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“Attention is the new money”: why artists needs to look beyond YouTube

Mike Johns, CEO of Digital Mind State

Mike Johns, CEO of Digital Mind State

For THE best way to find new music (be it Hip Hop, rock, house or reggae) without paying a dime, look no further than YouTube. Yet while it is undoubtedly good for music lovers, for artists maybe not so much. According to Nielsen’s “music 360” survey, nearly two-thirds of US teenagers under the age of 18 use Google’s YouTube to listen to music more than any other medium.

Nine of the top ten most viewed YouTube videos are music videos. In so many ways, YouTube has quickly transformed into Generation Y’s MTV. The site has maintained its lead in the US as the most popular music video destination site over rivals Vimeo and Vevo.

YouTube boasts the most unique monthly viewers as well as the most engaged viewers, according to data released by comScore. Google has been aggressive in music licensing: you can find just about any song on YouTube within seconds. The site is perfect for allowing users to create and share playlist.

That said, how are Hip Hop artist leveraging online video platforms – or are they?

Hip Hop is one of the most creative forms of music, and early adaptors to technology now need to understand the power of online video platforms. Hip Hop artists from the US to the UK have all turned to YouTube as the premier destination to upload and share videos online.

YouTube has appeal for several key reasons among Hip Hop artists: it is a trusted name for video uploading covering multiple devices, it is easy to navigate through, and most of all its free.

Today the number one goal for a Hip Hop artist engaging in social media is branding and staying connecting with fans – YouTube provides a solid home for both. One example of how artists are utilising the power of YouTube can be found with West Coast legendary rapper Snoop Dogg. He’s doing all the right things possible with his Westfest TV YouTube channel.

His call to action is fully in place – fans can subscribe to his channel to receive the latest video, they can post comments and Snoop has the option to respond. As for monetization, once you watch the video you can purchase the song direct from iTunes. Snoop’s channel is also connected with the big name social media outlets including Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Tumblr, Soundcloud and even newcomer Viddy to engage with fans. With that said – is that it?

With Big Snoop having over 20,731,439 Facebook “Likes” and 10,083,054 followers on Twitter, is YouTube really the best online video platform option? Google’s YouTube continues to enjoy the benefits of having the most engaged online viewer experience as well as racking in big time advertising bucks with a solid formula in place that’s based on the number of impression generated.

Make no mistake, Google’s YouTube site is a media company that’s in the business of making money. Hip Hop artists and musicians alike must have a digital strategy similar to that of YouTube in order to maximise leverage.

In the movie Cadillac Records you can either be like Muddy Watters riding around in paid for Cadillacs deducted from pay, or be like Muddy’s rival character Howlin’ Wolf and have complete ownership!

Why buy the cow, when you can get the milk for free?

Hip Hop artist and musicians alike need to note – if viewers can get the benefits of viewing content for free, then why pay for it? The trick is to make your audience go through a different projector.

In essence you want to reposition the game where they can’t get the milk for free. Hip Hop artists, musicians and music entertainment websites need to have a strategy in place when dealing both with online video platforms and all aspects of digital.

It’s the age old clash between artistry and business. If your mission is to promote, brand and sell a few records then you’re missing out on the bigger picture. I will start with using Snoop Dogg, who last year launched a new weekly show, GGN (Double G News) Network on his YouTube channel. Snoop Dogg‘s GGN content can be found everywhere online, when it should be powered solely from his website.

YouTube should be used to promote clips from his show only while directing fans back to his website. Snoop’s team should invest in a customised video player where advertisers would easily pay for eyeballs. Fans would have the ability to embed the branded player into their respective website or blog. This will allow four things:

  • He can now control the experience and brand
  • Encourage integration with content
  • Create new behaviour
  • Monetize

If a portal was built and he received just 10% downloads from a mobile app that’s 2mn people. If delivers one video per week, that’s 60mn impressions. He now will have the ability to demand a higher CPM of say ~US$ 10 (much more than what Google typically offers) which represents US$ 600,000 per month in revenues.

Additional views can also be generated using the power of social media with sites like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, which raises the number of impressions to 120-180 million: this further increases revenue potential.

This is a solid more strategic approach which would allow Big Snoop to maximise and monetize his presence utilising the power of online video platforms.

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