How music works on YouTube

YouTube is part of our daily lives. So much so that the video platform par excellence currently plays a fundamental role in the music industry. Perhaps that is why it is particularly striking that there is still a great lack of knowledge or myth regarding its articulation. A situation that we want to remedy with this new blog post, which is dedicated to explaining how music works on YouTube

In fact, a few months ago YouTube launched a resource aimed precisely at this. A document entitled “How music works on YouTube” that goes into depth and explains all the ins and outs involved in its recommendation system. From what makes a video appear among the recommendations to how to get there.  

The first thing to consider is how YouTube categorises music. When we talk about music videos, there are two types: official and unofficial. The latter are divided into two categories: those that only share music and those that go a step further with their own creations: dances, covers, etc. And to all of them we must add the videos related to music but which are not necessarily musical. And once again we find official and unofficial videos. The first include, for example, making of videos and the second include reactions or compilations. 

So, how does YouTube increase your audience and get you new fans? By using its recommendation system

How does YouTube recommend music?

There are three forms of recommendations on YouTube: suggestions, combined playlists and the videos that appear on the Home page. To these we must add active user searches and external sources. If you have a YouTube channel, you can see all this data broken down by using the Analytics function. 

The most important thing to bear in mind is that YouTube always recommends based on the user and their viewing history. In addition to this user personalisation, there is also the performance of the video and the aforementioned various factors external to the platform

What do we mean by user personalisation?

The videos that the user has liked in the past; the videos that other users with similar interests have watched. And also the videos that are often watched after another one. 

What do we mean when we talk about video performance?

  1. Degree of engagement: Did the user choose to watch the video? Did they click on it?, did they ignore it and prefer to watch something else?, did they click on “not interested”?
  1. Level of engagement: How long did the user watch the video for? What percentage of the video did they watch? 
  1. Degree of satisfaction: What does the user think of the video? How many likes and dislikes does it have? What was the result of the survey? 

What do we mean when we talk about external factors?

Is it a topic of interest? Is it among the most searched terms? Is it among the most viewed trends? Is it linked to a seasonal trend? What kind of videos are being uploaded to the platform? And what are competitors doing, i.e. what other videos are your audience watching? 

How can you improve your music distribution on YouTube?

A. User personalisation: 

Get fans to interact with your videos. How? Promote your content, add trailers and teasers and engage in the comments section. 

Encourage co-viewing: How? Create multiple videos for the same song, create a series, use playlists…

B. Video performance:

Increase its attractiveness. Make the title, description and thumbnail catch the attention of both users and YouTube’s own recommendation system. 

C. External Factors: 

Adapt to the trends of the moment. Find out what other videos fans are watching, what kind of videos are featuring your song, what parts of your video are getting the most attention. Even what other videos are suggested with yours or what your most recommended playlists are. 

Annex: YouTube solves your questions

When it comes to YouTube recommendations, is it better to have official videos or UGC?

Recommendations prefer official videos, especially if both have the same viewing purpose.

*UGC: User Generated Content

Can an underperforming video damage a channel?

No. It is very unlikely to happen. What matters is how viewers react to each video when the recommendation is made to them. 

Does the date and time of day matter when uploading videos? 

Yes, you should use premieres to release your singles on the same day you release the audio of the track. However, there is no magic recipe. You follow your marketing plan and let YouTube take care of the distribution. 

Want to know when your audience is online?

Visit Analytics, Audience tab. 

Is hyping a channel up a good way to generate views? 

Yes. The key is to engage with your audience, create a playlist with new content before a launch. Uploading content just for the sake of uploading doesn’t guarantee engagement. 

Does changing the thumbnail affect a video?

Yes, changing the title and thumbnail can have a real impact on the click-through rate, a key factor in video performance. 

YouTube’s recommendation systems react when viewers interact differently with your video. If more viewers are clicking and reacting to your video, more viewers will be reached. 

Are live and on-demand videos distributed differently?

Yes, live videos have no viewing history or performance data. They are therefore less likely to appear in playlists and video suggestions. 

To optimise these live videos make sure you promote them and do them when your audience is online. 

Does it matter if the video is uploaded to an official channel or a third party channel?

Yes, it is essential that the artist engages directly with fans through their own channel. However, smaller artists can benefit from appearing on a third party channel as it will bring new viewers. 

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