Cory Wolff

PUTTING IN WORK: Is YouTube really helping musicians, or is it the other way around?

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How has YouTube helped you lately?

I have this theory.

What is YouTube really? At its core, it just a video hosting website. It has the benefit of over one billion users, ease of use with their mobile apps and other functions, and people already go there when they want to hear a certain song.

But as a musician, how has YouTube really helped you lately? Over the past few years of marketing and promoting in music, I’ve noticed a trend when it comes to video views.

Here’s some stats from a video that premiered in December of 2014. Check out the breakdown of where the traffic came from.

  • 74 percent came from the embedded player. These views were from our PR efforts where we placed the video on a few blogs.
  • 8.7 percent from the app. Again, from our marketing efforts.
  • 5.9 percent direct. Yep, us again.
  • 3.5 percent YouTube search. Well, people wouldn’t be searching for the artist if we didn’t market him. Chalk this one up to our efforts.
  • 3.5 percent YouTube referrals.

As you can see, YouTube itself doesn’t really help us when it comes to views or traffic. It’s usually the other way around; we send our visitors and fans to them.

So, my point is that from a marketing perspective, YouTube doesn’t really help. Unless you’re pouring your hard-earned cash into advertising, the site provides a limited – 3.5 percent in this case – amount of referral views.

I think this is an opportunity for someone with the right amount of money, and passion, to take over in the video space. Take the recent windowing of music videos by Universal. They now have a deal with video hosting site Vessel to premier new music videos. This means that new videos will be posted on Vessel at least three days before it hits YouTube. Maybe this is the start of things to change.

Find a way to provide some value to artists, have a solid platform, and I bet the majors would join in. I think that, somewhere, someone is already thinking this. As I’ve said before, the music industry is in a weird place. Maybe something like this could help us move forward.

On a side note, you should check out the memo from Universal CEO Lucien Grainge, the man behind the Vessel deal. He promises some big things for the music industry.

Written while listening to “Sunday Gentlemen” by Spit Syndicate.

Putting in Work: The Beauty of Music & Business is a bi-weekly column filled with thoughts, inspirations, and experiences from a music marketer born and raised in Scranton. Let’s step our game up together.