The Beginners Guide to Promoting an Album - Part Four: Video
In last week's Beginners Guide to Promoting an Album we showed you a couple web tools to help you share your music online to help you grow your fan base. In our fourth installment we'll cover another critical medium: video.
There's no denying that video on your website and social media feeds are much more compelling than text and even still images. And it's not as difficult to do as you might think.
Step one is obviously creating video content. This can range from a candid acoustic performance in your living room using your smartphone, to concert footage. The important think to maintain is making sure you're capturing quality performance. To me this does not have anything to do with "production value" or picture and sound quality. It definitely can help to have those things, but when it comes to music a quality video gives the viewer a deeper glimpse into what your music is about by adding the visual sense. It's about conveying the message and emotion of your music though performance and/or images.
In fact, nowadays many people use online video services to discover new music. Bands are now posting some of their songs on YouTube and Vimeo accompanied by cool graphics with lyrics or a slideshow of stills. There are plenty of creative and innovative ways to enhance one's music using video. So get those creative juices flowing beyond the auditory and verbal part of your brain in order to connect with your audience on a deeper level.
In this age of information overload, it's important to try and keep your posts short, sweet, and to the point while engaging your viewers. Edit out any footage that cause viewers to lose interest and try not to ramble on. It's almost always better to break up longer video clips into shorter topics.
Once your video is done, it's time to post it online. We recommend using either YouTube or Vimeo - or both. All modern smartphones and computer systems have lots of great tools to make this task easy. But that's for another post…
Whether you use YouTube or Vimeo, it's important to take time and fill out all accompanying text information such as the description and tags, as well as choosing a telling and enticing title which will all help ensure your video shows up in search results. But don't overdo it on tags! Try to choose about five that best describe your video that users may type as keywords for their search query. Within the description, make sure to include a link to your website or other important web pages related to your post. If you include "http://" at the beginning of the URL, it should make it a link that users can click on.
Another important bit of data that is worth putting a little extra effort into is the thumbnail image used to represent the video. Last year I was able to moderate a Skype session between a group of college students and Jack Conte of Pomplamoose, and one big takeaway from our conversation was the importance of that placeholder image. He said it needs to entice users to click on it when seen in a list of other videos, which is why almost all Pomplamoose videos have the lovely Natalie Dawn's face as that image. YouTube and Vimeo have differing setups for this. So lets take a look at the differences between the two services.
As part of the Google corporation, YouTube's primary advantage is exposure. It's directly tied into the world's most popular search engine, Google, so it's the number one place for your videos to be discovered via search. It's also set up to easily tie into social media services like Facebook, Twitter and Google+, as well as grab code to embed a video directly on your website or blog via the Share button. If you're a big Google product user, then using YouTube should be easy as it ties in nicely with all of Google's services.
Keep in mind that they limit you to 15 minutes per video, but since we recommend shorter videos anyway, it usually isn't a problem. YouTube does offer to accounts in good standing the option to increase the time limit, but just because you CAN doesn't mean you SHOULD.
Besides using YouTube as a promotional tool, you could also gain some cash by allowing ads during your videos and in the sidebar. Just be careful not to abuse your audience's trust. Ads can be a huge negative for the user experience, so make sure you know your priorities (promotion vs. making money), and that you have a good idea of what your audience expects.
While not as widely used as YouTube (but steadily growing in user base), Vimeo is known for the quality of its video playback and its paid options which allow a lot more tools for professionals compared to their free setup. I also personally like how their videos embed in that the playback controls disappear once the video starts, and all branding can be removed if you have a plus or pro account. Plus, I just like the aesthetic of their simple and clean control interface compared to YouTube's. To me Vimeo is definitely geared more toward the content creator rather than the consumer like YouTube is. And neither is a bad thing.
Like YouTube, Vimeo does make it easy for users to share a video via social media links and embed code. They also include an Apps tab in your account settings which offers integration with various social media sites and other services like Dropbox.
Vimeo doesn't offer ads as an option to make some extra dough, but they have recently begun offer a virtual tip jar allowing Plus and Pro members to receive tips from users using PayPal. Of course they do take 15% besides the standard PayPal fees. Hey, it beats standing on a street corner with an open guitar case, right?
Just like with your digital music distribution, it never hurts to have a presence in multiple places. So if you are willing and able, we recommend using both YouTube and Vimeo to spread your brand online and reach more fans. If you have to choose one service, go with YouTube to increase the likelihood of new fans discovering you while searching and browsing online, or go with Vimeo if you need primarily a tool to manage and embed video on your website and integrate with other social media services.
Once your video is posted to your outlet(s) of choice, don't forget to share the link to it or embed it on all of your social media accounts. Spread the word and make it easy for your fans to share the video with their friends. Both YouTube and Vimeo offer ways to have them automatically post to Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ when a new video is uploaded. It it takes little effort to manually write a post that links to your video that is more compelling that just the title of the video. After all, you actually want people to see your videos, right? Just posting your content with the expectation of people finding it is never enough. Just like having a recorded project on iTunes, Amazon and even on store shelves is never going to do much to broaden your fan base.
Video is the number one way to engage and the number one shared media type online. It does take a little effort to create and post. But the payoff can be well worth the effort IF you play your cards right.
How does your favorite commercially successful artist or band make use of web video? What type of content do you see going "viral" and does it give you any ideas on your own original content to create, post and share?
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