For all of YouTube’s success in the cat and hamster space, the video platform is by far the largest music streaming site on the Internet, drawing viewers in with official music videos that lead to a veritable rabbit hole of covers, fan uploads, and original material from every kind of artist imaginable. The site has its own home-grown superstars, and video plays are critical to artist discovery, promotion, chart performance, and, with monetized content, additional revenue streams.
Today at SXSW in Austin, YouTube announced that it is throwing more muscle behind its artist services, launching a YouTube For Artists initiative to centralize resources and analytics for musicians, labels, and other industry users.
“Artists do amazing things on YouTube, and we want to ensure that their success on YouTube leads to overall success,” Vivien Lewit, YouTube’s head of artist and label relations tells Fast Company. “We put a lot of resources behind creator support–music and non–including the YouTube Music Awards, YouTube production space locations in various cities around the world, partnerships with Billboard to count YouTube plays on the charts, and with SiriusXM to help surface musicians that are achieving certain growth on YouTube to generate radio play. Our algorithm itself is a powerful tool in discovery–it surfaces new talent and new projects of established talent. This seemed like a natural extension.”
The new site is an artist-focused version of the more generic YouTube creator hub that already exists to help users create content and build an audience. The music industry-dedicated destination “takes the wisdom of experts who’ve spent years learning about YouTube through analytics and how to gain exposure, and delivering it to a wider audience of artists,” says Lewit. “We’re taking all of that and aggregating it in one specific place in a digestible format. It will help people understand how to gain fans, how to monetize content, what does YouTube’s algorithm reward, and what do those rewards mean in terms of where your videos will be surfaced.”
YouTube for Artists will also include a new data tool, launching within a few weeks, that provides analytics in two new critical areas beyond YouTube’s existing analytics dashboard. The first is geographic data down to the city level to help artists locate fans, which can assist in targeting promotional and tour strategies. The second is a view of total plays for a song that includes both official music videos and fan-uploaded videos through Content ID. YouTube’s Content ID system identifies music uploaded by someone other than its creator and gives the creator the right to claim that content and mute, block, or monetize the video with ads. Combining these plays in the data tool will help artists, says Lewit, “tell the holistic story of the song.”
An important thing to note about YouTube For Artists and its data is that it is not a registration or login-based resource, but will be available globally. Therefore, the information displayed will be accessible “not just by artists but by radio programmers, branding execs,” says Lewit. “It opens up opportunities and lets everyone get a concise view of the impact of promotion.”