YouTube is your friend, not your enemy

“We are against YouTube. We don’t like it.”

Those words were uttered by a musician a while ago, and if there had been more time, I would have loved to discuss that further.

Every successful business spends a lot of time and money on understanding their customers. A band or an artist is most definitely a business – and a tough one to be in too. You need to understand the mentality of your customers, i.e the fans.

Unfortunately, many artists seem to be stuck in the 80’s and the 80’s way of thinking. It’s 2013 – the minute you choose to get your ass up on a stage, you will end up on YouTube – if you’re lucky. Even back in the hayday of the glorious movie stars in the 50’s and 60’s they knew that ALL publicity was GOOD publicity.  

You’ve got a crowd of a few hundred or a few thousand people with cellphones and built-in cams or little compact cameras with HD-video, in front of you. What’s the smartest thing to do? Thinking of it as a threat or using it to your own benefit? There is an old saying that goes – If you can’t beat them – Join them. 

Every smart artist nowadays will do the latter. Even those who were initially against YouTube have now realized that it’s a powerful marketing-tool. If you’re not on YouTube – you simply don’t exist.

The more videos a band has on that thing, the more popular they will seem, because nobody’s gonna waste time and effort filming and sharing a boring, uninteresting band. It’s a compliment that someone has taken time from their concert-experience, to share it with others.

Cause unlike records, a live-experience can’t be copied. You can’t distribute and share the feeling and the buzz of being in a crowd, that true live-experience that people pay tons of money for. The ONE thing that artists today actually CAN make money from, if they know how to do it properly.

So, a fan-filmed YouTube-video should be looked at as a PR-video for the NEXT show a band is gonna do. I’ve had people commenting or e-mailing on my videos, saying that the show I filmed looked so awesome that they’ve decided to go see the band when they’re playing in their town.

Being the one uploading live-vids, I’m not making ANY benefit from it whatsoever. I’ve not made as much as a penny doing that. But the bands – as much as they may be bitching about it (some of them) HAVE.

Most of them are probably even totally unaware of the two or three extra people that bought a ticket to their next show, based on a live clip they saw on YouTube. But those three people may be the ones telling THEIR friends about the kickass band they saw last night! That’s the way it works.

Blackie Lawless (W.A.S.P) has always been against cameras at his shows. But a few years ago, at a press-conference at Sweden Rock Festival, he had to admit that there’s no point trying to fight it. Instead, he had chosen to subscribe to the Grateful Dead-way of thinking.

Now THERE’s an interesting band to take a look at from a marketing point of view.

There is too much to say about how they’ve profited BIG TIME on allowing fans to participate in the live-experience of the band. I suggest you Google it, it’s pretty interesting actually.

Grateful Dead were early pioneers of “how to let fans have your music for free and still make a profit”. They even let fans plug right into their soundboards.

To learn more – go check this out: http://www.amazon.com/Marketing-Lessons-Grateful-Dead-Business/dp/0470900520

What are some of the marketing lessons that businesses can learn from The Grateful Dead?
Brian: The fundamental assumption in almost every band’s business model was that they were going to make their money on album sales. The Grateful Dead rejected that assumption. Their fundamental business model was based on making money from the concerts.

Because of that change, there was a cascade of decisions that fell from that. For instance, each concert was completely unique night-after-night, so there was a strong incentive to see them for several nights in a row – this ultimately led to fans following them around the country.

In addition, they allowed their fans to make tapes of the concerts and freely spread them to their fansthe more concerts they played, the more tapes there were, the more people were exposed to the music, the more people paid for concert tickets.

David: The Grateful Dead let their audience define the Grateful Dead experience. Concerts were a happening, a destination where all 20,000 or more audience members were actually part of the experience.

Making fans an equal partner in a mutual journey, the Grateful Dead teaches us that our community defines who we are. In an era of instant communications on Twitter, blogs and the like, we learn that companies cannot force a mindset on their customers.

Not that I’m a big fan of the Grateful Dead, but they definitely knew what they were doing.

Going back to the musician who was saying that he didn’t like YouTube because he had no control over what was being distributed and he couldn’t edit it and such… That’s all just an ego-thing. I understand it, I don’t like people taking pics of me where I look goddamn awful, uploading it to their Facebooks and Instagrams. I have no control over that either. It’s a pain in the ass. But I’m not an artist who has chosen to be looked at/listened to.

If the bands think of YouTube as a threat because they have no control, I don’t see why they don’t simply TAKE control?!

Unless they give people an ALTERNATIVE, people will go to the “unofficial” material, cause there’s nothing else to choose from.

Why not bring someone on tour who’s good at filming and editing – who they can “control” – open a YouTube-channel called XXX On Tour 2013 – watch it here! And put good quality videos up there regularly?

Maybe even take a small fee for letting people download these good quality clips each day? I for one would prefer that anytime, to the crappy iPhone-videos with horrible audio that people upload on YouTube.

I’m far from a pro, but I feel that the least I can do for a band and their fans, is to provide videos with decent audio. At least as decent as you can get with the size and type of cameras you’re allowed to use without getting into trouble with security.

GRASPOP festival did a great thing last year – filming every day, then uploading it within 24 hours – great quality, multi-cam footage! Who’s gonna want to watch something that’s not as good, when there’s the real deal?!

My point is – instead of being uncomfortable with the evolution in social media, USE it wisely and let it work for you. I don’t see the point bitching about something when you’re not providing an alternative.

Being in a band today means you’re up against tough competition. The more you’re seen and heard, the more likely that you’re going to survive – it’s ALL about keeping your name and reputation alive.

YouTube is a big part of that.

Message to bands: Be creative and proactive – YouTube is your friend, not your enemy! :)

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