A few years ago, Maddie Wilson saw YouTube becoming a destination for music lovers, and she needed to get in on the action. Recording covers of her favorite songs songs seemed like an easy way to break into the scene, so she started posting when she was about 13.
But it wasn’t until two years later that she started seriously using YouTube to build a career in music. She began posting more regularly and creating higher quality videos, shaping her own style with ease. And though she had plenty of original music for her fans, it was her covers that were getting the most attention.
“I think what makes me different is that I take a lot of Pop songs and make them a little more Country, adding my own style,” she explains. “There are a lot more Pop YouTubers than Country, so I think that really helps me stand out.”
Unlike the traditionally more competitive aspects of the music industry, YouTube’s community has a much more collaborative dynamic. Maddie says most of the YouTube creators she’s met have been really supportive. It’s almost like a family, with everyone willing to work with each other.
Maddie has collaborated with a ton of other successful YouTubers, including Lindsay Stirling, Madilyn Page, Bored Shorts TV, KFace TV, and others. She’s even worked across genres and countries, including making a version of Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” with European rapper Black Prez.
I think that collaborations are a huge deal — they can make or break your YouTube career.
She also used this approach for the music video of her single, “Chelsey’s Boyfriend,” which features some of her closest YouTube friends.
Over time, Maddie’s videos became more and more polished. She has taken care to improve both the video and audio quality wherever she could, as she knew this would help attract a bigger audience and the attention of brands. She still makes plenty of at-home acoustic cover videos, but she knows she has to vary up her approach to keep her audience coming back.
Her strategy has definitely paid off. A little more than a year ago, Maddie had her first 1-million-view video: her cover of Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Getting Back Together.” Though it took almost a year to reach that point, the momentum the video created was powerful. Today, she’s reached the 100,000-subscriber mark and has seven videos with more than 500,000 views.
Here are 4 tips from Maddie as to how you can get the most out of YouTube, and please share any advice you might have in the comments!
1) Collaborate, Collaborate, Collaborate
Collaborating with other artists and YouTubers will expose you to a wider audience and can help grow your fan base. You can also learn a lot from other content creators and pick up some new ideas.
“YouTubers love doing collaborations because they help both artists. Artists have different fan bases, so its a great way to increase awareness and grow your fan base.”
2) Make the Song Your Own
Put your own spin on a popular song. Whether you’re restyling to fit a new genre, like Maddie, or you’re changing the tempo, create a version that represents you as an artist.
“I think what makes me different is that I take a lot of pop songs and make them a little more country, adding my own style.”
3) Have Well Made, Interesting Videos
After a couple years or posting YouTube covers, Maddie began posting more professional videos. Rather than just sitting in front of the camera, she began making actual music videos for her covers. Have fun and know what you’re audience wants to see.
“In ‘We Are Never Getting Back Together,’ I’m shoving ice-cream in my face. It was silly and fun and I think people liked that.”
4) Find a Unique Angle and Go With It
A lot of the most popular YouTubers live at the Pop end of the music spectrum. When Maddie first started out, she knew that adding her own Country spin on traditional Pop songs would grab the attention of fans, and she was right. So if you have something unique about your music — Do you play the ukelele? Are you doing Folk covers of Metal songs? — make sure you emphasize it! It’s important to have that initial niche that separates you from other artists. Use that to grab people’s attention and then you can start building an audience.
“I take a lot of Pop songs and make them a little more Country, adding my own style. There are a lot more Pop YouTubers than Country, so I think that really helps me stand out.”