That’s a lot of search!
But what about second place?
Here’s a curveball; if you’re talking about actual searches conducted, second place is not a search engine, in the strict sense.
It is…[drum roll please]….YouTube.
With over 3 billion searches per month (in 2013; apparently it’s grown quite a lot since then…happy to update this, if someone has a newer stat?) the video platform is, apparently, bigger for search than Bing, Yahoo!, Ask and AOL combined.
I know what you’re thinking, “Great, but, er, what’s that got to do with me?”
Well, if you’re serious about a long-term, sustainable career in music, you probably want to be making good use of it.
Here’s one tactic:
You’ve probably seen at least one simple video on YouTube of someone doing a cover of some new chart release.
Why bother doing a cover? Is it to show how good they are? Often not. Often their version is just a straightforward copy, and with very limited production values to boot.
Then why do it?
In a nutshell; YouTube search.
A big chunk of YouTube searches are for music. If someone searches for a specific song, YouTube will likely surface many versions of it in the search results (and in the “related” section of their video player).
By “piggy backing” search traffic an artist can get their cover version seen by people, sometimes a lot of people. Let me give you a quick example.
I just did a random search (on YouTube 😉 ) for “cover song“. Third on the list of results was Sofia Karlberg. Her cover is of Sam Smith’s “Writing on the Wall”.
The entire video is a black-and-white, fixed camera upper-body shot of Sofia singing into a microphone in front of plain wall. In other words, about as visually boring as it’s possible to be. Moreover, the song sounds exactly like the original; the same backing track, no re-imagining, no different style, just Sofia singing instead of Sam.
I picked this because:
- it was one of the first in the results, so nice and easy to find
- there is nothing technically special or clever about the video at all; i.e. anyone could have done it (obviously they need to be an ok singer!).
Now the golden question; how many views does it have?
Five and a half MILLION views! That’s more than the entire population of Ireland (4.8 million)! But it gets better:
According the the free Chrome extension TubeBuddy (you should definitely install it) that video has generated $8k of revenue for the owner.
Now, as we know, it’s a cover song, Sofia doesn’t own the rights to it and so, strictly speaking, that revenue should be going to the legal rights holder. But only IF that rights holder contests it.
Which in Sofia’s case…apparently they haven’t (according to both TubeBuddy and another similar service VidIQ, it’s owned by “this channel”).
So the legal rights holders have literally left money on the table. And guess who gets it? Sofia.
So, to recap, Sofia did the most simple possible cover of a song and got paid $8 for it (and rising).
Moreover, she got 5.5 million people to hear her sing, and potentially check out her other songs; she’s got 1.3 million subscribers to her channel.
Most importantly – and here’s the real icing on the cake – YouTube allows you to put links in the description of your video. Sofia has one to her Spotify (758k monthly listeners), her iTunes (that’s right, you can buy her version of the song) and to her Instagram (98k followers).
As a side note: I think she’s massively missed THE trick by not driving people to sign up to her mailing list instead – think of how many email addresses she might have captured from those 5.5 million that she could sell her future music to over and over and over again…
Now I picked Sofia randomly to prove a point – you don’t need a big fancy video production, or crazy re-imagined audio version to benefit from the sheer power of free YouTube search.
Of course, you do want to pick songs that people might be searching for, but even the most obscure songs still get search traffic.
There’s a lot more to optimising your YouTube channel and strategy – this is just a touch on the surface – but I hope it might expand your thinking on an exceptional resource that is open to everyone, for free.
It probably makes sense to use it 🙂
- Sofia published her version on YouTube on 28th September 2015.
- The official Sam Smith version was published on 4th October 2015.
- Sofia was a week earlier than the original!
Because she knew that would be the period of maximum search traffic.
With the Bond film “Spectre” – for which the song was written – being released on October 26th (UK), the month leading up to it was the biggest period in terms of promotion and marketing spend (behind both the film and the song).
The result would be the biggest amount of (YouTube) search traffic.
By being early to the game, Sofia was able to capitalise on it to great effect – which is probably why the audio and video production of her version was so low-key; for her, speed and timing were essential to reap maximum benefit. Crafty!
P.S. AC/DC is one of my favourite bands. Search YouTube for arguably their most famous song, Highway to Hell, and 9th down the results is the well-known YouTube cover artist, Jess Greenberg. Her video seems to be shot on a laptop in her bedroom.
Now, yes, she has a certain visual…style, but look past that (if you can..) and check the figures
- 24 million views
- $36k in revenue
- no copyright claim
All that money goes to her for just a few minutes playing a cover of a rock classic…in her bedroom!