Friday, February 27, 2009

Using YouTube effectively

Posting this as a sort of proof of Seth Godin's posts about the music industry, most recently this one.

Kina Grannis is a female singer-songwriter from California and is a great case study for the power of the web as a way to reach people and turn them into fans.

Back in late 2007 Kina started posting videos of herself singing and playing songs on her YouTube channel. A lot of people do this, but not many do it as well as Kina. She made it a regular thing, posting a song a week—sometimes her own originals, sometimes cover tunes (including Feist's "1234", Bon Iver's "Flume" and Iron & Wine's "Naked As We Came" above). Sometimes they're recoded live with the video, other times she puts the audio into GarageBand and adds additional parts. Pretty ambitious.

Besides being beautiful/adorable and really talented (regardless of whether you like her music or not), she’s extremely charming. She often speaks directly at the camera for a few minutes after playing her song and always comes across as very genuine and totally likable (and occasionally goofy).

She’s also a great self-promoter without tarnishing her image. She tells viewers about her upcoming shows or charity events where she’ll be performing. She and her friend and sometime collaborator David Choi did a video promoting JCPenney clothes. Heck, she even won a contest by writing a song promoting Digg (video here).

If she seems familiar at all it might be because she also won the Doritos Crash the Super Bowl contest 13 months ago and had 60 seconds of her song and video “Message From Your Heart” played during last year’s game (in addition to a deal with Interscope Records). But this contest wasn’t judged just by the folks at Doritos; winning required a fan base. Luckily, over the previous few months, Kina had been building a passionate one.

Over time, as more and more fans started subscribing to her YouTube channel she fostered a connection with them, evidenced by how she playfully lists her fans’ (and friends’) birthdays within her posts. Lots of them. She talks about training for a marathon. She’s remarkably open, or at least remarkably herself.

According to her YouTube chanel, this past January she was the #3 most-subscribed-to musician on YouTube and had over 700,000 plays.

She has songs available on iTunes, but I like the sound of the versions on YouTube better.

And she seems to be getting even more savvy. She runs ads along the bottom of her videos (kind of annoying but easy enough to close), surely bringing in some income. Her more recent posts begin with a caricature drawing of her and then her stylized initials, branding each video. She also has a few videos where she shows viewers how to play her songs.

Most importantly, she has found ways to connect to people using the web—without the need of a record contract (she opted out of the Interscope deal)—and she makes it look easy.*

Maybe it is.

Here she is playing an original called "The Goldfish Song”:

And here’s her YouTube channel and website.

* And she makes me feel lazy in the songwriting department. She's prolific.

1 comment:

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