How to Promote Your Music More Efficiently By Finding Your Niche ~ Praverb Dot Net (courtesy of P the Wyse)

It is well known that if you want to get different results you need to do something you haven’t done before. To move quickly than your competition and work a lot more efficiently than them, you need to take some things into consideration before deciding how you are going to promote your music.

Why should you limit your niche and how can that be more profitable?

If you sell something to EVERYBODY you end up selling it to NOBODY. By EXACTLY defining your target audience you already have more chances of success than somebody who hasn’t done this first and starts promoting right away.

The reason is, your music will be targeted easier and your listeners will love it.Find a niche where you can dominate as opposed to competing with EVERYONE in the music industry.

Needless to say if you got this figured out, promotion costs (and in the costs we include TIME as well, not only money) will be lower because you know where your audience is, what they are looking for and you don’t waste your time and money promoting in places that aren’t beneficial for you.

Don’t be the small fish in the big pond, be the biggest fish in the small pond!

It is important to be an absolute master in your domain. Don’t waste time by trying to develop abilities that you are not good at to please people.

Find out what you are good at, you surely have an idea about this up until now, and develop them to the point of mastery, it takes less time and you will find it a lot more pleasurable and feel that you are “on your path”.

Stop doing what everybody is doing and stop wasting time to please everyone. Know who are you promoting your music to, understand the power of Social Networks, forums, YouTube, and other sites.

Establish your target audience and start promoting in your niche. I promise that you will achieve more success doing it this way.

In other words don’t just invest and hope for the best but figure out carefully what you are good at. Find out who is interested in listening to your type of music and promote in places that are already filled with these people so there is a much higher rate of converting them into real fans.

This is a guest blog written by Hip Hop Crash Beats: For more information about this topic and for industry quality instrumentals please visit www.hiphopcrashbeats.com.
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written by Wendy Day (wendyday.com)

money2Marketing is the overall image and awareness that is put forth by your brand as you advertise, promote, do interviews and basically spread the word about your music (which is your product). One of the keys is to know exactly who will buy your music, and tailor your marketing campaign to them. The best method to draw in fans is “word of mouth,” so therefore your goal should always be to spark positive conversation (word of mouth) about you and your music.

Who Is Your Potential Fan?

Taking it outside of music for a minute, can we all agree that the person who shops at K-Mart is different from the person who shops at Neiman Marcus? The person who drives a Hyundai, may have different interests from the person driving a Bentley? So back to music now—the person who is listening to or buying Justin Bieber’s music is different from the person who supports Trae. Beiber has a younger audience, more pop music, radio, and internet driven, while Trae makes music to ride and/or smoke to—meaning the fan is older and probably more likely to be male. They are also more likely to buy a CD at the local Swap Meet or the Car Wash, while a Bieber fan may be more likely to download his music to an iPod, smartphone, or MP3 player, or buy the CD at the Best Buy next to the Mall for $9.99.

So, if I was marketing a young pop artist, I might try to book him on Nickelodeon shows and set up a high school or Mall tour. With a rapper who doesn’t appeal to a teenage demographic, I’d probably do more of a college tour, and club dates reaching a 21 and older crowd. So, it’s important to know who is buying your music. You need to be able to figure out the demographic for your music or your song, and that will let you know the direction your marketing needs to take. If you are not able to determine who your fan base is yourself, you need to find someone around you who can. But they better be right. If you are making music that appeals to white skateboard twenty-something kids and you market to young inner city teens, you are fucked in the gate!

When I was out on the road with BloodRaw in February of ’08, I kept dragging him to college campuses because he makes anthem type party raps, and he kept telling me’ “Let’s go to the ‘Hood.“ It’s not that one is right and one is wrong, but that he knows who buys and listens to his music. In this case, we blitzed the ‘hoods first and then grew out to the college and party crowds. He had a perfect understanding of who his market is.

How Will You Reach Them?

Once you know who will buy your music, it becomes pretty clear what your image needs to be to reach your market. In Young Jeezy’s case, he’s that dope boy turned rapper who’s about making money, partying in the clubs, buying material items, and driving expensive cars. In Jay Z’s case, he’s that Billionaire Mogul running his own empire and living the life that this brings. Kanye is the intelligent around-the-way guy who dropped out of college to pursue a dream and feels a need to voice his opinion about everything publicly. Lil Kim and Foxy Brown are the old school ‘hood chicks that every guy knows and loves while Nicki Minaj is the new “Barbie” on the block. Odd Future are the zany “I don’t give a fuck” guys who act a fool and hate everything. Wiz Khalifa is your boy who all he wants to do is smoke weed.

In terms of imaging, Jeezy could rock a suit, but you’d assume he was going to court. He’s much more at home in some high end black jeans and a white or black T shirt with some Gucci or Prada shoes. Jay Z is more likely to be recognized in a button down shirt with cuff links or an expensive Italian suit. Image is a big part of marketing. What is your image? What sentence would a fan use to describe you? Is that description unique or does it fit ten other rappers?

Now, as you promote your image to the masses to gain awareness, it’s important that your message is clear, concise, and easy to understand. A flyer with 20 things crowded on it, and no empty space for the eye to rest, is a waste. Having things mis-spelled or grammatically incorrect is terrible too. Photos that are too low resolution that they look grainy and out of focus make you look cheap and clueless. The look of your promotional materials says a lot about who you are as a person. It would be easier for Yo Gotti to get away with something grimy and street than Jay Z or Puffy. Image is everything, and yours should be consistent.

If you have no understanding of design or aesthetics, find someone who does. If you suck at writing copy, find someone who has that talent to write the words for your flyers, social media pages, website, bio, and CD booklets (liner notes). Find people who are good at what they do and hire them to help you. Know your role and play it. Don’t try to do everything yourself. Teamwork is key here.

When you choose your own lane, try not to bite what has come before you. There is already a Jay Z, already a Lil Wayne, already a Drake. Try not to copy their style or image or sound. Usually the one who does it first, does it best, so be unique.

I suggest to small labels all of the time that they use one image of the artist to have consistency in marketing. First of all, you don’t have the budget of a major label who can afford to market Rick Ross in a suit, a sweatsuit, as well as street clothes. Pick one image and use that for your CD cover, vehicle wrap, website, flyers, posters, etc. It is very rare that a fan recalls a new artist’s name. There are just too many new artists. So very often they will go into the store asking for the kid who is rapping next to a Lamborghini on his posters, or that kid who is into skateboarding, etc. Make it easy for people to figure out who you are. Use one strong image that stands out to market yourself, and sets you apart from everyone else.

When I first started working with TMI Boyz in 2008, our t-shirts were so ugly that I would never wear them. We gave out like 10,000 of those ugly shirts. Finally, we had the logo and shirts redesigned. We had everybody asking for our shirts and wearing them (including me). We even had folks offering to buy them from us (truth is t-shirts are more expensive to print, so we should sell the t-shirts and give out the CDs for free. Ha ha ha ha).

Your marketing mix should consist of whatever you can afford from the following–

Promotions:
Street promotion
Radio promotion
Club promotion
Retail store promotion
Internet promotion
Social media marketing
Publicity (blog, magazine, and media mentions)
Promotional Tour

Advertising:
Magazine ads
Billboards
Cable TV
Radio Ads
Internet Banner Ads

Tools:
Videos & Behind-the-scenes footage
Snippet CDs
Mixed CDs
T-Shirts
Wrapped Vehicles
Posters/Flyers/Post Cards

Don’t forget to incorporate the internet as part of your campaign. While we still aren’t 100% digital yet in this era, it is a crucial part of your marketing mix. To those of you with no budget who think free internet promotions is enough to build an artist, you are wrong. It is exactly what it is: inexpensive promotions, but just one part of your whole marketing pie. You still need the streets, clubs, and real world promotion.

I can’t stress enough the importance of your imaging and marketing. Make sure your messages are clear, well designed, spelled correctly and grammatically correct. And most of all, make sure you are reaching the people who will buy your music, with your imaging, your design, and your marketing mix. This should put you one step closer to success whether your plan is to stay independent or to attract legitimate deal offers from established record labels. (2/2013)

Building A Buzz

February 25, 2013

by Wendy Day (wendyday.com)

In the early 1980s, when rap started, there were few rappers and producers, so they had no difficulty standing out. Today, it seems everyone wants to be a rapper or a producer. I sometimes think we have more rappers than fans…

As more people want to get into the rap music business, it gets cheaper and easier to do so. The price of production equipment, recording equipment, and microphones has dropped substantially, making rapping and producing open to more people. And it has become easier than ever to get music to the masses by uploading finished songs to the internet to share them with the world on free social media pages (Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, etc), music sharing pages (SoundCloud, BandCamp, ReverbNation, etc) or inexpensive websites. Marketing has become cheaper and easier as one can sit at home and use the internet to market, promote, and drive traffic to one’s website or Tumblr page. Because of this, it seems that everyone wants to be a rapper.

Distributing music is easier than ever. Today, an artist is rare if his or her music is NOT for sale at iTunes or available for streaming at Pandora or Spotify. The playing field has been leveled. Any artists smart enough to market and promote their music, and who have some money (budget) to invest into themselves can build a career in music–or at least feed themselves with their music. Hopefully.

The days of needing a record label are over. So why do so many people still want to be signed to a record label?

Regardless, there are less labels, less money in the industry, less people buying CDs, and less positions for artists to get signed to record labels. So if you really want to be an artist, and have your heart set on being part of the traditional music business, you will need to STAND OUT!

You stand apart from all of the others by building a buzz.

As I travel around the country, I meet tens of thousands of people who say they want a career as a rapper (and even more who say they want to be a producer) yet very few stand out. Handing a demo CD to anyone is a waste of time, energy, and has never been very effective at catching someone’s attention. What I do see, are the artists who stand out because they are putting in the work and building a buzz.

Grinding. An artist’s grind is far more important than their talent. Talent is easy to find—people who will work hard are less easy to find. You may think you are the most talented rapper around, but the truth is that talented rappers and producers are a dime a dozen. There are more than 300 million people in the United States.

Not only are you competing with other artists from your area, but you are competing with artists from all over the country. The odds of winning a lottery are probably greater. So how will you stand out?

The best way to do so is to choose an area that’s workable. I suggest taking a map and drawing a circle around your city that extends about a 5 hour driving time away from where you are based. That will become your territory—your marketing area. Your first step is to own the city or town that you are from, and then expand out slowly in that territory (the 5 hour circle around your home).

After you’ve made your songs, you will choose the best one to focus on as a single. It’s best to ask for feedback from strangers (malls, gas stations, and high schools are good places to get feedback) as to which song is your best one. Strangers will be far more honest than people who know you, plus they are your potential fans. To build a buzz in your own area, you will work that single locally. That means you will attend all of the legitimate open mics and showcases, perform as much as you can (if a major artist comes to town, you should be the opening act and you accomplish this by building relationships with the key clubs and promoters in your area), hang posters, distribute flyers—basically get your image and song in front of as many people as possible. Make sure all of the local DJs know who you are (club DJs, mixtape DJs, and even eventually the radio DJs). All of the employees at the local record stores and nightclubs should also know who you are.

It’s important to promote your song in as many places as potential consumers who’d buy your music will be. So, marketing yourself to retirement homes and nursery schools would not make sense, but college campuses, high schools, and ‘hood malls make perfect sense. Anyplace where large amounts of your potential fans gather is ideal. As your song and name catch on in your own area, you can begin to expand your buzz within that 5 hour circle. You can also begin to attend the regional conventions and record pools. You should already have some sort of buzz before traveling, unless you are attending to learn more about the business (there are many free websites these days where you can go to learn how the music industry works, however).

On the record label side (I’m talking about the real record labels—the ones that have a track record of success in putting out rap records, not Lil Rey Rey from down the block who printed up business cards saying he has a record label), the people who sign artists to their rosters are called “A and Rs.” Their job is to help the artists who are already signed to the label make their records, and to find new talent. Since there are tens of thousands of rappers and producers, it’s hard to catch their attention if you do not stand out. Almost all of the major labels prefer the A&Rs to find the artists making noise in their own areas: getting radio spins, building viral followings, and selling music on their own.

Last year, I attended 12 music industry conventions/gatherings/record pools. I received over 1,000 demo CDs, and I can’t even sign anyone to a record deal. Additionally, I receive over 100 emails, tweets, Facebook posts and links to music each week. So someone that CAN sign an artist, how many CDs and MP3s do you imagine they get in a week? The ONLY way you are going to stand out is if you put in the work and effort to build a buzz for yourself. Instead of going to them, you want them to come to you.

The chance of you sending a CD to a record label and getting their interest is so slim that the odds of you getting struck by lightning or winning a lottery are greater. Even someone very connected in the music business (like me) can’t help you if you don’t stand out among all of the other rappers and producers out there. Great music is no longer enough. You have to have a strong buzz, and you have to be willing to work harder than everyone else—not just in your own area, but in your own region. Without a buzz, you may as well just go get a job and make music to be happy as a hobby. By the way, there is nothing wrong with doing it for the love!!

Meanwhile, how will YOU stand out?

Reblogged from: BundlePost, courtesy of: Robert Caruso

A frequent question I get from my connections in the social graph is “How do I build a relationship with an influencer for my brand/product”. Though it is a common question, the answer isn’t as common.

Since I sincerely believe that social media marketing is a parallel universe to the real world, I always take a step back and consider what we do in real life. What are the steps we would take in our local offline environment to accomplish this? What adjustments can/should we make within the social sphere to help us achieve what we are wanting to do.

First, we need to understand that social media marketing is NOT about you. You have to have a mindset of giving, providing value to others and a willingness to help them succeed.

Secondly. you need to clearly define what you hope to accomplish by building the relationship with the influencer. Review your product? Have a phone call? Share your link? There are many different goals one could have for wanting to build a relationship with someone specific within social media. know what yours is.

Once you have aligned your thinking with the first and second points above, you can then follow these steps to best position yourself for a relationship:

1) Identify – Be sure that the person/brand you are targeting for the relationship makes sense. Identify the person(s) that are best suited for your brand, product or service.

2) Observe & Document – Do your research. Make sure you know what they do, their website and blog locations. Monitor their social posts and conversations and take note of who they are as a person and what drives their conversations. Pay specific attention to the human/personal topics that they engage around and document the information.

Don’t rush the observation step. Take time to understand the influencer. Rushing will usually result in missing the important subtle things that are most important! This can take a week or a month, depending on the person. Take your time…

3) Engage – Once you understand the topic drivers and personality of your influencer, begin to engage with them. Specifically comment on their posts, share their content and facilitate meaningful conversations with that person. If they have a blog, share their articles and comment on them. Look for ways you can assist them by furthering their reach, introducing them to prospects and retweet their relevant content.

*Important – A big mistake made at this stage is to do too much too quickly. Do NOT like/share bomb. (don’t like 5 posts on their wall in a row or RT their last 4 posts, etc.) This can come across as stalking or an obvious ploy. Use common sense and ramp up these activities over several weeks or months.

4) Build – Build a relationship with the influencer through more and more frequent conversations.

5) Ask/Answer – Ask open-ended questions about them, their articles and their business. The goal here is to continue to further the relationship building, but also foster a climate where the influencer begins asking YOU questions about what yo do. This is the point you know you have earned the right to talk about what you do and what you would like from them.

*Important – DO NOT ask for anything at any point before this stage. You must do the work prior to requesting a call, review of your service or sharing of your content. Also, be sure that you continue steps 3, 4 and 5 on an ongoing basis. Don’t make the influencer feel as though they had a horrible one night stand and were played.

I cannot stress enough that patience in the entire process is crucial. If you follow these techniques and take it slow, you will develop influencer relationships that will bring value to them and benefit your brand.

Robert M. Caruso
@fondalo
Founder/CEO – Bundle Post

Increasing Your YouTube Views

February 20, 2013

youtube-facts-figures-by-techwelkinGetting people to watch your videos on YouTube is a process. There is no one simple solution that’ll make your video go viral. First we have to realize that people upload 60 hours of video to YouTube EVERY MINUTE of EVERY DAY! Pause for a second….that’s an hour of video that just got uploaded to YouTube! It would take 8 years to watch the videos uploaded to YouTube just today.

 There are over 500 million channels on YouTube. The site gets 800 million visitors per month and of course is accessible worldwide. YouTube Mobile gets 600 million views everyday. 500 YEARS of YouTube videos are watched everyday on Facebook alone. 100 million people take a social action on YouTube (likes, shares, comments, etc.) every week.

 The first thing I’d like to point out about YouTube is that 70% of the traffic comes from outside the U.S.; this means that YouTube is truly a global force. Since this blog is written for the purpose of helping aspiring artists, our focus is going to be those 8 million people in the U.S. who visit YouTube every day. We’re not going to ignore the international market, but the truth is that most of you are on a limited budget and can’t afford the hundreds of thousands of dollars that a national ad campaign costs, much less the millions required for an international ad campaign. (To our readers outside the U.S. there is still pertinent info here.) Now let’s talk about the process of getting views.

 There are several ways to get your video seen by more people. Here, at A Scratchy Throat we like to keep it simple yet effective. We assume that you’ve already created a YouTube account and named your channel. Once your account is setup and you have the video ready that you want to upload, the very first thing you’re going to do BEFORE uploading is rename the VIDEO FILE itself to contain relevant keywords about the content of the video. For example, a video name would be:

“cupid shuffle dance video.mov”

While your renamed video is uploading you can add your tags. Since I’m using an R&B artist like Cupid as an example, my keywords might include:

Cupid, New Cupid, soul, Lafayette, Hub City, Louisiana, music, family friendly, dance, dancing, fun, shuffle, “cupid shuffle”, “line dance”

 Some people even tag their video with other popular rappers names or events in hopes that their video pops up when people search for “Lil Wayne” or “Miami Heat” or “Rihanna”. I don’t suggest you try this, because it doesn’t get you more views. If you’re having problems choosing, the YouTube Keyword Tool will help you figure out what keywords to add to your video.

 Next is your video description. Start your video description with a link to your website or blog (make sure that your video is embedded on the page you link to). Write up at least 2 paragraphs for the video description section that tells what the video is about. Be creative and include your keywords in the natural flow of these two or three paragraphs. YouTube uses this description when people search for videos, so the link and the description will help you to get views more than you may think.

 Once you’ve got your tags and video description done, double check to make sure that ALL the keywords that relate to your video are included in the “tags” section of your video. This helps with Search Engine Optimization for YouTube searches.

 Now that the groundwork is laid, and the video is uploaded, it’s time to start sharing your video.

 Embed the video to your site or blog. Encourage you’re your friends and fellow bloggers to visit and comment on your video. When you “embed” a video to your site it allows your fans to view the video on your site without having to go to YouTube. If you have friends with websites, ask them to embed your video as well. Make sure you do the same for them. Multiple people working towards the same goals (increased YouTube views for all) is the definition of networking.

 On Facebook, embed your video to YOUR OWN page and your fan page. Don’t bother posting it to your friends’ pages, or putting it in people’s inboxes, it annoys people more than influencing them to check out your video. It’s better to post the video to your page, tagging your CLOSEST friends in it. Post the video as a status and either to pay to have it promoted ($7) or post it several times a day for the first few days, then maybe twice a day afterwards. You CAN ask your friends to share the video to their pages. Think about it, isn’t your video more likely to be seen if 100 people share it with their friends, instead of you posting it all over their pages without their knowledge? Don’t be the ass clown who posts their video to all of their Facebook friends’ pages. These are the posts that get deleted, not watched.

 On Twitter include the link in tweets about your new video. Do NOT @people your video link. This is annoying, doesn’t increase views, and often gets you blocked. Twitter is a means of communication and interaction. Don’t be the person who just @s links and tweets about their new “hot” mixtape or “smash” single. This doesn’t draw you any extra attention or give you more views. Engage in conversation with people on twitter, and as you connect with each other introduce them to the OPTION of checking out your video. @ing a link to your video to your followers or “important” people in the music industry is SPAM. It’s a waste of time and does much more harm than good. Don’t be the douchebag spammer who gets muted or blocked!

 Lastly, no matter which social network you’re using, encourage sharing and commenting. With our example above, “The Cupid Shuffle,” you might even ask your fans to create their own response video doing “The Cupid Shuffle” and then you can tweet and share the links to THEIR version of your video as well. You could even conduct a contest and give a prize to the person with the best response video. The Harlem Shake is an example of this promotional idea that went viral.

 The possibilities and probabilities for your new video are endless. Just realize that Rome wasn’t built in a day. You’ll have to stick to your guns and not give up. Don’t get discouraged and start doing what all the other guys with 100 views are doing. Don’t become a spammer. The “easy” techniques aren’t working for THEM and they won’t work for you either.

 Everybody can’t be the next “Psy” and have a BILLION views of their video. Although, you DO have a chance to be successful!! Follow these basic tips and continue to educate yourself on how to get the most views for your video, and you’ll see your channel subscribers growing daily.

 Lastly, just in case you didn’t know, buying views doesn’t work. Knowledge, dedication, hard work and persistence do work. Do what works and maybe you’ll see us tweeting about how much we like your new video (but don’t spam us your link!! LOL).

Tony Guidry is Senior Marketing Manager for A ScratchyThroatA Scratchy Throat – the brainchild of industry mainstay Wendy Day – provides professional social media marketing specifically designed for today’s aspiring artists.

The primary focus of the blogs contained here at A Scratchy Throat  are to help you boost your social reach in today’s online market. Every day, people use social networks to help them sell their music, get shows or sell merch. You can become one of these people with the right amount of research and determination.

 Negative people always know how to fail. They say YouTube doesn’t work because you can buy views; or that Facebook doesn’t give you a proper percentage of fan interaction; or that Twitter isn’t a proper platform to market your songs. They tell you that Reverbnation and Soundcloud are like ghost-towns (nobody goes there). That MySpace is dead. Negative people say that nobody buys music anymore; and that everyone downloads their music for free.

 Negative people tell you these things because they actually believe them. It’s your job to do your research and find out for yourself if what these negative people believe is true.

 Kendrick Lamar went platinum last year, and before you say it’s because he’s signed to a major label, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis are independent artists and their single Thrift Shop just went 3x platinum.

It’s your choice to make the most out of every networking opportunity that comes your way. Don’t forget to look at your own expectations of social networks and decide HOW to approach promoting your music online.

AN ONLINE PRESENCE IS NECESSARY FOR YOUR SUCCESS IN TODAY’S MUSIC INDUSTRY.

So where do you start? What network do you use? Well, that depends on the kind of music you make and who you believe is your audience. Billions of people use social networks. Here’s a list of the more popular ones for our purposes:

Now before u choose the site with the most visitors, let’s look at the ages of the users of some of the various network sites:

Modified graphic from pingdom.com

We all know music doesn’t appeal to everyone in all age groups (although I’ve heard many of you say “everyone is my target market”). Even though there are 60 year old women who like 2 Chainz, his main target market is 18-34 men. Even though some 10 year olds may like to groove with Maze & Frankie Beverly, the band’s target audience is 35+ (they haven’t released new music since 1993). So evaluate your music and content. You don’t want to target people 45+ years old if you’re a hipster or gangster rapper; and you don’t want to target 0-17 year olds if you play traditional jazz. Choose your target audience appropriately, and use the network where you will have the biggest possible audience.

Paying close attention to the chart above, you’ll notice that Tumblr has the most 18-24 year old users. If you’re a young rapper and want to engage people from 18-34, then it looks like your target audience uses mostly Tumblr, Blogger, & MySpace. But if you’re more of an R&B type artist and want to target ages 25-44, your audience is biggest on Twitter, Blogger & WordPress. Finally, if you cater to a more mature audience, like 35+, then Facebook, WordPress & LinkedIn hold bigger parts of your target market. Now these indicators don’t mean that you should shut down or not use ALL social networks. This is just an example of the research that you have to do to locate your potential audience.

If you dedicate the time, an internet search will show you which social networks have the most women, the most college graduates, or the most high school dropouts. I think that I’ve given you enough to get you started in locating the people you want to share your music with online. Now it’s up to you to get your profiles setup and to start engaging the people who have similar interests to you. Remember, DO NOT spam your links to people’s pages!!! That doesn’t work!! Get to know ’em first– you’ve narrowed down your prospects and are talking to your target market. Make sure that your aim is steady before you fire!

Tony Guidry is Senior Marketing Manager for A Scratchy Throat. A Scratchy Throat – the brainchild of industry mainstay Wendy Day – provides professional social media marketing specifically designed for today’s aspiring artists.

6 lessons in launching a branded YouTube channel

By: Michael Estrin, reposted from http://ow.ly/hBbvO

Everywhere you turn it’s hard to escape the idea these days that brands are becoming publishers. Or at least, it’s hard to escape the idea that brands are trying to become publishers.

Only time will tell whether this is a new paradigm or a passing trend. But whether we’re talking about Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, or even a plain vanilla website — how old fashioned! — the conversation has shifted toward a heavy emphasis on content that brands either produce or curate and then distribute on their very own platform, bypassing a media intermediary.

The idea, in a nutshell, is that brands of all categories must adapt to the new publishing model and morph into something akin to their entertainment cousins if they are to survive and thrive in a media environment where it gets harder everyday to capture a consumer’s attention. Brands that had their own YouTube channels were viewed as cutting edge 18 months ago — or maybe even a little beyond the cutting edge. Today, few people ask whether a brand should have a YouTube channel. Instead, the question is, what should a brand do with its YouTube channel?

While that’s ultimately a question for each brand (and the agencies that handle their business) to answer, there are several larger questions brands should be asking about their YouTube channels. After all, a handful of brands are clearly engaging as if they’ve been in the content business for years, but many more are quite obviously stuck in neutral. So to help your brand take a look at its YouTube channel with fresh eyes, I’ve asked several agencies to share what they believe are some of the fundamental concerns to focus on when planning a YouTube channel.

Start with the basics

In a lot of ways, there’s nothing quite like YouTube. But from a marketing perspective, it’s important to approach YouTube as you would any other campaign, explains John Montgomery, CEO of Threshold.

Montgomery advocates approaching the idea of a branded YouTube channel with the following fundamental questions: “Who is your target audience, and what types of content do they seek out? What does your brand stand for, and what content is a natural extension of your brand’s DNA? What are your overall marketing goals, and what do you hope a YouTube strategy will accomplish for you?”

Often times, the answers to these questions will dictate strategy. But just as important, they can help focus your team around a larger question: Should we have a YouTube channel?

That question may seem like heresy in a world where it’s now assumed that all brands are — or should be — content producers, but the truth is a little more nuanced, and what works for one brand may not work for another. Or, put another way: It may be true that all brands need to think like publishers, but not all publishers produce the same material on the same platforms.

“With the various types of content that you can produce, and that are invariably popular on YouTube (short-form humor, episodic webisodes, TV ads, DIY videos, product tutorials, kitties doing pretty much anything, etc.), it is key to establish a long-term plan for the type of voice, tone, and purpose that your brand will commit to,” Montgomery says. “Purpose is one of the most important filters, because you will need to decide if you are trying to entertain, inform, educate, or inspire your budding audience.”

Have a strategy, make a plan

It may sound surprising, but many brands still use their YouTube channel as a holding place for repurposed television spots and one-off videos that may or may not have earned the brand much attention. But while it’s nice to see the brands on YouTube, Christopher Kingsley, CEO of 42, says brands need to do more than just put their content on YouTube.

“Individual or one-off videos produced for YouTube can be great, but having a comprehensive content strategy that covers how YouTube…