You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

A Handy User’s Guide to Career-Building on YouTube

Forget the old rules, just get your content out there early and often


You cannot win if you do not play. (Did you catch the Steve Forbert reference?) Don’t be afraid. Dip not only your toe in the water, but your whole body. Reluctance is so last century. You’ve got to create on a regular basis. Once a week at least, once a day is totally fine. Don’t think of it as reaching people, but working out your kinks. It’s the beginning of your 10,000 hours. The cycle is so fast these days, and everybody’s so overwhelmed with input and time-limited, that your lame work will go unnoticed, the way the “Harlem Shake” is already history. As for people discovering your lame-o’s down the line, you should only be so lucky!

(From the pages of the April 9 issue of Variety.)


Everything. Originals, cover tunes. Acoustic versions of electric tunes. Electric versions of acoustic tunes. With unlimited bandwidth, you are not restricted. Studio time used to be expensive, you demoed and oftentimes got it wrong in the recording, whether because you were uptight or unduly influenced by a producer. Your goal is to get comfortable in front of the camera. And to keep experimenting until you find something that works. The record industry has got it totally wrong, it thinks it’s about perfection when truly it’s all about warts. You want to first and foremost be relatable, embrace your imperfections and mistakes.


You think you want overnight success, but you really don’t. You want the gradual build, you want fans to embrace you, to become invested in you. If you have overnight success, once it’s done, you’re toast. Can you say “Rebecca Black?” That does not mean you shouldn’t follow what works. If a certain style of video gains viewers, repeat the formula. Marketing is not about being on every platform, screaming your way into people’s hearts, or not. Rather marketing is about research, taking chances and seeing what works and refining it and following it up.


You can’t get on it. Not unless you’re signed to a major label and make Top Forty music. So forget the radio, YouTube is your radio. As it is for the younger generation. Did you see the NPD report? I don’t trust research, it’s inherently flawed, but if you’re the kind of person who needs numbers to confirm what’s right in front of your face, I hope you saw the NPD report that said Internet radio accounted for 23% of 13- to 35-year-olds’ listening time, up from 17% last year, and AM/FM dropped two points to 24%. The Internet already won, the only people who don’t know it are the old farts, who listen to the Internet 13% of the time and AM/FM 41%. It couldn’t be written any clearer. Until record labels are run by 20-year-olds, they will continue to tumble into darkness; they’ll get the message last.


You’ve got a smartphone, right? That’s all you need. Some of the best records of all time were cut live to tape with mistakes in place. Capture lightning in a bottle. Ever see two identical lightning bolts? Hell, you can’t even remember how every one looked! You just remember the emotional experience, how you felt when you saw them and heard the resultant thunder. That’s the business you’re in, connecting with people emotionally. And that’s all about letting loose and taking chances.


Forget everything you once knew. Albums, cycles, they’re totally toast. An artist today is constantly creating and constantly in the public eye. He doesn’t bitch that he can’t sell records, that the old model is broken, rather he explores the new avenues where money is available to be made. Piracy? Rip-offs? Imitation? That’s your greatest desire! Content ID will make it so you profit off all the imitators who cover your music! You don’t want to hold it close to the vest, you want to open it up to everybody. Which reminds me, ALWAYS SAY YES! You’re gonna get ripped-off anyway. If there are no barriers to piracy, let people do what they want. Your efforts are just fodder, starter material for others to bake their own bread. They’ll give you credit if you don’t antagonize them. And they’ll give you their money too. People like to pay those they believe in. Foster belief and you’ll get paid. Phony is history, like the deejays on terrestrial radio, if you’re playing to everybody, afraid to offend anyone, you’re playing to nobody. You want viewers, you want fans, make it easy, don’t put up barriers.

More Biz

  • Sean "Diddy" Combs Revolt TV

    Sean Combs Slams 'Illusion of Economic Inclusion' at Comcast Amid Byron Allen Fight

    Sean Combs has come out swinging against Comcast in a lengthy statement prompted by the cable giant’s legal battle with Entertainment Studios chief Byron Allen. Combs accused Comcast of maintaining “the illusion of economic inclusion” in its handling of a carriage agreement with Combs’ Revolt TV channel. Combs was critical of Comcast for failing to [...]

  • Bon Iver Justin Vernon Grammys

    Bon Iver, Tanya Tucker, Thom Yorke Lead Indie Labels to 44% of Grammy Nominations

    Ever since Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs” won Album of the Year at the 2011 Grammy Awards, independent labels have seen their star rise on “Music’s Biggest Night,” and that looks set to continue at the 2020 ceremony, where Bon Iver, Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, Yola, Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard, Elvis Costello and others have gotten big [...]

  • US Capitol

    Congress Introduces AM-FM Act to Revise Copyright Law for Terrestrial Radio

    Senator Marsha Blackburn and Rep. Jerrold Nadler today introduced the Ask Musicians for Music Act (AM-FM), which aims to revise existing copyright law for radio stations and musicians. Under the current copyright system, radio stations can use sound recordings over their airwaves without paying royalties to creators who own a stake in the sound recordings. [...]

  • Harriet Tubman Cynthia Erivo

    AMC Theatres Fires Three Employees Over Racial Profiling Incident During 'Harriet' Screening

    AMC Theatres has fired three employees in one of its Louisiana multiplexes after an incident during a screening of “Harriet.” An African American women’s group called the 504 Queens allege that 15 members were racially profiled while watching “Harriet” at AMC’s Clearview Palace 12 in Metairie on Nov. 7. A letter sent from the organization’s [...]

  • Byron Allen

    Byron Allen's Discrimination Suit Against Comcast Should Be Allowed to Move Forward

    More than anything, the Supreme Court justices seemed bemused. Comcast executives and entrepreneur Byron Allen came to the nation’s high court on Nov. 13 to duke it out over the racial discrimination case that Allen’s Entertainment Studios has pursued since 2015.  But the question put before the court was a narrow issue of legal precedent [...]

  • Christine Baranksi Karey Burke Coutney Kemp

    Christine Baranski, Karey Burke and Courtney Kemp Set for Brandon Tartikoff Awards

    Christine Baranski, “Power” creator and showrunner Courtney Kemp and ABC Entertainment chief Karey Burke are among the five recipients set for the 2020 Brandon Tartikoff Awards, to be handed out in January as part of the annual NATPE conference in Miami. Jeff Zucker, chairman of news and sports for WarnerMedia and president of CNN Worldwide, [...]

  • BMI’s Charlie Feldman Retiring After 31

    BMI’s Charlie Feldman Retiring After 31 Years With Company

    Charlie Feldman, BMI’s Vice President of Creative in New York, announced today that he will retire from the company at the end of the year. A 31-year veteran of BMI, Feldman will continue to consult for the company in the new year, according to the announcement. Mike O’Neill, President and CEO of BMI, said, “I [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content