Learn how this YouTube star created a passionate audience using simple but effective techniques that any emerging artist can benefit from.
From a young age, Ali Brustofksi had a passion for music. She grew up watching her dad, a musical theater performer, and knew that she needed to be on a stage. After trying her hand at theater, she discovered that writing and sharing her own material was the path for her. She wanted to create her own voice, “instead of playing a character onstage.”
Learn how Maddie Wilson used YouTube to grow a loyal fanbase and check out some exclusive tips for getting the most out of YouTube.
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.
Looking to use YouTube as more than just a way to share your latest video? Here are some tips from GLEE star Noah Guthrie on how to advance your career using one of the world’s biggest music discovery sites.
1) Have a Continuous Stream of Content
“Have that set day where you want to post, every week or every other week. For whatever reason 1-4 or 2-5 PM seems to be the golden time to post videos on YouTube.”
2) Choose the Right Songs
“You want to choose something that’s super popular so you get views, but at the same time, if you do that all the time you get super bored and burnt out. There are only so many pop artists on the scene, so you get bored if you don’t do what you love. But you know, I think it’s more of the actual content — people don’t really care too much about the song. “
3) Have Good Content
“Honestly, it may sound silly, but just make sure you have good content. You know, if you’re doing a cover of a song don’t half-do the cover — do the best you can do and make it your own because no one wants to hear the same song over and over and over again. That’s not why they’re going to your YouTube page.”
4) Get Creative
“For me, when I have to translate something to just me and an acoustic, I might have to re-work the song’s bridge. Not because I think it was bad or anything like that, but just because it just won’t work for what I’m doing. I can’t just go to the bridge of the song and hit one note and do a bass drop with my mouth. I have to put new chords there…but that’s actually fun.”
5) Use It As a Tool
“I’ve met a lot people where that’s their job, YouTube. You can buy a house off of YouTube, or a car. But for me, it’s always been just another tool, just like GLEE was a tool. For me it’s always about the song and my original stuff, that’s my goal.”
Noah Guthrie first started using YouTube as a way to share his music with family and friends. But after his acoustic cover of U2’s “Where the Streets Have No Name” led to an endorsement from Ellen DeGeneres, Noah knew YouTube was a chance to create real success.
The [U2] video got me a ton of exposure, so we thought, ‘The video got seen by Ellen, who else can it get seen by?’
So Noah put together as much of his own original material as he could and hit the road, eventually getting spotted by Selena Gomez (who helped him land a manager). He began posting more and more videos, but his biggest break came from the unlikely pairing of his soulful voice with LMFAO’s hit single, “Sexy and I Know It.” The video received millions of views in just its first week, and it currently boasts more than 23 million views.
The video’s success, along with his avid touring, lead to him performing on shows like NBC’s The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and securing a role on the final season of GLEE.
Noah is currently hard at work on a new album, and he isn’t worried about navigating the crossover from YouTube star to bonafide musician:
I’ve been really lucky that people will come to my shows because of YouTube or Glee, but they always stay for my stuff and leave with an album…I’m just very lucky.
In addition to working at ReverbNation both as a Customer Support rep and a copywriter for the Marketing department, I have spent the last eight years playing music in the Triangle music scene (Raleigh, Durham, & Chapel Hill). My bands Lilac Shadows, T0W3RS, and Soft Company have toured the east coast and released several full-length albums, EPs, and splits with other area bands.
Everyone acknowledges that the Internet and social media changed the game for independent musicians, providing powerful tools to engage current fans and reach new ones. But while this hyper-connectivity and one-click sharing encourages us all to think on a global scale, I’d like emphasize the value of thinking small — specifically, how important your own local music scene remains.
This is a guest post from Shannon Curtis, an independent musician, recording artist, and author based in Los Angeles.
“If only …
… that one music supervisor could hear my new song, then …”
… that one label rep could catch one of my shows, then …”
… that one venue would return my email and give me a good time slot on a great bill, then …”
… then what?
Independent musicians, myself included, often think that there is one road to “success” when it comes to a career in music.
The reality is, being a career musician looks different for everyone…and the roads we each travel can be extremely varied. I believe I’ve discovered path to independent success for artists who want to build their fanbase, create a successful music career, and own 100% of the results. [Tweet This]
In March, twin sisters Brooke and Brit Graeff of Good Graeff took time out of their crazy touring schedule to stop by our office in Durham, NC to hang out and play a short set for our Passing Through series.
Good grief, they were entertaining! We talked about everything from recording a music video overseas to funding their tour through a Kickstarter campaign. Afterwards, they graced us with the sweet sounds of their lively, upbeat folk music, Brit’s cello and the playful, yet painfully honest lyrics sung by Brooke.
Crowdfunding is nothing new in the music world (check out our previous post on 5 tips for crowdfunding success). Yet recently Kickstarter has become a standout as a popular fundraising platform for independent musicians.
ReverbNation artists Graham Colton, Jonny Gray, Long Gone Day and Good Graeff used Kickstarter to fund their own independent work, from albums to tours to making it to festivals. Read more about their experiences and important takeaways you can learn from as you plan your own Kickstarter campaign.
Due to collapsing album sales, piracy, and less money generated from digital downloads, artists are now faced with the question, “How do I make money with my music?” Well, if the sales aren’t cutting it and the only people at your shows are your family and a few high-school classmates, how will you really make a living with your art?
Show me the money!! How can musicians make money nowadays?
I’m sure you know licensing and live shows are great money generators for musicians, but what are some less common ways that artists are making money in the music industry today? I’ve spoken to musicians on this topic recently and here are 10 ways that artists are making good money, maintaining their creative freedom all while paying the rent:
Hold live online shows
Create an online streaming concert and charge your fans and followers to watch your live performance from the comfort of their home. Great way to increase your fan base and take full advantage of technology. Try the site Stageit.com. They allow you to perform a live streaming concert for a portion of your ticket sales and they even allow fans to tip you while you’re performing!
The web-show movement is booming and many shows need songs for their introductions or throughout their episodes and they can’t pay the hefty licensing fees for mainstream music. This is also a way to expose your music to larger audience. Start by contacting some of your favorite web-shows via sites like YouTube and Vimeo. Ask them if they are looking for original music to add to upcoming episodes. Be sure to include web-links in your correspondence so they can easily access samples of your music.
Compose for Off-Broadway shows
Theatre productions need great composers for their music. This is an awesome revenue stream if you can snag a position on a new play — it’s less common but lucrative way to make money. These gigs are generally through the web of networking. I never recommend agents because they tend to only work with people that have BUZZ or through their own networks. But If you can connect with OTHER artists via networking…you’d be surprised how you can get a great gig. I know some musicians that have contacted theatre companies in their area to see what new projects they are developing and snagged jobs this way. If you don’t have a theatre in your area, tap into your web of artists. Sometimes musicians know other performing artists that need help with their plays and productions. Get creative!
Become an affiliate
Many companies that you love have affiliate programs. If you promote their products or services to your email lists and people purchase as a result, these companies will give a percentage of the proceeds to you. Don’t you love getting unexpected checks in the mail? An example of a great company with affiliate programs is Ariel Publicity. Visit the site for details on how to become an affiliate.
Start your own publishing company
Publishing your own music is great because if you enter into co-publishing agreements with larger companies not only will you get your writer’s share of royalties, you’ll also get ½ of publishing royalties. First step to starting your own company is to register the proper business entity within your state. For example, a Limited Liability Company or Corporation. Next, register your songs as a publisher with a performing rights society such as ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC. These steps will put you in the driver’s seat as your own publisher. Get those royalties!
Be a freelance sound engineer
As a musician you have a great ear for sound so put it to good use. Companies, events, and less-experienced performers need someone to oversee the sound in their productions.
Pre-sell your upcoming album
Pre-selling your album gives you the money to produce a higher-quality product. Not only is this a great way to get cash flowing to your new project, this is also a way to generate excitement for your upcoming album with your fans! Free marketing AND money, where do I sign up?
Rent your studio
If you have home studio where you’re producing your own music, share the wealth! Some artists need quality production of their music and they can’t afford the larger studios. This is a great way to help your fellow musicians and make money at the same time.
Build your email list
This is an age-old marketing tactic that you definitely want to incorporate into your life as an artist. You don’t want to have your fan base only connected to your social media. What if that method goes away? You’ve lost them and you have to start all over. Always have someone to market your next product or concert to by building your list. Add links to your music on iTunes or your new merch. Use ReverbNation’s mailing newsletters option to give you a professional and fun way to connect with your fans.
As an independent artist, I know that you would prefer to have all your money come from the screaming fans at your concerts or people clamoring to get your CD, but the reality is, you have to make ends meet until you finally reach your stride in your career. Take at least one of these ideas, apply it and then take that revenue and re-invest it into your career. Careful planning and monetizing every aspect of your art is the key to success in this industry. It’s time. Let’s do this!
Jo-Ná A. Williams, Esq. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter. For a FREE copy of her guide “Blueprint: The Insider’s Guide to Empowering Your Career as an Artist and Ditching your 9-5 for Good” Sign up here: http://eepurl.com/iOqe1.
(Legal stuff: this article is for information purposes only. It does NOT replace the advice administered by a licensed attorney in YOUR state based on your specific situation. I know you wouldn’t assume I was your lawyer cause your mama “didn’t raise no fool.” But mine didn’t either, hence the disclaimer!)