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YouTube is capable of making people stars, and while that happens to exceptional content creators, most of them are not music artists. One of the reasons that artists don’t fall into the YouTube star category is that their general mindset is still set in the past. Here are the 4 places were artists go wrong on YouTube, which leads to far less success on the platform than they’re capable of.
Artists and bands have a love/hate relationship with YouTube but the fact of the matter is that it’s still one of the most effective ways of getting your music out to both fans and non-fans alike, and growing an audience. That said, the techniques that worked in the past are no longer valid. Luckily, there are some very good models to look at for guidance, but few of them are from the music business.
Many artists and bands have been switching their music videos from YouTube to Facebook lately because of the increase in viewership, but it turns out the viewership numbers might be a big mirage. Facebook videos are said to be getting close to 8 billion views per day on its platform, but that number is in dispute.
First of all, the way a view is measured is very different between both platforms. On YouTube, a viewer has to watch for 31 seconds to be registered as a view. Facebook is way different in that a view is calculated after 3 seconds, but an even bigger factor is that the audio may be muted during the view time and will still be counted as a view.
It turns out that 85% of Facebook video views happen with the sound off, according to multiple publishers. Of course, this a major problem for an artist that’s using a video as the means to get their music heard. Advertisers can easily adapt by making sure that there’s text that you can read, and that the point comes across visually. Obviously, that’s not possible when it comes to music.
And, of course, there’s the payment factor, or actually, the non-payment factor is a better way to put it. You may not like what you get paid from YouTube, but at least you have the possibility to get paid something. Facebook is still working video monetization out, although it looks like that’s coming soon.
With that in mind, most artists are probably thinking, “Are Facebook videos even worth the effort?” given that the chances of people listening to a song are pretty minimal. If you’re looking to expand your audience by promoting a video or hoping to go viral, Facebook might not be the best place, given the latest figures. If you have a hungry audience already on Facebook that you want to reach, of course there’s no substitute. That said, don’t give up on YouTube just yet. You may not be getting a fair shake on the platform, but it’s still worth being there if you want your music heard.
If you use Twitter for promotion you know that while the 140 character limit seems like plenty, it can decrease rapidly with the addition of a photo or link. Those days may soon be over as the company will soon stop counting photos and links as part of its 140 character limit.
Currently links take up 23 characters, even if Twitter automatically shortens them, which means that you only have a very short sentence available if you use a couple of links, or a link and photo, in a tweet.
Twitter had recently contemplated increasing the number of available characters to as high as 10,000, but a user backlash stopped the motion in its tracks. There’s been almost universal applause among users over the latest proposal however. Then there’s the fact that quick and concise messages are the primary way that the service distinguishes itself from other services.
Why 140 characters in the first place? Twitter started its life as an SMS texting app in the days before smartphones. There was a hard limit of 160 characters available for a mobile text message in those days, and the company chose 140 as a way to keep some characters in reserve for the user name to be attached.
Lately Twitter has been making video a priority as part of its push for live events, agreeing to pay $10 million to the National Football League for the rights to stream 10 Thursday night games during the 2016 season. Twitter is also said to be working on more content deals for streaming sports, political events and entertainment as a way to possibly expand its stagnant user base.
Expanding the messages is also something that Twitter can use to help it sell more ads, as the same character limit applies to promoted tweets as well as normal tweets. Of course, keeping advertisers happy is a major concern (that includes artists and labels if they promote their tweets to their fan base) as many have recently taken their ad dollars to other social media platforms.
Many fingers are being pointed at YouTube for not contributing much to label and artist bank accounts despite the enormous number of streams it generates.
For instance, YouTube claims that it had 50% of the 317 billion streams last year, yet paid only a fraction of what the paid tier from Spotify paid.
How much? We don’t have the exact breakouts, but a combination of YouTube, Soundcloud, and all the ad-supported tiers from all streaming services accounted for $385 million in the U.S. in 2015.
Premium tiers of Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play and others amounted to $1.22 billion last year.
While everyone is disgruntled with YouTube for paying such low rates, its response as been that it’s paid out over $3 billion dollars to the music industry, which is deceiving in that it’s over the services lifetime, not last year.
The fact of the matter is that YouTube is still the go-to service by most people to listen to music, yet it pays the least to artists, songwriters, labels and publishers.
Yet the company has the music industry over a barrel as it holds all the leverage. Whether an artist wants their music there or not, chances are some fan is going to upload it, so it’s always going to be available, and the price is still right at free.
Unfortunately, don’t expect this dynamic to change soon.
If you’re an artist or in a band then you’re probably on social media to reach your existing fans and to expand your fanbase. There’s a problem though, in that it’s getting a lot harder to do that, especially with the biggest social platforms available.
This is especially evident with Twitter, which still has 320 million monthly users, but most of those seem to be business, sports and celebrity users or journalists. Gen Z and younger millennials are staying away like the plague.
It seems that, unlike Facebook (which they reluctantly use), younger users really don’t have a good reason to use Twitter when other alternatives like Snapchat, Instagram and Kik fulfill their needs in a better way.
Twitter is hard to define and even harder to describe why you need it, but any social network is in trouble if the user doesn’t have any friends on it, as is currently the case with Twitter and the Gen Z and millennial crowd.
Brands are beginning to recognize this as well and spending less on the platform, understanding that it probably won’t be growing much in the future, and that you’re buying current users, not future ones.
That’s why it’s important that you know exactly where your fans are before you invest your time in a social platform. You only have a limited amount of energy and as a result, can’t be everywhere, so go where you can get the most bang for your buck in terms of time invested. If you know that your fans are on Twitter, spend your social capital there, but if more are on Instagram (for instance), that’s where you have to be.