It seems as though everyone has a YouTube channel these days, from makeup brands hoping to find an audience to celebrities to stay-at-home parents eager to show off the ins and outs of their daily life. While YouTube has long provided a creative outlet to these passionate individuals, that’s hardly the platform’s only draw; for many, the bigger lure is the potential fortune that can be earned right from the privacy of your own home. For musicians, in particular, YouTube provides a captive audience who can help you get noticed, and, even better, help you pay your bills before the first big check from your record deal comes in. So, how do those tastemakers on YouTube actually bring home the big bucks?
Enabling ads: The most lucrative way to monetize your YouTube account is to enable ads. Start by creating an account through YouTube’s Creator backend and enable ads, which will play before or during your video. While the amount of money you make off these ads is shared with YouTube — you’ll only be making 55 percent of the revenue from each ad, while YouTube takes the additional 45 percent — you can still earn a pretty hefty sum if you can get enough people watching your videos.
Use SEO: There’s a reason some of your favourite YouTubers make videos with such strange titles: they’re using SEO to drive traffic to their videos. Using SEO buzzwords in your video, like the names of popular celebrities, shows, or current events, can help boost your traffic exponentially. For example, a video titled “Ed Sheeran Castle on the Hill Cover” will likely perform significantly better than one called “My Version of C.O.T.H. Song,” the former having terms that will be highly searched for.
Working with partners: While YouTube can feel like an every-man-for-himself kind of business model, finding the right partner can help significantly increase your views and earnings. Joining a pre-existing network on YouTube (preferably one with a large subscriber count) can help get your music in front of the right people, earning you extra ad revenue along the way. While joining a well-trafficked the network may cost you as much as 15 percent of your earnings, it can be well worth it for green musicians.
Selling merchandise: YouTube isn’t just about selling your music, it can also be a great platform for selling other products, too. If you gain sufficient influence on YouTube, you can make money by hosting sponsored content, whether that means hawking a new kind of guitar pick or testing out a new set of strings on camera.
Connecting on social media: The odds that you’re going to gain a huge audience through YouTube alone are slim, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get followers from other places. Creating dedicated social media accounts for your music and tapping into communities that might be interested in hearing it, whether through local music appreciation groups or by connecting with other bands, can help you increase your views and keep that wallet fat.
Even if you don’t have the time or incentive to make your YouTube channel a full-time career, you can still get your music noticed and earn some money in the process. Who knows? You might just have what it takes to turn that hobby into a cash cow in no time.