The following article is an excerpt from “Your Band Is A Virus – Expanded Edition”, and it covers 17 ways to self-promote and distribute your music video…if you must. I add in the “if you must” because if you’ve put in the time, energy, and funds usually required to create a professional music video, you should put the same care into promoting it, and that means outsourcing, unless you plan to do all the work yourself. Of course, if you work hard, anything is possible (or is it ‘everything’?…).
For more information on music video promotion and distribution, check out my exclusive interview with HIP Video Promo CEO Andy Gesner.
Music video promotion is a topic that mystifies most independent artists, and it’s for this reason that I decided to intensify my focus on this subject for this edition of “Your Band Is a Virus”. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of making a music video, which is something akin to an experience of show business for first-timers. Making a music video is something you should be excited about, but don’t let it detract from the work that’s ahead. Simply posting your video and hoping for support from your friends and fans is inexcusable, unless you just did it for fun.
There are professional music video distribution and promotion companies such as Hip Video Promo (www.hipvideopromo.com), Rive Video (www.rivevideo.com), and Trendsetter (www.trendsettermarketing.net). All of these companies have major artists as well as indies on their rosters. They basically prepare and format your video for television’s sometimes stringent requirements, promote the final product to the MTV network, Fuse, BET, MuchMusic, Pitchfork TV, California Music Channel and a host of others, not to mention retail pools, clubs, video-on-demand and popular music video websites that tend to be somewhat inaccessible from the outside. Each company has different capabilities and it’s important to do your own investigation. Pricing is typically similar to what you’d pay for a music promotion company to promote your album; often not as high as artists imagine.
I highly recommend that you put aside $3000 or more to promote your music video in various ways if possible. Don’t solely rely on a music promotion company. However, for those who cannot afford to invest much money into their video, there are manual things you can do to maximize your exposure.
1) Get on YouTube
This should always be in the form of a professional video (It’s not as difficult as you think. Hire a film student to shoot your video for you. It will cost a fraction of the price of a professional director and should produce some good results) or simply well-done footage of one of your live performances. Make sure it’s of a high enough quality or it can actually work against you. Content is key, but good content is everything. These days there is no excuse for poor quality. Even iPhones have amazing video features that should allow you to put together an impressive HD live video.
You can show a slideshow of your band photos and post a song from your latest CD. It can be invaluable to become familiar with YouTube as an independent artist. Use stock footage, footage of political figures or current events, something artistic or eye-catching – anything that represents the mood of your music or will potentially get people talking, and more importantly, spreading your virus. You can use relevant keywords to attract people to your video. Many bands have gained thousands of new fans by simply posting a slideshow or video on YouTube. Is there a new movie coming out that has gained a lot of buzz? Post clips of the movie set to one of your best songs. As the recent Alice in Wonderland movie approached, many bands took this opportunity and set their own music to clips of the upcoming film. This resulted in thousands upon thousands of listens, and many new fans. Make sure to build those relationships as well. Comment other similar sounding bands and music outlets. Sign up for their channels and favorite their videos. Build your network.
2) Get Creative
If it’s controversial or current in some way, that is even better. For example, there is a live video on YouTube of a performance by the Dillinger Escape Plan where the singer runs into the crowd frantically, stepping on their shoulders, screaming his head off, the whole bit. People started spreading this video virally and it helped spread the word about the band.
The point is, if people like your video and your music they will tell their friends about it. In lieu of having a professionally done music video, there are plenty of things you can do to gain thousands of new fans online.
To create your music videos from slideshows and video clips combined you can use free software programs like Windows Movie Maker, for example. If you want something more professional and you are ok with spending some money you can always try:
Adobe Premiere Elements 4.0
Power Director 6
Vegas Movie Studio 8
3) Set Up Your Own Channel On Youtube
Having your own channel is a great way of attracting people to your music, and for creating a thriving community. Within your YouTube channel you can add your favorite videos by others. When those videos are viewed, your channel is visible which means that YouTube users are able to click through and find out what else your channel has to offer. This is a perfect reason to expand your content.
Think about the kinds of things your fans love to watch and save them to your YouTube channel. It’s a great way to bring people into contact with your music. In order to create more magnetism for your channel, try using a custom photo background. This emulates Youtube artist pages and gives you your own professional stamp.
4) Distribute Within YouTube
There are plenty of music curators who have YouTube channels, one of the most popular being www.Blanktv.com, a website that caters to rock, punk, alternative and metal music videos. They re-upload the artist’s music videos to their own YouTube account, resulting in many more views for the artist as a result. The amount of channels on YouTube is quite extensive, and it would take some digging to find them, but a good start is searching terms such as “independent music”, “Music videos”, “unsigned”, and also genre terms like “metal”, “alternative”, and “hip hop” while using the channel filter. The more you show up within YouTube, the more potential for your music to be bounced around and show up in search results.
5) Tag It Up And Optimize
Properly labeling and tagging your YouTube video is important. Since YouTube’s search function is impartial, accuracy is more important than hype. Ideally, the video title, description, and tags should contain repeat words, with the band name appearing in all 3. YouTube allows for quite a few comments, so be sure to include everything relevant to your video that people may search for, even similar bands that appear in your bio, for example. Also, make sure to include full website, sales page, and contact information in the info section, on top of including your full bio and band information.
Most bands skip this step, but a detailed description of your YouTube video is a big part of how people find you (not just on YouTube, but on Google as well), and how your video goes viral. Being thorough with your title, video information and tagging is called optimizing your meta-data.
One idea that bands often disregard on YouTube is advertising partnerships. You can allow YouTube to show advertising at the beginning of your music videos and make money in the process.
In fact, YouTube recently launched a partner program specifically for indie bands. Bands who are accepted will get to add tour dates and “buy” links for music and merchandise and exert further control over the design of their pages. On top of this, their music will be much easier for new fans to find thanks to their new partnership with the ones controlling the search. See how that works? Start thinking like a business and outsource! Advertise! You can apply for consideration at the following link: http://www.youtube.com/musicianswanted
Annotations are also a great way to further promote your band/brand, generate more emails for your mailing list, more merchandise sales and more downloads of your latest album. They are small sections of text layered over the vide itself that allow you to input additional information such as download links, other videos or your channel subscription box. Think of this as free advertising.
7) Start Strong No Matter What
It’s critical that you start strong when releasing a new music video on YouTube. Since it’s much trickier competing for valuable tags later in the game, it’s important that your video gets extensively viewed and rated. This is why many bands will use Fiverr gigs and other social media companies to boost their YouTube views. Be careful with these and do your research if you hire anyone. Make sure your promotions are always organic and not automated. This ensures that real people see your video, and also that you don’t get unnecessarily banned.
8) Share Your Album
YouTube seems like an unlikely place to share your album, but in fact it’s one of the best. It’s a great idea to upload each track on your album along with the album cover as the image to YouTube. Many people use YouTube as their sole music discovery platform, and won’t think you’re relevant if you don’t have much content available. This also gives you more chances to share your “Buy the album here” links.
Vimeo describes itself as “a respectful community of creative people who are passionate about sharing the videos they make. We provide the best tools and highest quality video in the universe.” It’s true – Vimeo has long been a hub for artists and video directors, and it’s generally free of much of the low quality distractions that pollute YouTube’s search results. Also, their moderators actively watch the comments for anything abusive or over-the-line, so the community remains generally free of excessive buffoonery.
Vimeo’s channels and groups are quite easy to search for, and communicating with the users in charge is easy too. On top of this, Vimeo has member forums where you can get involved and cross-promote with others. Basic accounts allow up to 500MB of storage.
Metacafe.com is a video sharing website that surpasses 40 million visitors a month. That’s some heavy traffic. This community is moderated, and all new videos are checked out by volunteers. They also have a focus on short videos clocking in at less than 10 minutes – perfect for the music video format.
Blip.tv focus on original content and their audience is well worth reaching out to. They also offer a distribution service which will promote your video to YouTube, Flickr, Myspace, and AOL Video among others. They offer both free and pro accounts, but you need a pro account to use their special features.
12) Daily Motion
Dailymotion.com is similar to YouTube in the sense that it’s not moderated and as such, allows just about everything.
Muzu.tv is an Irish website that features music videos from artists worldwide. This is a site where people actively seek out independent music videos. They have quite an active following and also pay artists 50% of ad revenue on their content. That’s a novel idea.
14) Other Online Video Distribution Options
Sound daunting? Don’t want to do all of that yourself? Luckily there are many options available for video distribution to online channels. Sites like www.videowildfire.com, www.tubemogul.com, www.veoh.com, and www.heyspread.com offer different options for distributing your music video to popular websites. Some have free options, but it’s best to go with some sort of paid option in order to take advantage of the extra features. Heyspread.com allows you to purchase credits specifically for the sites you wish to reach. For example, if you only wanted to distribute to Vimeo, Facebook, Google, Yahoo and Daily Motion, that’s all you would pay for.
15) Music Video Promotion Through Blogs
This is an obvious point, but…music blogs don’t just review albums. In fact, they rarely review albums in comparison with other things. Whenever you visit just about any music blog, chances are you see more music videos than anything else. In fact, it would be a challenge to find a blog that didn’t post music videos. For this reason, saying you don’t know where to promote your music video is kind of like saying you can’t find the internet.
People are more visually focused now than ever before. It’s for this reason that a music video is not only critical to have, but it should be the leading part of your promotional strategy. Posting your music video embed code is much easier for a blogger than spending 2 hours writing an in-depth review of your album. Give bloggers the option. Most video views happen from blog exposure, not on YouTube.
16) The Channel Search
It’s not as difficult as you might think to submit your own music video to popular online and television channels. Some require strange formats, and in those cases it’s best to enlist the help of the pros, but some accept a simple Quicktime file on DVD and a signed contract, or even better, a .mov file. One of these examples is the hugely popular California Music Channel, which is open to independent artists of all genres and can be found at http://www.cmc-tv.com/submissions.htm. Aux.tv also accepts Quicktime files on DVD. Be sure to check their website for specific instructions. IndiMusic TV also allows independent music video submissions at
Google search the proper terms and you’ll be surprised at the amount of channels you’ll find.
ABC’s RAGE accepts independent artists. Details are available here: http://www.abc.net.au/rage/submissions/
http://videos.antville.org/ and www.iheartmusicvideos.com allow you to post links to music videos after setting up an account, and its well worth it considering their built in audience. I’ve had great results using both websites. Baeblemusic.com and BlankTV.com both accept music video submissions online. They only accept high quality; Baeblemusic accepts all genres and BlankTV sticks to rock of all kinds.
Here are some more websites that accept music video submissions. There are literally thousands of others, but I hope this will get a positive, frenzied thought process started for you.
Want a bigger list? Check out:
http://www.ovguide.com/browse_sites?c=music&ci=407 for a listing of major and independent music video websites. You will need to do your own research to find more that suit your music, however.
If you have a stunning music video, why not enter it in some significant competitions such as the Independent Music Awards (www.independentmusicawards.com) or the International BBC Music Video Festival (http://bbcmusicvideofestival.tumblr.com/).
17) Go To Work
This seems to be not worth mentioning, but my friends….it is. In fact, most artists think their job is done once they go through the effort of making a music video and get it posted on YouTube. But that’s only where the work begins. Take Drunksouls, for example, who are currently sitting at over 1.3 million views for their viral music video ”Human Race”. They didn’t rest on their laurels. You can bet they were spending time EVERY DAY emailing any relevant individuals who may have been able to help their cause, or possibly just spread/enjoy the video. It’s all done in units of one, after all. Reach out to people. Be personal, and do it every day. Ask for advice and resources. You’ll get them, provided the product is good and you’re professional.