Ok, here’s the situation. You’ve got a big new track coming out in four week’s time and you’ve shot a professional music video for the release. But now you’re thinking, “Where should I upload my music video?”
Obviously, you’re going to be putting it on YouTube. But you have two options and a big decision to make. Do you upload it to your own YouTube channel? Or do you upload it to a platform – like GRM Daily, SBTV, Link Up TV, etc.
This requires some serious thought. There’s no right or wrong answer but you should definitely spend some time going over the pros and cons of each approach.
That’s what we’ll be doing in this article, which is part of our Advice for Artists series. Do check out all of the other posts as well!
Uploading to your own YouTube channel
The easiest thing to do is simply create your own YouTube channel and upload the video there. After all, you have an Instagram account, a Twitter account, a Soundcloud account, etc. Surely it makes sense to have your own YouTube channel too?
But hold on a second! Before you start creating your new YouTube account, let’s run through some of the pros and cons of uploading your music video to your own channel.
- Price: It’s free, whereas most platforms will charge you a fee for uploading to their channel.
- Revenue: Once your YouTube channel reaches 1,000 subscribers you can turn on monetization.
- CTA: Add a “call-to-action” via cards, an end screen, and links in the video description.
- Analytics: Get access to loads of useful stats such as traffic sources and audience location/age/gender.
- Notifications: It’s easier to engage with subscribers and reply to comments on your own channel.
- Exposure: Is anyone actually going to see your new music video?
That’s right. As far as I can tell, there’s only really one downside to uploading your music video to your own YouTube channel. But it’s a massive one!
What’s the point of spending a grand (or more) on a professional music video, only to upload it to your own channel, with 10 subscribers? Chances are, the only people that are going to see it are your friends and family. You’ll do well to get 1,000 views.
For every “County Lines” that goes viral on a brand new YouTube channel there are thousands and thousands of other music videos that just sit there on something like 257 views. Dead and buried.
So, if you’re a new independent artist who’s just produced their first music video, you better have a pretty good plan for how you’re going to generate exposure if you’re planning on uploading your video to your own channel.
If not, you should probably consider uploading it to a platform…
Uploading to a platform
I won’t go through the pros and cons of uploading to a platform because they’re just the opposite of the pros and cons of uploading to your own YouTube channel. But let’s talk about that exposure idea a bit more.
GRM Daily’s YouTube channel has almost 3 million subscribers! Our new MXRCY channel has just 39. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that you’ll get more eyeballs on your music video if you upload it to GRM Daily. But just how many views can you expect to get from a platform?
‘Barking’ by Ramz is the most-watched video on GRM Daily’s YouTube channel with 69 million views. But obviously you’re very unlikely (massive understatement alert) to match that with one of your tracks.
So how many views should you be able to get on a major platform? One million? Half a million? A hundred thousand?
Well, maybe. There are plenty of videos that reach those milestones. But they tend to be from somewhat “known” artists. Unknown artists appear to get somewhere between 5,000 and 30,000 views after uploading to a platform like GRM Daily, SBTV or Link Up TV.
Which platform is best?
I’ve just mentioned the three biggest YouTube channels for UK urban music videos. We should probably throw Mixtape Madness into the “mix” as well. And then there are a few other notable channels such as Plessplay Media, JDZmedia and P110. But which one should you choose?
GRM Daily is the biggest and most popular of the channels in 2020. They have the most subscribers (2.9 million), the most total views (a whopping 3.1 billion), and feature many of the biggest names in UK rap. They also have 1.5 million followers on Instagram.
They release 5-10 new music videos every single day and I’ve heard that they charge something like £300-500 for an upload! Plus they collect the YouTube ad revenue from the video.
While we’re on the topic of money… Some artists will say that they don’t want to upload to a platform because they don’t want to give up the potential YouTube ad revenue. But let’s be honest, your video probably isn’t going to pass 25,000 views – so you’ve only missed out on £50 (at most) in earnings. If it does happen to get 69 million views like Barking then, yeah, GRM might have earned £100k off of your video, but by that point you’re not going to care anyway.
SBTV (started in 2007 by Jamal Edwards) was the original YouTube channel for UK urban music. They have 1.2 million subscribers but haven’t been uploading anywhere near as many videos as GRM Daily recently.
If GRM Daily peaked in 2018, then SBTV peaked back in 2015. I’m not even 100% sure if they take submissions anymore. Some rappers have told me that SBTV will upload your video for free. But it looks like they’ve changed direction somewhat. All the videos they’ve uploaded recently are SBTV Originals rather than SBTV Submissions.
I get the impression that Jamal is now focused on helping artists he likes, rather than trying to endlessly grow his platform or milk more and more money out of people.
Link Up TV
Link Up TV is the second biggest YouTube channel, after GRM Daily, in 2020. They have 1.8 million subscribers and, strangely, 1.8 billion total views. I’m not sure how much Link Up TV charge for video submissions (if you know, please let us know) but I would guess slightly less than GRM Daily.
I feel like Link Up TV is more suited to UK Drill than GRM Daily. It’s grittier. But that doesn’t mean they don’t accept other genres too. It’s worth remembering that with all of these platforms, you might submit your music video only to have it turned down anyway. They don’t just accept anyone who’s willing to pay!
Mixtape Madness, Pressplay Media, JDZmedia & P110
Mixtape Madness (926K), Pressplay Media (491K) and P110 (354K) are three other channels you might consider uploading music to – if you’re a UK rap, trap or drill artist. Again, I’m not sure how much they charge for an upload but I would imagine it’s in the £100-300 range.
JDZmedia (466K) is a dedicated grime platform based in Birmingham. They charge £100 for an upload. I know that Guni chose to upload his latest video Shalom to JDZmedia (after uploading his first video Introduction to his own YouTube channel) and that’s now well on its way to 5,000 views.
Rapzilla, Gospel Hydration & BLSSD Music
If you’re a Christian artist (MXRCY is a UK Christian Rap platform), you also have a few Christian YouTube channels to consider.
Rapzilla is the home of Christian Rap music and they have 219K subscribers on their YouTube channel. The platform is mainly US-focused but they have been supporting a few UK artists recently. Also, the Christian Rap scene is much bigger in the US, so uploading to Rapzilla could be a good way to reach potential fans in America.
Gospel Hydration is UK-based but they cover a much broader range of Christian music. They have 121K subscribers. BLSSD Music are similar. They upload a lot of audio content to YouTube and have 129K subscribers.
It really depends on who you want to reach with your music video. If you’re trying to get better known among Christian circles, then submitting your video to one of these Christians channels is a great idea. If you’re trying to reach out to non-believers, then I doubt many of those are going to be checking Rapzilla or Gospel Hydration.
Here are a couple of real-world examples to demonstrate the potential benefits of both strategies…
JME is an independent grime artist who uploads all of his music videos to his own “ManBetterKnow” YouTube channel. And his channel is huge. He’s got 467K subscribers (more than some of the platforms) and 127 videos.
I don’t think his channel is even monetized – which is so JME. But if it was, this YouTube Calculator estimates he could be earning up to £5,000 a month from it!
Now JME’s been uploading videos to YouTube since 2007 (so don’t expect to be earning anywhere near that from your own channel with just three videos). But it’s worth considering the long-term earnings potential of your music video catalogue. If you upload all of your videos to a platform like GRM Daily, they’ll be the ones collecting all of that potential future revenue. And, as I said before, it looks like they’re doing pretty well off of that!
JME has successfully built up his own YouTube channel over the past 13 years. He’s now at a point where he can release a music video and easily get over 500,000 views in the first month.
Along the way, he’s uploaded lots of other content too. I remember watching all of the videos he used to put up of him getting stopped by police in his car. Some of these are on over a million views! And he’s got plenty of other “behind the scenes” videos too that are great for connecting more personally with your fans.
Now it is worth pointing out that JME was already well-known when he uploaded his first music video to his own YouTube channel back in March 2007. He’d been a regular amongst underground grime sets and pirate radio appearances since 2004. So he wasn’t going in completely cold and unknown. And these music video submission platforms like GRM Daily didn’t even exist back then!
I wonder, if JME was to emerge onto the music scene now, in 2020, would he submit his music videos to GRM Daily instead? Probably not. But then again, he is a bit a maverick.
ARTAN is a rapper from North London. He’s been releasing music since 2016 and has built a solid fanbase over the past four years. He initially made a name for himself with a string of cold freestyles on BL@CKBOX, Hardest Out (by GRM Daily) and Next Up? (by Mixtape Madness).
When it comes to putting out visuals for his music, like JME, ARTAN is relentless. In fact, he doesn’t have many tracks without a professional music video. I counted 24 on YouTube! But unlike JME, he’s made use of the platforms.
He’s got 8 on GRM Daily, 4 on SBTV, 4 on Link Up TV, and 2 on Mixtape Madness.
“Where are the other 6?”, I hear you ask. Well, in 2019 ARTAN began uploading his music videos to his own YouTube channel. And, strangely enough, he’s been getting more views on his own channel than he was on the major platforms!
- 29K = Negative Thoughts (15th September 2016)
- 74K = Needed Me Remix (13th January 2017)
- 62K = Mission (3rd March 2017)
- 142K = Mary (20th April 2017)
- 379K = Opposite Interests (18th May 2017)
- 58K = My Brudda (30th May 2017)
- 94K = Circus Show (1st August 2017)
- 47K = Don’t Lie (17th August 2017)
- 283K = Opposite Interests Remix (1st October 2017)
- 41K = Crossroad (26th October 2017)
- 35K = Doubt It (1st February 2018)
- 34K = No 1 (2nd March 2018)
- 44K = Psychology (20th April 2018)
- 38K = Plaza (28th June 2018)
- 38K = Play Your Position (30th July 2018)
- 107K = Brok£n (15th November 2018)
- 132K = Profits and Losses (28th February 2019)
- 50K = Anything (14th November 2019)
- 374K = Falling (2nd December 2019)
- 49K = Bank Account (8th March 2020)
- 256K = Whym I High? (22nd March 2020)
- 64K = Best Life Freestyle (12th April 2020)
I need to have a chat with ARTAN at some point and find out a bit more about his YouTube strategy. All of that previous exposure via the platforms must have helped him gain a ton of new fans. But he’s clearly doing something right on his own channel too!
If you’re an independent artist with no fanbase (or a tiny fanbase) then I think you’d be mad not to make use of platforms like GRM Daily.
Your #1 priority at this stage in your career should be reaching potential fans. There’s no point making a dope music video for your new track, uploading it to your own YouTube channel, and then it only getting seen by your friends and family. The whole point of making the music video was to display yourself (and your music) to the world. So put it on a platform with the ability to do just that!
However, once you have a reasonable fanbase you should definitely think about creating your own channel. As I said, there are loads of benefits to having your music videos on your own YouTube channel – it’s not just about the money.
And don’t forget to upload some other content too. Your YouTube channel is a great place to build a stronger relationship with your fans. Part of the reason why I’m such a big JME fan (in case you hadn’t already guessed) is from watching all of his random “non-music video” videos back in the day.
Of course, today you can share those on other social media platforms. But there’s definitely a demand from fans for more artist behind the scene videos, like this…
Overall, I think ARTAN is a great example to copy. He makes great visuals and puts them out regularly.
Could he have transitioned to his own YouTube channel earlier than he did? Maybe. But saying that, ‘Profits and Losses’ certainly feels like it marks the beginning of a new era in ARTAN’s career, so perhaps that was the perfect time for him to switch up his YouTube strategy.
Now we just need a few behind the scenes videos from him!