Songwriters – Get Thee On YouTube!

Music on YouTubeMany of us attend workshops and conferences on a regular basis hoping to gain insight and information that will further our songwriting careers.  Often times the information we learn lies in notebooks rarely visited after the fact.  Jane Lewis, an S.A.C. member who is a singer/songwriter that is very active in the Guelph music community, recently attended Folk Alliance and put what she learned into action.  We’re grateful she took the time to share what she learned about putting your music on YouTube.  Hopefully it will put you into action too!

In Jane’s words…

At the recent Folk Alliance conference in Toronto, I learned that YouTube is now the #1 search engine for music. If people (the general public as well as music industry folks) want to find out who you are and what you sound like, they go to YouTube first.

A panel of industry expert
s strongly advised that musicians have all their music available on YouTube. They agreed that videos of live performances are great (bookers check those out to see how well you do in front of a crowd), but somebody like a manager or agent will also want to hear the recorded versions of your songs. “Even if it’s only a song with a static photo,” they suggested. “Just get your stuff up there.”

“Make YouTube videos” had previously been an item hovering near the bottom of my endless to-do list. After attending that panel, I bumped it up to the top. How hard could it be to make a simple video, as they suggested: just the song playing with a static photo behind it?

Well—obstacle #1 was my own personality. I’m incapable of leaving well enough alone; once the “simple” project was underway, I started to think about how it could be “just a little bit more interesting.” What was one step up from a static photo? As a songwriter, I figured: why not at least showcase the lyrics of my song?

This brought me to obstacle #2 (also my own personality): perfectionism. In iMovie, I couldn’t get the exact effect I wanted with the built-in “captions,” so I ended up creating all the lyrics as individual jpegs in Photoshop, and then importing them like a slideshow. And if you’ve ever used iMovie, you may already know that synching them up can be an exercise in frustration…I did have to let go of some of my perfectionist tendencies there!

In the end, the “simple” video project took me about three days. Perhaps it will go faster next time, now that I’ve learned how to deal with a few of iMovie’s quirks.

Is it worth spending that kind of time and energy? We’ll see. I’m not in it for the money—with 186 views to date, I think I’ve earned about 0.007 cents (and apparently you don’t get paid until you hit 200,000 views). But if I think of it as advertising, then it’s an investment. And I will try to get more videos posted, as time allows.

I certainly won’t be operating on the timetable that industry blogger Bob Lefsetz proposes. In a recent post titled “Using YouTube,” he opined: “You’ve got to create on a regular basis. Once a week at least, once a day is totally fine.”

Everyone’s priority list is different. Where does “make YouTube videos” fall on your list? If once a day or even once a week is your goal, I suggest you stick with the simple stuff—perhaps a recorded song with a static photo…


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