How To Use YouTube To Its Full Potential: A Musician’s Guide


If you’ve ever looked into how to promote your music on YouTube, chances are you’ve read how it’s an essential tool and one which all musicians should be using. I couldn’t agree more. Not only is it easy to use, but it’s compatible with most other marketing platforms, and it has a built in user-base which you can potentially tap into.

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That said, from looking at hundreds if not thousands of musician’s accounts, I see that many aren’t using YouTube to its full potential.

With that in mind, today I’m going to look at two things you can do to maximize the results you get from your video marketing. If you’re not doing either of these, I suggest you start implementing them asap.

Upload Your Videos To Established Platforms

The common logic when uploading videos to YouTube, is that you have to add everything to your own channels. While it’s true that you should have a channel and upload a good percentage of your videos to it, adding all your footage here is a mistake. I’ll tell you why.

Chances are, you’re not going to start out with a big subscriber count. Subscribers are valuable, because every time you upload a new video, YouTube informs your subscribers of this. It either appears on their homepage, or they may get an email about it alongside other new videos. This can mean instant views to your new release.

If you don’t have any subscribers yet however, you don’t get this instant head start.

Now while you can grind your way to new subscribers through ongoing marketing, there is another way. Instead of uploading all your new videos to your own channel, collaborate with established channels in your genre and get one of them to upload a video of yours instead! I’ll tell you why this works.

There are channels out there in all genres that have a huge subscriber base, yet will be willing to upload your video to their channel. If it’s good enough, of course. I’ve literally seen channels with hundreds of thousands of subscribers that only upload other people’s songs. They benefit as they’ll get good new and exclusive content for their subscriber base (as well as the money made from ads), and you’ll benefit as you’ll get in front of highly targeted music fans for very little effort. This is rare in the music industry, so take full advantage.

Not only will you get a lot more views and your name out there, but a percentage of the people will go on to check out your channel and subscribe to it.

I’d suggest that when starting out with YouTube, you upload at least a third of your videos to established channels, if not half of them. Keep something on your channel for people to see when they look for you, but other than that it’s all about getting exposure. So have a look at popular channels in your genre who showcase other people’s music and reach out to them.

Create Cover Songs Legally

Another thing I’ve noticed which is ignored by many YouTubers, is creating and uploading cover songs. This is where you look at what songs are already doing well (or if you’re a forward thinker, which songs will probably do well in the next few weeks) and do your own version of it.

The reason this works is simple; people will be searching for this song via the YouTube search engine. When they do, if you’ve a similar title, similar tags and you get a few early good ratings, there’s a chance you’ll appear alongside this video in search results. And as a related video.

There are many music fans who will go around listening to remixes of songs which they like. Furthermore, some will also subscribe to these new people they find, and become a fan of them in their own right.

While there are musicians who already do cover songs, many still don’t. So don’t be in that category of people not taking full advantage of this strategy.

Now as you may have noticed, I mentioned you should add these cover songs ‘legally.’You’re technically not allowed to use someone else’s backing track without permission, both from a legal stand point, as well as in terms of YouTube’s rules. While many people still do this and ‘get away’ with it, it’s best to treat your music career as a business and do things the right way.

In order to comply with the rules, you’ll need to get a sync license from the song owner. You can get this by going to them direct, letting them know what you’re planning to do, and requesting permission to go ahead with your plan. Most record labels will allow you to do this for free, as long as you’re not making money directly from the song in question. Others will try and charge you for this, but this is getting more and more rare. If they do as it’s not a reasonable price, move on to the next cover song.


So those are two ways in which you can greatly step up your reach and exposure on YouTube. Both of these methods are much more effective than uploading original videos to your own account with no subscribers, so use them as a way to get more eyes on you but with a fraction of the effort.

If you want more powerful music marketing tips like this, you’ll probably want to download my new free ebook. In it I look at a number of strategies to give your music career the best start possible, so check it out.

So, do you have any other tips for getting greater exposure on YouTube? Let us know what has worked for you in the comments.

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Shaun Letang is a London-based music consultant. View his site here.


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