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10 things the music industry can learn from YouTubers

Here's what we learned from the latest Music 4.5 seminar, which gathered digital experts to decipher what the music industry can glean from YouTubers' success.

Anita Awbi
  • By Anita Awbi
  • 1 Feb 2016
  • min read
Over the last five years YouTubers have staked their claim on the digital media economy.

Through astute entrepreneurship, lo-fi production values and a DIY work ethic, they’ve created a new digital culture that’s changing the connection between creators and their fans - and altered the rules of artist engagement.

From fashionista Zoella to singer Alex Day and vlogger Alfie Deyes, these YouTubers have amassed millions of followers and billions of hits between them to migrate off the screen and into the music charts, cosmetics industry or publishing business.

Last week’s Music 4.5 music seminar, The YouTube Paradox, gathered some of Britain’s leading digital experts to decipher what the music industry can learn from their success.

We went along to cherry pick their top tips for mastering the art of online content creation…

Get to know the anatomy of native Youtuber content.
It’s always incredibly topical and production timelines are very short. The usual timescales and budgets that apply to people who create more traditional video content and music just don’t apply here.
(Dominic Smales, Gleam Futures)

YouTube is the DIY movement of today.
If you’re a music artist, you put out a video once every three or four months. A YouTuber is there every couple of days, talking down the camera, unafraid of low production values, in a really candid way.
Mark Mulligan (Midia Research)

Break down the wall between artist and fan.
YouTubers don’t have a boss, an editor or a commissioner – there’s no gatekeeper between them and who they can connect with. That very much affects the way they make content. The audience is the editor and the commissioner; they’re in charge.
(Dominic Smales, Gleam Futures)

Dare to show your real side.
The music industry is very good at creating incredibly polished, aspirational celebrities that we look up to and put on a pedestal. But you don’t want to get close to them – and that’s where YouTubers come in. Their fans truly see themselves as friends. It’s crucial for the music industry to understand this: sure, carry on doing that polished celebrity thing but dare to show your real side and your true personality, because that is what people want.
(Nic Yeeles, Peg)

Speak in an authentic voice.
To make an impact on YouTube you’ve got to speak with an authentic voice. At the moment, record labels predominantly use the platform as a place to shout, ‘Come and buy our stuff.’ Actually, a conversational voice and authentic communication is much more effective.
Mark Mulligan (Midia Research)

Embrace the new world pecking order.
The new world pecking order isn’t driven by fame, or magazines, TV and traditional media. It’s about proper engagement, which is driven by how you interact with people, how quickly your videos garner views and how fast you can migrate people across your different platforms.
(Dominic Smales, Gleam Futures)

Collaboration is central to success.
Within the YouTuber community, collaboration is the number one accepted form of growing your channel and reaching new audiences. Find other people to work with and share your audiences. If ever you need to see influence, put a YouTuber on your channel and look at the comments below. It completely transforms the way people perceive you.
(Nic Yeeles, Peg)

YouTuber talent isn’t to be sniffed at.
It’s important that you don’t consider your artist to be in some way above YouTubers when collaborating. You have to understand they’re in the same playing field.
(Nic Yeeles, Peg)

It’s not just about YouTube.
Without Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, successful YouTubers wouldn’t be able to keep the audience that they have such an intimate connection with amused and engaged. Yes, YouTube is very important, but this isn’t about just one platform.
(Dominic Smales, Gleam Futures)

Why does all this matter?
Because video is eating the world. We had trillions of views of short-form video last year. YouTube is one part of it – video is following us everywhere we go. This isn’t a case of ostrich sticking its head in the sand – this isn’t going away.
Mark Mulligan (Midia Research)

Read more on Mulligan’s comments at The YouTube Paradox in our coverage from the event:

Music 4.5’s The YouTube Paradox was organised in response new video consumption patterns and the new YouTube culture.