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Why YouTube Matters to Musicians

January 29, 2016 | Written by: Stem

We have all heard it before: video is integral to a good content strategy. But how many creators understand just how important video is? Our goal with this post is to make a case that proves the growth of video, and provide resources that can help you understand how to optimize your content.

EXHIBIT A: YouTube’s Billion View Club is growing.

Source: YouTube Trends (Blogspot)

An elite group consisting of artists whose videos have crossed over from millions of views, to billions, on YouTube, the Billion View Club includes superstars such as Katy Perry, Meghan Trainor, Taylor Swift, Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars.

As of June 2015, the Billion View Club consisted of only two videos: Psy’s “Gangnam Style” and Justin Bieber’s “Baby.” However, the second half of 2015 ushered over 10 new videos into the club, and as of last Monday, Adele’s “Hello” is the fastest video to ever reach one billion views on YouTube, hitting the milestone in just 87 days.

While it is still rare for a video to reach over one billion views on YouTube, it is happening more rapidly, and with each year it is taking videos less and less time to cross this milestone. This explosive growth speaks directly to the state of content consumption, and should inspire creators to examine their own strategies further.

EXHIBIT B: Video consumption is growing, fast, and it is not going to stop any time soon. Here is the data to prove it:

Cisco’s Visual Networking Index’s chart reflects projected Consumer Internet Video growth by 2019

In 2015, Cisco’s Visual Networking Index reported that video consumption will account for 80% of ALL consumer Internet traffic in 2019, up from 64% in 2014.

This accounts for short-form content (videos under seven minutes in length), video calling, long-form content (videos over seven minutes in length), peer-to-peer TV and live-streaming, Internet PVR, ambient video such as home security cameras, and mobile video (all video traveling over data networks).

Additionally, YouTube reported last year that the number of hours people spent watching videos on its platform per day had increased 60% year over year from March 2014. The number of actual users watching per day had increased 40% over that same time frame.

With over a billion users, which accounts for nearly one-third of all people on the Internet in general, YouTube reaches more 18–34 and 18–49 year olds than any cable network in the United States.

EXHIBIT C: A viral video can get your song on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart.

In 2009, a video of a fan dancing to Bon Jovi’s 1987 ballad “Livin’ on a Prayer” went viral with over 15MM views, causing the song to sneak its way onto the charts.

How did this happen? Since 2013, Billboard and Nielsen count YouTube streams toward their charts. Ownership of the sound recording of “Livin’ on a Prayer” on the viral video was claimed via YouTube’s Content ID using the song’s International Sound Recording Code (ISRC). Since streams against an ISRC are now counted toward charts, the 15MM streams on this video propelled “Livin’ on a Prayer” to No.25 on Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart 26 years after it was originally released.

EXHIBIT D: YouTube can get you on the radio.

In 2014, YouTube launched its first-ever radio show on Sirius XM Hits 1 called The YouTube 15. The goal of the weekly radio show was to help YouTube stars find success beyond the platform in the same way that they could by potentially charting on the Billboard Charts.

Hosted by Jenna Marbles, The YouTube 15 showcases artists and songs that are trending on YouTube, bringing the popularity of the platform to radio and expanding its potential for music discovery. Since songs on YouTube are linked to ISRCs, Content ID is able to track not only streams on the actual content itself, but on user-generated content (UGC) using the content as well.

For content creators, YouTube’s increasing presence not only poses the need for more focus on video as a way to expand audiences, but can also stand alone as a significant revenue stream thanks to YouTube Content ID. Launched in 2007, Content ID is YouTube’s automated system that enables copyright owners to identify YouTube videos that contain content they own, including when it shows up in UGC.

Here at Stem, we utilize Content ID to enable creators to claim their content in order to collect and split earnings among collaborators.

For example, let’s say you upload a music video to YouTube of a song you wrote and recorded. Your fans love this video, so they record and post it to their own channels. Content ID will recognize that their videos contain your intellectual property, and based on the match policy you have set, you will be able to monetize the streams on this video, as well as any UGC using the content from that video.

In the coming weeks, we will be releasing more information on how creators can most effectively use Stem and YouTube Content ID to monetize videos. This is an exciting time for creators to make a living off their content, and the Stem team is working to make monetization and splitting earnings as seamless as possible.

Now that we’ve convinced you that YouTube is important for musicians, become an expert and check out YouTube’s Creator Playbook Guide for Musicians.

For tips on optimizing your YouTube videos to grow your audience, check out our piece with StyleHaul’s Vice President of Audience Development, Steve Moskovitz here.

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