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Full albums on YouTube

Sometimes when I search for artist background information, I stumble upon things that I can’t believe seeing … things that have to do with the music itself  – for instance how easy it is to get a copy or to download entire albums for free!

Dear artist, the following thoughts are not ‘the law’. It’s not strictly the way you should organise your stuff. However, it’s my thoughts and my concerns that I’d like to share here with you. Be aware of the fact that in the end – your music is your life. It’s what keeps you going. So be wise and decide yourself. How you protect your way of life, that’s all!

( unless it’s pure hobby and you don’t want to make a penny… then skip this post)

The other day I was searching for a bit of background info about Kiphi – one of our favourite ambient artists. One site lead to another and within 2 or 3 clicks … I was on YouTube playing the entire album “External Molecule”  – the FULL album that is, all tracks back to back with pauses in between! All this is on a YouTube channel that claims to be :

” A beckoning odyssey of deep chillout music. Part of Chill Space Network “

Don’t get me wrong when I say that musicians should be more careful. Becoming part of such ‘networks’. Be careful with your music and with all of your content. After all it’s the content that pays the bills ; being able to live your life the way you want. Am I correct?..

Being a musician and producer myself (graduated from Sonology / electronic music school in 1995) it breaks my heart to see that a lot of artists these days are simply ‘overdoing’ the sharing principle. Really they should not. It’s a good thing to share some of your stuff – share promotional clips, let the music be heard on certain podcasts, radio shows etc. But when the audience really likes your music and wants to own it , you should build a secure plan for it. There should be a basic two-way direction to follow ;

1. Stream your music from a platform like Spotify, Apple Music, Google Music etc. The royalty percentages are crazy sometimes but at least it’s a platform where one can shine and earn streams. Look at it as a venue where your music can be played. The more streams the higher the revenue  … it’s a challenge!

2. Purchase your original music from an online store/shop/page. So in the end, it’s the MUSICIAN that receives money for what he/she has created, under a record label contract or simply on your own (Bandcamp).

Now, in order to protect your copyrighted material I don’t think there should be much more than these two basics . Really I don’t. Many variables here but better stick to ‘streaming’ and ‘purchasing’ and go from there.

Maybe it’s because of the year I was born (1970) and it makes me dizzy to see so many platforms these days. Possible! But I also happen to know how difficult it is to make money from music. How to pay your rent, bills and what not. And what about the musical gear in your studio / buying new instruments? Ouch! Not cheap. So as a musician you should keep lines short, you should know where your music is available and you should have organised protection for your work and  the ‘insurance’ that every time your music is played somewhere it brings you the well deserved coins! As it is your work!

Releasing your music on YouTube for free, is the beginning of the end. Really. You should not. And you should not get tempted by ‘big YouTube channels’ to include your music. Don’t fall for 10K, 150K or even 1Million subscribers and that all the subscribers are gonna hear your wonderful album. Because they won’t! No way! In fact these numbers do not say anything about how many people will actually listen to your music. And it will certainly not tell you if you’ll ever make some money from it. High view rates are not equal to high dollar amounts.

So what’s the plan?

There’s nothing wrong with a bit of promotion on YouTube. I admit. Go for it! But do this in a responsible manner ; make sure there’s a track or two or fragments from it available. Link to your Bandcamp page or to your record label / site. If people love your music, they will follow the links and purchase. They absolutely will ! But as soon as your music is available on YouTube for free  – even in FULL ALBUM format – you can forget about sales 95% of the time.

What you do need is a good YouTube channel that promotes your music, instead of a channel that ‘dumps’ your music on it. Big difference there!


Hope this helps.

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// Ambient Zone //

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