On August 1, 1981, the first video ever played on MTV was “Video Killed The Radio Star,” a prophetic song by The Buggles that accurately predicted the importance of music videos in an artist’s career. Over time, the “M” in MTV might as well have stood for “miscellaneous” as music was gradually replaced by original programming. The only hard rock artists that reaped the benefits of MTV were the hair metal bands of the 80’s; hard rock and metal were the first videos to disappear from the channel.
Hard rock artists that wanted to succeed would once again have to become radio stars. However, the limited playlists on commercial radio made it difficult for most artists to gain the necessary exposure to build a loyal fanbase.
In late 2001, satellite radio finally launched after years of delay, giving hard rock artists a platform that hadn’t existed since the early days of MTV. Over time, the merger of XM and Sirius reduced the number of hard rock stations offered, but the stations that have remained have become incredibly powerful and influential on hard rock music fans, Octane and Ozzy’s Boneyard in particular. However, while satellite radio has been helpful to numerous hard rock artists, there is still a limit to their playlists. More importantly, waiting to hear your favorite song on the radio is not ideal in today’s “on-demand” society.
YouTube may have started out as a personal video-sharing platform, but it has now evolved into the greatest asset that any hard rock artists has in their arsenal, provided that they use it correctly.
It would have seemed incomprehensible not too long ago, but CDs will one day be as obsolete as 8-tracks and cassettes. Many young music fans have never owned a CD, and probably never will. This paradigm shift towards music downloads has made it nearly impossible to survive on record sales alone. And while the younger generations will pay for some downloads, many see music as something that they should have access to without paying. Right or wrong, this is simply the way that things are today.
Every hard rock artist should be taking advantage of the opportunity that YouTube has provided to help build an audience and generate income. No longer is it necessary to have a substantial budget to create a music video. While many artists may still want to create visually appealing videos, the reality is that most music fans are perfectly content with the latest hard rock music trend on YouTube – lyric videos. These videos can be made for next to nothing and there is no cost to upload them to YouTube onto the artist’s official YouTube channel.
Creating a YouTube channel is simple, but the benefits are enormous, and if done properly, it has the potential to generate meaningful income in the following ways:
EXPOSURE – Hard rock music fans use YouTube to discover new music. The more videos that an artist has available, the more likely they are to create new fans. These fans may or may not purchase music, but they definitely attend live shows and buy merchandise when they do.
ADVERTISEMENTS – The money that can be made from allowing advertisements to be embedded into a video may not be significant, but it will add up over time. Fans may not love dealing with advertisements, but it is a tradeoff that they will accept if it means being able to listen to the music that they want whenever they want it.
PRESS COVERAGE – The “press” is no longer confined to niche magazines and heavily trafficked websites. Today, press coverage includes hard rock music blogs. The easiest way for any online publication or blog to expose readers to music is by embedding a YouTube video into the story, or adding it to a playlist. The bottom line is that songs without YouTube videos are less likely to get press coverage.
VIRAL BUZZ – Just like the press, fans want to be able to share music easily with their friends. The simplicity of sharing YouTube videos on social media makes it much easier for hard rock artists to cultivate new fans that will attend live shows, buy merchandise and possibly pay for downloads.
It is clear that some hard rock artists feel that YouTube is somehow taking away the potential to sell paid downloads or CDs, but ultimately, they are going to pay a steeper price for failing to look at the big picture.