For most of this week, I was in Cannes for the MIPTV conference, finding out how the television industry is responding to digital disruption.
The conference’s MIPCube strand included a session run by YouTube aimed at content creators. ‘Working with YouTube: A Creators Masterclass’ promises practical advice for anyone running their own channel, and while it was focused on TV-like video, there were some useful titbits for musicians too.
Cross-promotion works well. It’s something that a lot of YouTube stars (or ‘YouTubers’ as Google calls them) have learned to do, collaborating, making cameo appearances or simply promoting one another’s channels in call-outs at the end of their videos. “Try to collaborate with other YouTube creators and partners who create similar content, or even who do different content,” said David Ripert, head of YouTube Next Lab EMEA.
Subscriptions are important. “For us it’s very important to have people subscribed to these channels and coming back every day,” said Ripert. “YouTube is becoming a daily destination. Subscriptions generate a lot more views and a lot more watch time… People who subscribe to your channel watch twice as many videos as if they don’t subscribe.” He added that for many channels, more than 20% of their total views come from their subscribers.
Consistency of uploading can be useful. Do fans know when to expect your next video, or do you just put them up any time that suits you? There was talk of more traditional TV-style scheduling appearing on YouTube, with YouTubers setting and sticking to a schedule so their subscribers learn when to check back for their latest content. For more on this, see my separate interview with SB.TV boss Jamal Edwards, who’s doing exactly this with music.
Keep an eye on what’s trending. This may feel a little cynical at first, but Ripert advised creators to keep a keen eye on what’s in the news, and what’s trending on Google’s search engine (Google Trends is your friend in the latter case). The idea: a savvy YouTuber will often jump on something topical, give their opinion and (possibly) get themselves in front of lots of potential new subscribers.
Multiplying a video’s footprint. This was a specific phrase used by Ripert to describe chopping up longer videos into shorter chunks. He was referring to a documentary made by Vice, but it could as much apply to concert videos from musicians or other longform musical content. One reason to make a long video into several shorter ones: it creates a harder-to-miss “stack of content” in subscribers’ feeds on YouTube.
Include fans in the videos. There was a strong sense in the session that the most successful YouTubers are the ones who don’t just broadcast at their fans, but include them in more of a two-way conversation. Asking them questions (and answering them), responding to comments, quoting the views of fans in future videos, and even posting or linking to fans’ videos.
These are quite general tips, but they’re something to think about. And, unsurprisingly, Ripert also reminded attendees at MIPCube about YouTube’s new industry-specific PlayBook Guides, which provide deep-dives into tips that work for different kinds of YouTube creators. You can find the music one here as a PDF.