YouTube: When Content Becomes Both Product and Marketing Vehicle

YouTube: When Content Becomes Both Product and Marketing Vehicle
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The other week, while watching the Grammy Awards on TV, I noticed that a few covers by musicians with significant followings on YouTube were played as the nominees were announced. It got me thinking about the role of YouTube in marketing these musicians, so I talked with Jose Norato, co-founder and music manager at Call Box Entertainment, whom I met through working on a project for one of the artists he manages.


de Leon: How has marketing YouTube artists and growing their business developed over the last few years?

Norato: I think YouTube is the most popular tool for people to discover new music these days. When people hear about a new artist from a friend, YouTube is where they go to check it out. If they hear a song on TV, they Google it and end up on the YouTube page.

de Leon: How do you help artists get YouTube subscribers who return to your artists’ YouTube channels and help you generate revenue (merch, lives shows, etc.) for your artists?

Norato: Ultimately it’s about a consistent stream of quality content. We can work every marketing angle in the book, but if the content isn’t good they’re not coming back.

de Leon: Do you ever struggle with cases of great social media success via YouTube (lots of views or sharing) that isn’t turning into revenue? How do you deal with that?

Norato: I’ve seen it happen with other people, but I haven’t experienced this personally. One of the main things we focus on is ensuring we have everything in place to maximize success across the board whenever an opportunity generates increased attention.

de Leon: What does that mean?

Norato: Well, many artists naively think that the only things that are important to their career are album/track sales and live shows. They believe those are the only ways for them to generate revenue and be able to write and perform music for a living. When in reality there are dozens of other ways to generate revenue, as long as you know what you’re doing and have everything in place to maximize opportunities.

I won’t go into specifics, but I’m a firm believer that if the machine is well oiled, every opportunity is going to have an effect across the board. If you have a placement on a TV show, you should be set up to generate revenue from the upfront usage fee from the placement, the writer and publisher performance royalties, track and album sales, YouTube views, the merch store, etc., etc.

de Leon: How much is YouTube a part of your work managing artists?

Norato: YouTube is just one of the dozens of things going on in an artist’s career. Some of my clients have very heavy involvement and some have very little…. A couple of my clients have been fortunate enough to achieve hundreds of thousands and sometimes even many millions of views on their videos. For these acts, YouTube is the catalyst that’s allowed them to develop the other areas of their careers.

de Leon: How do you figure out whether your efforts on YouTube are working?

Norato: Continued growth and engagement.

de Leon: What do you mean by growth: audience, revenue, a combination, something else entirely?

Norato: Usually a combination of everything across the board. The efforts and goals we’re seeking to achieve from YouTube vary from artist to artist so there’s no general answer for this.


Norato’s take on content as paramount mirrors the discussions I have read about lately on content marketing in general: that “a consistent stream of quality content” is essential to driving forward positive results. Knowing Norato’s strong roster of artists, I can see how he would believe that, but I would amend that slightly: Having a “consistent stream of” relevant content is what drives forward positive results. I think it’s particularly true for musicians who use YouTube because the content is both the product and the marketing vehicle. As for why I believe it’s more about relevant content than quality content, stay tuned for a follow-up post.

The 2012 Nielsen Music 360 Report seems to corroborate Norato’s sentiments (although the word choice differs) regarding YouTube as a big part of people’s music discovery process, and the change is most pronounced in teenage millennials. Nielsen’s Report shows that 7 percent of people discover music via YouTube, and 48 percent still discover music via radio and 10 percent through friends and family. Among teenagers, 64 percent listen to music via YouTube, 56 percent of them listen to it on the radio, 53 percent listen to it via iTunes, and 50 percent of teenagers listen to it via CDs.

Norato referred to YouTube as the “most popular tool” people gravitate toward after being introduced to music from another source. So, it sounds like the consumers Norato is talking about are using YouTube as a validation tool in their discovery process. Do you think that is the case?

How do you find new music? Do you use YouTube to market your products and grow your business? Do you believe results come down to quality or relevant content? Let us know in the comments, or e-mail to share your story.

Jose Norato is co-founder and music manager at Call Box Entertainment. “I help guide [musicians] through the crazy maze that artists must navigate to [achieve] their goals.” For more information on the artists he manages, visit Call Box Entertainment’s website here. Norato and I met through working together on a merchandise project for one of the artists he manages.

*The photo above is a screenshot from a video for an original song by Katy McAllister, one of the artists Norato manages. Her merchandise is available here.

**The interview above, conducted via e-mail, has been edited for clarity.

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