When releasing new material on YouTube, it's important to remember to juice your audience at least a month before the release. Give them something to anticipate ... you could build up preview videos or streams or even do videos that talk about what's led up to the album release.
Remember, your fans have no idea what you've been through in writing music, recording, packaging up an album or planning a tour. Even the most ordinary things will seems interesting to your fans. I'm sure everyone has seen the album preview via YouTube ... most of them are generic 30 second spots with some album art. This is the boring and unexciting approach. Lyric videos, really?
1) How about a playlist of all of the songs from other artists that you were listening to when you wrote and recorded the music? Or you could do monologues or interviews to talk about what went into some of the songs: musical influences, stories or experiences that drove the lyrics, how quickly or slowly a song took shape.
2) How did it go in the studio? Was it easy an easy one or two take atmosphere or did you go CRAZY INSANE trying to perfect the right sound on just one of the background tracks on one of the songs. Did the band record live as a unit or did you do massive takes and overdubs, what’s your style and passion? Tell people this with videos. All of this will give your fans insight into what you're about to deliver ... and the songs and album can develop its own narrative as people pass it along on blogs and social media. This is how bands cultivate an image.
3) How about a one-week, limited run album stream? Let people get a taste in the week before it goes up on iTunes, Amazon and all of the other digital media outlets and real-world physical stores. Then take it down the day before the album release. Exclusivity breeds interest. If you're thinking that this will keep people from buying the album because it will be torrented and leaked all over the web: guess again. You WANT it to leak ... bands that have albums leak far and wide have better album sales because more people becoome aware of the release.
4) Release one of the songs early and ask people to create a video. It’s amazing how the web is a magnet for people that want to create things, and you’ll find photographers, independent video producers and artists who will go and build something and bring it back to you. Then in the week before the album you release, you can package all of the videos into a dedicated YouTube playlist. You can also go the audio route and ask people to remix the song.
Optimize Your Channel Page
Your YouTube Channel should be all up in album art and the look and feel of your new album. This is your chance to refresh and redefine with every new release, and it also lets people know your current vibe if they connect in via older music videos.
How Much, How Often?
Belle and Sebastian made a great and funny commentary on the state of music promotion today when they said something to the effect of ... you push out new songs, you email all the right people and blogs, you do social media PR until you're crazy ... and ... everybody's sick of hearing about you when the album comes out and leaves you high and dry.
Frequency might be the most important element for a new release. Don't bug people, or they'll block you on social media and ignore anything about you for a long time if they get too much. That said, don't go to skinny on messaging or people won't know what's happening. So where’s the happy medium? Try a couple of big deliveries each week in the month before your album release, with a major gift to your fans in the week before the release. If it feels like overload, you're doing too much.
Driving The Fan To Homebase
As much as YouTube and other outlets can be a great way to pull people into your music, always remember to drive people back to your website with all of your YouTube videos. Your web site is your own kingdom and is the epicenter that's surrounded by YouTube, SoundCloud, Spotify, Twitter and Facebook. Either drive your fans to your website or directly to an online store like your recording label, iTunes or Google Play. You can do this by putting your web site address at the end of each video or using annotations, which are embedded hot links in the video that users can click on to go where you send them.
Make sure the video and streams are embeddable for blogs, social media and other web sites
Use annotations to link to your website, online stores, or other YouTube videos
Create a variety of music, interview and behind the scenes footage
Allow your YouTube followers to get an early discount on your album - this can drive up your YouTube subscriber count
Change the look and feel of your YouTube channel to include the album art and vibe of the new release
Tell the world: lots of people go to YouTube, but you also have to let people know its out there via social media, email and word of mouth