6 Ways to Build Your Music Career with YouTube

We spoke to YouTube stars Maddie Wilson, Noah Guthrie, and Ali Brustofski about how they used YouTube to build their career. For this post, we've compiled their 6 most essential tips on how to build a devoted fanbase using one of the world's most popular websites.

Quality and consistency are the two most important factors

This was far and away the most popular piece of advice we heard. You have to establish a consistent schedule when posting content for your fans — the more they can come to expect a new video at a certain time each day or week, the more likely you are the draw them back in. And always keep upping the quality of your videos, whether through better equipment or higher production value.

If you’re posting covers, make sure they’re songs people want to hear

When choosing your next cover, make sure that you’re not spending time on something out-of-date or just flat-out wrong for your audience. And if the song doesn’t move you, don’t expect your performance of it to move your audience!

Build a buzz before posting any new material

Before you release a new video, make sure your fans know that it’s coming! Tease out short clips or drop hints for your fans in the days leading up to your release, and don’t forget to post about the video again after your first release it. You need to keep that song in your fans’ newsfeeds (and in their heads) for days.

Collaborate with artists similar to your size

Collaboration is one of the best ways we saw these artists growing their fanbase. By working on a song with another YouTuber, those artists were able to effectively double their fanbase and cross-promote each other. But don’t expect to be able to work with the highest-viewed artist when you’re first starting off. Try and find someone with a similar sized audience as you, and work up from there.

Find out what your audience wants to hear from time to time

While it’s important to select covers and perform originals that are true to your voice as an artist, it’s never a bad idea to get ideas from your fans. Ask them what their favorite song is, or what song they’d like to hear you cover next.

Make each song your own

Whether you’re restyling an entire song or just changing the tempo, make sure that any cover you perform is a version that represents you as an artist. And when you’re working on new original music, be true to your voice. Don’t push yourself into musical territories if they don’t feel natural for you.


Want to learn more about how Noah Guthrie, Maddie Wilson, and Ali Brustofksi got to where they are today? Check out our in-depth interviews with each of them below:

5 YouTube Tips For Musicians from GLEE’s Noah Guthrie
How Maddie Wilson Used YouTube To Build a Career in Music
6 YouTube Tips For Emerging Musicians from Ali Brustofski

 

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5 Tips for Grabbing the Attention of Hip-Hop Bloggers

This post from hip-hop blogger and publicist Kayla Calloway will outline 5 simple and proven tips for getting the attention of hip-hop bloggers. These strategies are excerpted from the 2nd edition of Kayla's “The Essential Guide to Hip-Hop Publicity.”

When hip-hop artists reach out to media outlets, it’s pretty common for them to overthink things. And while a creative approach can make a lasting impression, you’re better off focusing on a professional and straightforward approach. In fact, former XXL Music Editor and hip-hop journalist Eric Diep says, “As far as hip-hop artists go, I’m old school. Just introduce yourself, hand me your tape, and keep it moving.” Taking a professional, persistent, and simple approach—letting your music speak for itself—is always the best practice, whether you’re online or in the real world.

So take note of these five tips — they are a great way to improve your response from bloggers and publicists in the hip-hop community.

1. Make It Easy On the Eyes

When sending emails to bloggers, skip the fancy fonts and different font sizes and avoid attachments of any sort. “Reading countless emails is hard enough on the eyes; nobody needs wacky fonts, different size text and several colors.  Set the size to the standard 12, the color to black, and the font to default (do not overthink things to try and get someone’s attention),” says Dj Z of DJBooth.net

2. Use the Subject Line to Get Creative

The email subject line is an opportunity to get creative and descriptive. Keep it short, simple, and to the point. Create a call-to-action by letting the blogger or writer know exactly what you’re sending in the subject line, whether it’s new music or a video. Here are a few examples:

YGTUT releases unique visual for new anthem “Preacher’s Son”
Wordsmith drops new mixtape exclusively on ReverbNation

3. Get to Know the Blogger

LinkedIn is a great way to learn a little more about the writer you’re reaching out to. For example, former XXL Online Editor and freelance writer Jaeki Cho’s LinkedIn profile states that his interests are Urban Music, Advertising, Marketing, Philanthropy, Buddhism, Asian Culture, and Literature. These type of details help you develop and cultivate relationships with bloggers, editors, and writers and get to know their work and learn about their interests.

4. Reciprocate

Engage with bloggers by actual following their work because you want them to follow yours. Follow their social media accounts and check out their posts. Sharing, liking, and commenting are great ways to begin building a professional relationship with the writer online.

5. Keep Your Eyes Open

Everyone vies to get featured on the same hip-hop blogs, but there are so many hip-hop blogs out there! Do some research and you’ll see that there are tons of opportunities for getting your music and videos featured, including submitting your music videos to YouTube channels that focus on new and indie hip-hop music. Here are a few hip-hop blogs to check out and get you started:

The Daily Dose
AllWeGotIsUs
Definition of Fresh
DeadEndHipHop
Earmilk.com
YetAnotherHipHopBlog
EveryoneLovesHipHop

Here are a few YouTube channels to check out that review indie hip-hop:

DeadEndHiphop
Luke James
Diyhiphopmarketing (an archive of my tips for marketing & PR)

I hope you have found these tips helpful, and remember — gaining the attention of hip-hop bloggers requires planning. Stay the course and hope to read about you soon!

Kayla Calloway is the author of the “Essential Guide to Hip-Hop Publicity”,2.3.16 Kayla Calloway a hip-hop expert, and a former hip-hop publicist and blogger who has worked with hip-hop artists including Chinx, Warren G, Chrisette Michele, and countless indie and upcoming hip-hop artists. She has secured media placements in XXL, Hiphopdx, Allhiphop, Hiphop Weekly, SLAM and many more. Additionally, Kayla previously ran a successful hip-hop marketing and PR advice blog. Reach her on Twitter @kvcalloway

 

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6 YouTube Tips For Emerging Musicians from Ali Brustofski

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.”

So when people like Justin Bieber and Esmee Denters began to break out on YouTube, she thought she’d try her hand at uploading a few cover songs of her own. Ali said she didn’t have a clear idea of how a successful YouTube channel was run at first, uploading “random choir videos and songs people weren’t searching for.”

She soon began fine-tuning her approach, realizing that using current hit songs that people were searching for was a great way to start getting her name out. She began pouring over iTunes, Billboard, and radio charts to find her next cover and plan her next post. Pretty soon, she had amassed a sizeable fanbase on YouTube, with more than 500,000 subscribers and 100 million total views to date.

Ali says that a successful YouTube presence is all about two things: quality and consistency. You should post as often as you can, but making sure to keep your videos high quality. It’s also helpful if you are posting covers of songs that you really love to sing: “People can totally see through it if you’re not into what you’re singing,” she says. 

But don’t neglect to promote and share your original work, either. For example, with Ali’s latest single (“When I Fall”), she gave her fans (affectionately dubbed Alinators) plenty of advance warning that a new song was coming. She builds a buzz before the song is released so that people are waiting for it to drop, rather than posting unannounced.

Like most successful YouTubers, Ali has also collaborated with several different artists through the site. “It’s a small community, so pretty much everyone knows each other at this point,” making it easier to find people to work with. If you’re looking to build your channel, find channels that are around the same size as yours, so that the collaboration will be mutually beneficial for both artists.

 

Above all, Ali knows that she has to stay connected with the Alinators who have helped her get where she is today. Without their support, she says, nothing would be possible. Ali often takes to her channel to ask what her fans want to here, which is a great way to establish a one-on-one connection with her audience. “YouTube gives you an amazing opportunity that a lot of mainstream acts don’t necessarily have, and I’m forever grateful for that.”

Key Takeaways

  • If you’re posting covers, make sure they’re songs people want to hear
  • Quality and consistency are the two most important factors when posting
  • Only post songs that you love singing
  • Build a buzz before posting any new original material
  • Collaborate with artists similar to your size
  • Find out what your audience wants to hear from time to time
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How Maddie Wilson Used YouTube To Build a Career in Music

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.

MWilsonBut 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.

 

If you look closely, you’ll see that my silver play button came! 100k subscribers y’all!! #thanksyoutube

A photo posted by Maddie Wilson (@maddiewilsonmusic) on

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.”

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5 YouTube Tips For Musicians from GLEE’s Noah Guthrie

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.”

About Noah Guthrie

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?’ 

Noah Guthrie_edited-7378So 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.

 

 

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How to Book a Successful Tour: Tips from Ground Control Touring’s Jim Romeo

Jim Romeo first began booking tours in 1990 as an assistant in an agency that booked some of the 90's biggest alternative acts like Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr , Liz Phair, and The Lemonheads. Jim later started his own agency — Ground Control Touring — and relocated to Carrboro, NC (just outside of Chapel Hill). Today, Ground Control represents some of the biggest names in indie rock and pop, including Belle & Sebastian, Grizzly Bear, Neutral Milk Hotel, Sleater-Kinney, Bright Eyes, Superchunk, She & Him, and Kurt Vile.

What is the best way to begin planning a tour? What elements does a band need to consider?

JimRomeo

Ground Control Touring’s Jim Romeo

A tour is generally planned around an album release, but not always. Typically a tour would start a little after the release date and initially start with larger cities first. Since this is usually the start of the band’s touring cycle, it is a good idea for the band to pace themselves a bit, as they will likely be looking to tour worldwide. In other words, if you’ve never toured before, or haven’t toured in awhile, you don’t want to get into touring with a month-long string of dates across the country. Start slow with a few out-of-town weekend runs and work your way up.

How does a band make money on tour? Should an artist be willing to lose money for the sake of touring?

When bands are first starting out it is hard to make money, there’s no way around that. So at the earlier stages, touring is more about promoting their music (and themselves) and trying not to lose too much. Keeping costs down is key. Staying at friends’ houses, touring with less gear to avoid renting a van, bringing merchandise to sell, doing a lot of free (or cheap) social media promotion for each show, etc.

SamHow to Book a Successful Tour: Tips from Ground Control Touring’s Jim Romeo
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5 Questions: Brian Ball of Ernie Ball & The Warped Tour

Since 1995, the Warped Tour has showcased not only some of the biggest names in punk and rock, but they’ve also created a platform for up-and-coming artists to get exposed to larger audiences. In fact, many consider The Warped Tour to be the first festival to bring artists like Blink-182, New Found Glory, and Katy Perry into the national spotlight.

In keeping with that tradition, The Warped Tour and Ernie Ball are working with ReverbNation for the fifth year to present a battle of the bands-style competition in which unsigned, independent artists compete for a two-week tour spot on this year’s Warped Tour.

Sam5 Questions: Brian Ball of Ernie Ball & The Warped Tour
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Musicians as Digital Storytellers: How To Seize the Power of Social Media

As an Artist, you’re probably relying on some form of social media to spread the word about your music. But today, it’s not enough to only update your fans with messages about your music.

We sat down with social media marketing expert Jim Tobin, President of Ignite Social Media, to find out where musicians often fall short in their social media strategy, and to learn how they can start making improvements today.

Watch the full interview above and read some of the highlights below:

SamMusicians as Digital Storytellers: How To Seize the Power of Social Media
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