YouTube for Musicians: 4 Fundamentals of YouTube Music

1. The Basics: YouTube Music vs YouTube Premium

Launched in 2018 and formerly known as Google Play Music, YouTube Music hosts 50 million+ subscribers[1]. With YouTube Music, listeners can stream songs, albums, playlists, artist radio stations, remixes, and live versions of tracks, as well as music videos.

There are currently two versions of YouTube Music:

YouTube Music

  • The basic app which is free to download and use

  • Includes advertisements

  • Audio-visual (the selected track will play with the existing music video)


YouTube Music Premium

  • Background play (users can exit the app and continue listening)

  • Ad-free music

  • Includes audio-only mode

  • Music library available without internet connection

  • $9.99/month

Who's Listening? YouTube Music is currently available in 95 countries and is most popular with users under 25 years old- many of whom access the app multiple times per day for entertainment and news sources.

2. The Art of Art Tracks

Whenever you upload a new release to TuneCore and select to distribute that release to YouTube, an Art Track will be generated automatically. Art Tracks consist of the artwork provided and all information (metadata) from the release.

YouTube Art Tracks identify audio recordings based on ISRCs, release identifiers (UPCs), and labels. YouTube will create Art Tracks for each unique combination of these fields. If a same track appears on multiple albums, the Art Track will display the artwork and title of the album with the earliest release date.

How Do Fans Find Your Music on YouTube?

TuneCore's digital delivery pipeline guarantees that all of your selected releases will be distributed to both YouTube and YouTube Music. If another song from the same album suddenly goes viral, your fans will be able search directly by that track name and find your entire discography, making Art Tracks key for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). By monitoring your SEO and YouTube Analytics, you can view which of your content is most popular and create new music videos to correspond with your latest releases.

3. Setting Up Your Official Artist Channel on YouTube

An Official Artist Channel brings all of the content from your different YouTube channels together into one space, combining your personal video uploads and Art Tracks. An OAC also brings all of your subscribers together into the same place, delivering instant notifications to all of your followers whenever you release something new.
To be eligible for an Official Artist Channel, your channel must meet the following criteria:

  • Own and operate a YouTube channel that represents one artist or band (see below)

  • Have at least 3 official releases on YouTube delivered and distributed by a music distributor or label

  • Have no policy violations

When your request for an Official Artist Channel is approved, YouTube Music will automatically generate a new channel for you under your artist name where you will find your entire discography organized into album section(s) and all of your official music videos compiled into new playlist(s). You will not be able to edit these albums & playlists; however, you can upload new content above these locked videos to promote any new content on your OAC.

4. What Are YouTube Shorts?

  • Short-form, vertical videos created using a smartphone & uploaded directly to YouTube

  • Watched by 1.5 billion+ active users every month[2]

  • 5 trillion+ all time views, averaging over 30 billion+ views per day.

  • Redefining the reach of music on YouTube.

Using YouTube's built-in creation tools, you can capture, edit, add music and animated text, control the speed of your footage, and edit together multiple 15-second video clips to create Shorts. Viewers and followers can share, comment, like, dislike, or subscribe to your channel while viewing the video. Content uploaded to Shorts doesn't disappear and remains discoverable on YouTube.
Utilizing both Shorts and longform YouTube videos will help you build your audience. Artist channels uploading both video forms have seen better overall watch time and subscriber growth relative to artists only uploading longform videos.