Posted: Oct 21, 2019
Category: Online Presence
**Guest post by Randy Chertkow and Jason Feehan of MakingMoneyWithMusic.com. Reprinted with permission.
"YouTube is essential for getting your music discovered and heard. But to make money from your channel's advertising, you need 1000 subscribers and 4000 watch hours. In this three part series, we'll give you the techniques you can use to hit this threshold so YouTube starts sending you checks for the ads running on your channel and videos.
The #1 music search engine in the world is YouTube. This is why your music needs to be there. The good news is there are many ways to monetize video, although Google made it more difficult to tap one revenue stream: becoming a YouTube Partner. However, if you consider using a few of the five approaches we'll share below and in the next few articles of this series, you can still unlock this additional income and make more money with music.
In January 2018, Google changed the admission rules to the YouTube Partner Program. The new rules require 1000 subscribers and 4000 watch hours for a channel to be evaluated for admission. Why is this important? Because getting into the partnership program is the only way to monetize the ads on your channel. YouTube changed the rules under pressure from their advertisers who wanted their advertising to appear on more quality channels -- ones with more reach and sustained viewership.
This change to the rules creates a problem for most musicians who use YouTube -- especially ones who want to tap as many revenue streams as possible with the popular medium. Although music is the most searched term on YouTube, it's hard for a set of 3-4 minute music videos to rack up 4000 watch hours within 12 months the same way a set of 10-20 minute TED Talk or How-To videos can. You either need a lot of music videos (and a lot of replays) to hit that mark or a new strategy.
Because of this change, it's necessary to adapt your approach if you want to become a partner. While you'll already want to be using all the necessary techniques to build your audience and generate subscriptions as we discuss in our book, Making Money With Music, adding the approaches we discuss below to your toolbox can help you hit these higher goals.
One thing to keep in mind before we jump in is how YouTube is a private company. That means these rules, metrics, and the algorithms may change in the future whenever they want it to. Even if that happens, the techniques we'll share in this article series will beef up your views and audience engagement regardless of what the rules may be in the future.
In this article, we'll focus on just the first three approaches to explore -- creating more content and creating longer videos.
1. Create and post more videos to increase engagement and boost watch hours.
It's a numbers game: the more videos you post (and the more you can add to the playlists you create), the more likely you'll rack up views and watch hours. Most musicians focus on creating videos for just some of their songs. This is because video production for a music video can be time-consuming. However, with a little creativity and an understanding that you can make many different types of videos beyond the traditional MTV-type (such as animation, still photo videos, machinima, mashups, vlogs, behind-the-scenes, and more), you can create more videos for your fans to watch and enjoy. And, some of these don't require big budgets or a lot of time to create. But don't just focus on creating music videos. Combine this approach with the one below to produce a variety of video content.
2. Create and post longer videos to increase viewing hours.
Music videos are usually short, averaging about 3 minutes per view. To generate 240,000 watch minutes (4000 hours), you would need your video to be watched to completion 80,000 times. To help, beyond creating more music videos, consider creating and adding a mix of longer videos to help increase viewing time for your channel. By default, YouTube allows videos up to 15 minutes in length and if you need longer options, you can verify your Google Account by following these steps.
These videos could be vlogs, special behind-the-music interviews, or other long-form content. But if you don't want to spend all your time becoming a video producer and you play killer live shows, you can also post a few of your recorded live shows in their entirety. Depending on the length of your sets, this could result in videos 30, 45, 60, or more minutes in length. Keep in mind, your videos can also be audio-only, so if you only have the audio of shows from your past, you can upload the audio with a still or revolving set of images.
3. Live stream events and make the video publicly accessible after the event.
Similar to pre-recorded videos, every minute people watch your live stream on YouTube counts toward the 4000 watch hour threshold. Live streaming can be done on mobile or your desktop. Plus, YouTube allows long uploads for live streams by default. So, consider live streaming your next show or event.
And keep in mind, you can live stream backstage before a show, behind-the-scenes while recording your next song, or any other type of event you think your fans might want to see you do such as an acoustic live set in the bathroom or on the way to a gig, your next album release party, just you playing video games with fans, and more. One additional tip to drive engagement and length of time your audience stays tuned in is to include chat so you can take questions directly from the audience. Lastly, to maximize watch hours, don't leave your live stream archived and private. Once it's over, be sure to enable it on your channel so fans can tune in and watch it in the future.
These are just the first 3 approaches. Check in next week when we share the next two you should do and the one thing you should be doing regardless if you're a YouTube Partner or not.
For even more revenue-generating ideas, check out our book Making Money With Music and our free newsletter focused on how musicians can make money with music at makingmoneywithmusic.com."
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Authors of the critically-acclaimed modern classic, The Indie Band Survival Guide, Billboard Magazine call Randy Chertkow and Jason Feehan “the ideal mentors for aspiring indie musicians who want to navigate an ever-changing music industry.” Their latest book, Making Money With Music (Macmillan) and free Making Money With Music Newsletter, help all musicians from startups to pros build a sustainable music business and make money in today's tech-driven music environment.