... then they'll all go blog about the show they saw (with your YouTube clip as part of the post) and spread the word about your band.
Clips From The Road
Why not offer up short videos showing life on the road? You could show backstage moments and the craziness you encounter at each venue, "life in the van" moments to describe the experience of what it's like to travel. Fans have no idea of what you experience as a touring band and even the most mundane and boring moments will be interesting to your audience. Efterklang did this while travelling through the northern US this winter (see below). Not on tour? You can even do this from a local performance ... actually, this might even be your best option since you can do it more often.
In The Studio
Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips is a master at this ... he doesn't rehearse or have a plan of attack, and his videos aren't long or boring. He does short clips of 10-30 seconds of something happening, and it creates a sort of intrigue. Since you're not forced to do one big epic video, you could offer up lots of frequent updates while still focusing on what you're there to do: record your music. Fans will love the updates and keep coming back to see what happens next.
Talk to the camera with updates on the band. Find to most outgoing or charismatic person in the band and have them deliver a short blurb about what you're doing in the upcoming months ... a new song, a new album, a tour. It's way easier and more personal than a blog post and better than just reading words about what you plan to do.
As always, tell your tribe to feel free to use your YouTube videos in their blogs and social media hangouts like Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook or wherever they're at. They all know this, but casually reminding them of this allows them to visualize themselves doing this and makes it more likely to happen.
Some other things that the YouTube Guide For Musicians offers up is to create an interesting thumbnail image for your YouTube avatar, it's underrated but important to getting noticed on a busy YouTube environment. Consider your latest album cover, headshot (solo performer), band logo or photo, or any art that represents you. It has to work when it's a small image so keep that in mind, and make sure that it’s not so abstract that people won’t be able to tie it to your band when they see it.
Also don't overlook the data, it's the secret sauce to getting found on YouTube. Don't do it and nobody will find your band. YouTube talks up items like the tags for band name, album or song name, similar styles of music. Think of what people would search for instead of how you'd describe your band. This makes a world of difference in people searching on YouTube, and will put you higher up in the search results. Put yourself in the mind of the person searching and think about what a potential future fan might search for and end up finding your band.