So you’ve made some great music on your sax. Now what? One of the greatest joys of playing an instrument is sharing your music with other people.
And these days it’s easier than ever to do that on a global scale.
YouTube has given all of us the power to reach a massive audience that was once only possible through record companies. In this article we’ll look at how to get started sharing your music on YouTube and what you need to know to grow your audience.
How I started on Youtube
I began using YouTube for fun about 4 years ago and started by posting some easy saxophone lessons that I literally just filmed in my practice room, with very little thought or planning. Today I have more than 250 videos on there that have been viewed nearly 4 million times! For me, YouTube was not only a way to connect with a whole new audience that I didn’t know about, but also the inspiration to build Sax School which has now helped thousands of players all over the world.
“My channel has now been viewed nearly 4 million times!”
Although it can seem daunting to start making videos, it’s easier than ever these days. And you just need to start with one video. I’ve learned a lot along the way, here are some tips to help you get started.
Capturing the moment on video
The first step in sharing your music is to get a great recording. Although you could just record audio, video is a much more powerful way to connect with people. Did you know that youTube is the second biggest search engine in the world these days (behind Google of course!) It just goes to show where everyone is looking for things, including music.
The good news is, these days just about all of us have a fantastic video recording device in our pocket. You can easily record a great quality video using your smartphone iPhones and leading Android phones both have excellent quality cameras.
If you have a laptop with a built in camera, you can also use this. Many laptops come bundled with a video capture application. Other great alternatives are standard video cameras or digital SLR cameras with a video function.
The GoPro cameras are also a fantastic option. They have amazing video quality, are really compact and simple to use, and on the latest models the audio quality is impressive too.
Remember to always use a tripod for your camera and think about how much light you have on you when filming. Recording yourself with the camera between you and a window works great, and let’s you take advantage of daylight. Alternatively, use a well lit room and avoid lots of shadows on your face.
Getting the sound right
Ideally it’s best to record your audio separately using either a standalone recording device or your computer. However newer smartphones, video cameras, and even the GoPro record great quality audio. It is important though to think about how the room sounds where you are filming. If you have a lot of background noise (traffic, TV or other people’s conversations) this can be really distracting in your video.
Find a quiet place to film and preferable one with some soft furnishings (curtains, carpet or sofas) to help make your sound less harsh. Avoid empty spaces, or rooms with lots of hard surfaces like big mirrors, hard floors or tiled walls. Playing here will create a lot of echo in your sound and make it very bright which doesn’t work very well on video.
Production values for great Youtube videos
Once you have a great recording, you might want to tidy up the video before releasing it to the world. You don’t want to include the part where you walk up to the camera and turn it off!
Although there are professional level video editing packages like Adobe Premier Pro or Apple’s Final Cut Pro, you can do a great job with free applications like Windows Movie Maker or Apple’s iMovie.
GoPro users can download the free GoPro Studio software that works great. And, if you’re a smartphone user, there are several free or low cost apps that let you edit your video directly in your smartphone.
Think about trimming the start and end of your recording to remove excess video. Your viewers want to see you in action so get to the good stuff straight away! If you have recorded your audio separately, most computer based editing programs will let you attach this to your video to replace the lower quality camera audio.
When you’re done editing, some programs will even let you upload directly to your YouTube channel. Otherwise, export or save your completed video and upload it to your YouTube account.
Don’t have a YouTube account yet?
Don’t worry, it’s easy, quick and free to get started with YouTube. You will need a gmail account first and you can use this to sign into YouTube. Once signed in you can watch videos and subscribe to other people’s channels.
When you try to “upload” your first video to YouTube though, you will be asked to create your own “Channel”. Your “Channel” is the place where all of your videos live. Once you have a few uploaded, you can organise your channel into categories and even choose which video new visitors see first.
Choosing a channel name
When adding a new video to your YouTube channel, don’t forget to make it easy for people to find your video by giving it a clear, sensible name. If you’re playing a well known song, make sure you include the name in the video title. Think about how people might be searching for your video and use those words in your title. For example, if you recorded the “Theme from Rocky” on your saxophone, why not call your video “Theme from Rocky played on saxophone” (and not something vague like “Bob’s practice 3rd Jan 2015”!).
The same principle applies to the name of your channel. Also, make sure to fill in your “About” information so people can find out more about you when they visit your channel.
Spread the word
Once you have your first video up on your YouTube channel, you need to let people know about it. Facebook is a brilliant tool for this and chances are you are already connected to a bunch of friends and family on there. Post a link to your video on your Facebook and ask people to go check it out and share it with their friends. You can grab a sharing link to your video by clicking on the “Share” button under every video on YouTube.
Want to reach even more people? Why not get involved with some Facebook groups and post a link to your video there. Groups on Facebook are a brilliant way to connect with people who share your interests. There are some huge saxophone groups to connect with.
Another way to get more people to view your video, is to connect with other YouTubers. Do you have other YouTube channels that you subscribe to? Why not connect with the creators of those channels by leaving comments on their videos. If you’re feeling cheeky, you could even ask for their feedback on your video.
To get the most from your YouTube channel it’s best to treat it as a long term project. Set yourself a challenge to post videos of your playing on there regularly. This will not only push you to produce more videos (which will help your playing), but it will also give your viewers a reason to come back again to your channel and hopefully subscribe.
I started my YouTube channel with a single video but now have over 250 uploaded. By being consistent I have collected nearly 4 million views and more than 28 thousand subscribers.
Create a movement online with your music
Get your viewers involved with your YouTube journey. Always ask for their comments during your video or in the video notes. It’s a great idea to ask them what else they would like to hear you play too. Asking for their feedback seems like an obvious thing to do but you will be surprised how few people actually do it. And, as a viewer, you are much more likely to do so if asked.
Connect with your fans
Keep an eye on your channel comments and always try to respond quickly. Remember that people who leave comments have taken time out of their day to watch your video, and leave some feedback. And, responding to their comments personally is a great way to connect with that viewer. You never know, they may be a future fan.
Ignore the haters
It’s an unfortunate side to the internet but there is a chance you may get some negative comments too. “Trolling” is a common thing these days and it’s important to realise that 99.9% of the time it’s not personal, but more like a sport for the “trollers”.
You can quickly and easily delete unsavoury comments by internet “trolls”. It’s best to not respond to them but instead focus on your positive supporters. After all, not everyone in the world will love what you do, it’s just important to connect to those that do get you!
From small beginnings, big things grow
You’ll be amazed at how your fan base can grow by being consistent with your output, and compassionate to your viewers. By connecting and nurturing your viewers, who are your fan base, you will quickly see what works, become a better player and build a following in the process.
Hopefully this quick overview is helpful to you. Why not set yourself the challenge to begin building your YouTube channel today. Even if it’s just for your own pleasure, it will help you develop as a player, and hopefully you will brighten some other people’s lives too!
Check out Nigel’s YouTube channel here: http://www.youtube.com/mcgillmusic