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Youtube for Artists is announced

Youtube for Artists

This week Youtube announced “Youtube for Artists”, which they describe as “insights and tools to help you share your music, engage your fans, and build a career”.

In reality, Youtube for Artists currently amounts to a small website containing

  • a suitably inspirational (if not madly informative) video about how every artist has the power to ‘make it’ thanks to the internet (if only it was quite that simple)
  • a brief overview of some Youtube features specifically for artists (some of which aren’t entirely ready yet)
  • some general tips on promoting your music videos.

The site feels a little half-baked right now BUT it is clear from it that there are definitely some potentially useful things on the way, chief amongst them a new ‘music insights’ tool which allows you to get an overview of where, geographically speaking, your videos are being watched – the idea being that you can take note of this big-brotheresque piece of information and plan tours accordingly.

Additionally you’ll find quite a lot of tips on Youtube for Artists about how to keep fans engaged with your videos, optimise them for Youtube’s search engine and access / make the most of statistics. When it comes to providing these tips, the Youtube for Artists site often points you in the direction of existing (and non-musician specific) help pages – this in particular helps give the whole enterprise its ‘half-finished’ feel, but these articles are useful nonetheless.

Finally, Youtube have also recently created a new feature called ‘Youtube Cards’ – these are not being introduced specifically for musicians but they are potentially very useful to them. These cards are essentially pop-up messages which you can use to add call-to-actions to your videos; Youtube somewhat hilariously describe said pop-ups as being ‘as beautiful as your videos’ (frankly, if your video is only as beautiful as a pop-up card, I would seriously worry about its quality). Despite this hyperbolic description, the cards do have the potential to be quite useful: you can use them, for example, to drive people who are watching your video back to your website, or encourage viewers to contribute to a crowdfunding campaign. If you are familiar with Youtube annotations, you can think of the cards as an evolution of those – they look better though, and are responsive (meaning they’ll display nicely across all devices).

Youtube for Artists currently feels as though it's in its infancy, and the Youtube Cards idea needs some development too - but it's good to see Youtube create resources specifically for musicians, and improvements are promised to both products. Any musicians keen on staying up to date with what remains the world's biggest music streaming site would be well advised to keep an eye on developments.

You can find out more about Youtube for Artists here, or click here for information about Youtube Cards.

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An important new Youtube feature for musicians

InVideo Programming

InVideo Programming

I just came across a bit of news on the interweb which I think is worthy of sharing with you, dear Prescription reader.

And it's this: Youtube have recently launched a new feature which could potentially come in very handy for musicians: 'InVideo Programming'. 

In a nutshell, it allows you to insert two clickable thumbnails in a video which point to 

  • your Youtube channel
  • one of your other videos

You can insert one or the other, or both.

It means that if somebody stumbles across one of your music videos, it's now much easier for them to click through to (and hopefully subscribe to) your Youtube channel, or watch a video that you particularly want them to see. It also allows you to add a degree of branding to each of your Youtube videos, as the thumbnail image used to point people back to your channel is your channel's profile pic (or you can add a JPG of your choice).

Personally I hope that Youtube improve the features a bit so that when a user hovers over either the channel or the featured video thumbnail, text is displayed which clearly identifies where they will go if they click on the link; right now users just see a not-very-informative Youtube URL, which isn't madly helpful. Additionally it would be nice to be able to promote different things within different videos - right now the thumbnails are applied across all your videos, and you can only promote one of your other videos.

I've had a play with the new functionality on one of my videos, so you can see InVideo in action here.

For more information about InVideo programming, you might want to read Youtube's own blog post on the topic here.

About The Prescription

'The Prescription' is written by independent musician and Head of Digital Communications and Irish PR at Prescription PR, Chris Singleton.  

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Why you NEED to be on Youtube - even if you don't have a video


Okay, so you lucked out and somehow managed to slip one past Geoff Smith and got a spot play on Radio 2. Millions of listeners all over the UK have just heard your 3 minutes of radio-friendly-two-tone-emo-shoe-gazing-nu-metal-folk-soul. Which means you’re now going to sell a load of singles, yeah?

As is ever the case with these articles, dear reader, the answer is no (and sorry about that). What will probably happen is this: around 0.01% of the people who heard Jeremy Vine interrupt calls from inane members of the public to play your song might be interested in hearing the tune again - but for free. And if they like it enough, then they might consider paying to download the track (or, since it’s Radio 2 listeners we’re talking about, see if they can find a 78 in an antiques shop in Rye). Either way, when they've got a little more acquainted with your music they may, heaven forbid, finally take the plunge and purchase your whole album. The main thing is: they've got to be able to hear that radio-friendly song again.

Now, they probably won’t hear it again on Radio 2, because there is an awful lot of James Blunt to play and you really used up all your luck by nicking that 3 minutes off him in the first place (heavens, his mummy will be ringing in to complain next). But, James Blunt aside, 0.01% of 8 million people is still quite a lot of listeners – 80,000 in fact – so you’ve got to make it as easy as possible for those half-interested people to find that catchy little ditty of yours.

Obviously some of them will go looking for the song on Spotify – a good reason to have singles up there, even if you’re reluctant to let people stream your whole album for free – but not everybody uses Spotify, and it's unavailable in a truckload of countries anyway. Put Spotify to one side, because there is an arguably far more important streaming site which bands often overlook: Youtube.

The reason Youtube is often ignored by bands is because they simply don’t have the budget, time or ability to make videos for their songs. Rather understandably, they therefore think Youtube, because it is a video hosting site, is irrelevant. Big, big mistake.

Here’s why: Youtube has, in internet terms, been around for ages and is so famous that even Radio 2 listeners have heard of it, and – gosh – use it extensively. They use it for two reasons: (a) to look at videos of cute cats and (b) to access the biggest repository of free pop music ever known to mankind. Let’s momentarily ignore the cats and ram point (b) home: Youtube is synonymous with pop music, and even in the Spotify era, people simply expect to find any song they have even half-heard of on Youtube. As such, your radio-friendly-two-tone-emo-shoe-gazing-nu-metal-folk-soul effort needs to be there.

BUT WE DON’T HAVE A VIDEO FOR IT, I hear you scream (in capitals, obviously). WE CAN’T AFFORD A VIDEO, you shout. WE READ YOUR LAST BLOG POST AND YOU TOLD US NOT TO MAKE A VIDEO IF WE WEREN’T MARTIN SCORSESE. Well, so what. Look up any Beatles song on Youtube. The biggest band in the history of rock didn’t really make videos – thank god, or the mullet would have arrived 15 to 20 years earlier – but nonetheless, you’ll find any Beatles track, no matter how obscure, on there. You'll no doubt encounter a video of Polythene Pam made by a mad bearded fan: the song will play to a home-made photo montage of images involving said mad fan sporting latex and covered in cream. All for the delight of you, dear reader. And yes, it will have been seen by 656,234 people.

Latex aside, if you don’t have a video, you can – and should - do something similar with that song of yours. Get some tasteful pictures of your act together, do a little montage using Windows Movie Maker or iMovie, and upload the opus to Youtube. If you’re too broke to have even done a photoshoot with the band, you could think about accompanying your song with some stock footage from iStock; using random-but-arty lo-fi video footage you shot on your phone; as a last resort, just whack something up containing some text against a black background (the song lyrics perhaps). Or a picture of Cliff Richard at Wimbledon.

The key thing is: get your music on Youtube in some shape or form. It’s still a major go-to point for potential fans, and at the end of the day, if you do get any airplay, there will be an expectation amongst the people who heard your music that you will be on there. And if you’re not, that 0.01% of Radio 2 listeners are going to just shrug their shoulders and go back to Blunty.

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Using Youtube cover versions to raise your band's profile

pexels-photo (3).jpg

Go to Youtube and search for your favourite song by your favourite band. Assuming the band is fairly well known, and you’re not searching for some obscure nu-metal-shoegazing-two-tone-grime artist from Skegness, you’ll probably find an official video by that band that has had thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of views.

What you’ll also find in the search results is a bunch of cover versions – by unknown artists – of that song. Or, alternatively, unofficial videos that fans have put together which combine the original band’s track and a bunch of random pictures of flowers that they scraped from Google Images.

What’s interesting about those ‘alternate’ versions is that however shoddy, they will have had a huge number of plays – certainly if the band being covered is extremely well known (think Beatles, Pink Floyd, Coldplay, U2 etc.).

This highlights the fact that that there is a clear demand for this kind of content. And it presents independent and lesser-known artists with a great opportunity to raise their profile; after all, people may not be searching for your groundbreaking but unheard of act on Youtube at all – but you can be sure that somebody’s looking for a Cheryl Cole song every 5 seconds. Youtube lets you piggyback on Cheryl. Or any other number of famous popstars for that matter.

So, what do you need to do to have the best chance of a Youtube hit? Here’s some quick tips on how to get attention with a cover on Youtube – and make the most of any attention you get.

Pick the song you’re going to cover wisely

Firstly, ensure the song you’re covering is by a band that have a decent following and that people will be searching for. However,  it may be worth picking a slightly less-well known track by that band – for example a B-side or an album track – as there are probably fewer covers of that song by other artists to compete with (but still a lot of demand for the track, particularly if no other cover version of the song exists on Youtube).

Record a decent version of the song

Don’t be tempted to just slap your cover down quickly on a dictaphone – record the track you’re covering in an interesting, meaningful way that will genuinely appeal to people. You may get a lot of plays on Youtube thanks to people stumbling across your cover, but if your version of the song is rubbish then there’s little point in it being there – you’re not going to make any new fans.

Make an interesting video

Again, don't just sit in a bedroom and play your song into a webcam. If you can make an interesting video to accompany the cover - something simple but with decent production values, and - the holy grail this - 'viral' potential, you're far more likely to increase the likelihood of people sharing it on social media.

‘Tag’ the track correctly

Ensure that you’ve got the right keywords in the song title. It’s really important to get the original’s band name and the song title in the title, or you haven’t got much hope of appearing in Youtube’s search results. If you just have the song title and your band's name, but not the original artist's, this whole covering lark is generally a pretty fruitless business.

Capture data

Accompany your cover version video with a prominent link to a data capture form where people watching your video can subscribe to find out more about you. This usually works best when it’s incentivised – offer a free download or other juicy content in exchange for the email address.

Get the track up on iTunes

With the web, you just never know when something’s going to take off. If you’ve recorded a great version of a track, and it’s getting a shedload of plays on Youtube, you might as well be making a few quid from it.

Legal stuff

As for whether or not it’s legal or not to put cover versions on Youtube, it seems like a bit of a grey area. We had a trawl of Youtube’s legal section and it was pretty vague regarding covers. However, we did find the following statement:

Recording a cover version of your favorite song does not necessarily give you the right to upload that recording without permission from the owner of the underlying music, e.g. the songwriter (this statement can be found on Youtube’s Copyright Education FAQs page).

So the impression we get is that the original songwriter of your cover has to object to it being up on Youtube before it will get removed. If he or she does that, you’ll probably get a ‘strike’ against your account. Multiple strikes may result in your account being deleted, so if you’re planning on uploading a truckload of covers by litigious songwriters to Youtube, you may wish to proceed with caution. The Youtube copyright information is available at for those of you who want to peruse.

Now, off you go to create your own very special Justin Bieber-style Ne-yo monstrosity.

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