By Sahil Patel
It’s no secret that YouTube has become indispensable for the music industry, as the video giant is a large — and growing — resource for labels and artists to build audience and grow revenue.
Of course, a video platform that allows anyone to upload a video of almost anything can also be a great cause for concern for rights-holders. They certainly want more people to watch their videos and make money off of that viewership, but also want to protect how their valuable IP is delivered and seen by the masses.
Case in point: Major Lazer, the EDM group created by producer and artist Diplo. The group is responsible for what is arguably the “song of the summer,” “Lean On,” which currently sits at #20 on the Billboard Top 100 and #1 on Spotify’s Global Top 50 chart. It’s a popular song, and as a result, it’s popular on YouTube, too. Its official music video, for instance, has been viewed more than 176.7 million times on Major Lazer’s YouTube channel alone.
Anyone who has followed the tenuous relationship between the music industry and YouTube knows that’s not the whole story. How many of “Lean On”’s views occurred away from Major Lazer’s channel, on videos that were uploaded by users unaffiliated with the band or its label?
A significant number, according to YouTube network BroadbandTV, which helps Major Lazer manage its presence on YouTube. As of today, “Lean On” videos have generated more than 258 million views on the world’s biggest video site. That includes the official video, the lyric video (with more than 31 million views), and more than 33,000 fan-uploaded videos, which combined to generate 51 million views. With the latter, that’s a good chunk of views — and income — that the band previously might not have had access to, without the help of BroadbandTV, which provides content management and strategy services for media companies and rights-holders on YouTube.
YouTube, for its part, offers Content-ID, which helps content owners find, claim, and earn revenue off clips featuring their IP. But while Content-ID has helped deliver more than $1 billion in revenue for music rights-holders, it’s a self-service product; content owners are responsible for their own audits. Companies like BroadbandTV, on the other hand (Zefr is another one), provide more hands-on guidance for content owners.
“We’re building one of the most impressive music ecosystems online by providing technology, services, distribution, and monetization to help artists become more successful,” says Shahrzad Rafati, founder and CEO of BroadbandTV.
“Historically, artists have worked with talent managers and record labels to ensure their music is distributed and managed as successfully as possible. The market continues to evolve at an incredible rate and forward thinking artists such as Major Lazer understand that online video is the most important platform to engage with their fans — that’s where BroadbandTV comes in.”
Since BroadbandTV started working with Major Lazer in February, it has helped the group increase its viewership dramatically. Prior to the partnership, Major Lazer was generating 2.5 million views per month on YouTube; after the partnership, monthly views have now grown to 98 million and the group has been adding 2 million new views per day, according to BroadbandTV.
Naturally, it helps that the band has one of the most-viewed songs on YouTube right now. In fact, unsurprisingly Major Lazer’s most popular videos are for their most popular songs. “There’s a direct correlation between the success of the track and its YouTube viewership, the two go hand-in-hand,” admits Ali Adab, VP of content and partnerships at BroadbandTV.
But BroadbandTV’s work with Major Lazer has helped the group grab views beyond the super-successful official music video on their channel. For instance, “They have also adopted a strategy of releasing lyrics videos in a staggered schedule for each song on [their latest album, “Peace Is the Mission”], this has helped generate consistent traffic to the channel outside of their hit ‘Lean On,’” says Adab.
BroadbandTV has also claimed and monetized nearly 20,000 videos of Major Lazer content uploaded by fans. Combined, this has generated a significant additional revenue stream for the band. (BroadbandTV declined to provide specific revenue numbers.)
“It’s ultimately about providing the artist with an end-to-end solution, spanning monetization, distribution, video management, content creation, and optimization expertise to help them reach their objectives,” says Adab, on the value BroadbandTV provides to music labels and artists. “No two artists are the same so you have to absolutely tailor the approach for each.”
With Major Lazer, BroadbandTV started working with the band a few months before the release of “Peace Is the Mission” and their hit single. “We wanted to ensure that they were completely ready for success by fully optimizing their YouTube content and advising them on trends and best practices,” says Adab. “We’ve put Major Lazer back in control of the content and opened up new revenue streams for them. This ultimately gives them more insight to their fans, they know how their fans are listening to and sharing their content, which in turn helps them to produce more great content.”
Major Lazer has another album that it plans to release this year. Adab says BroadbandTV will employ the insights it gained from the “Peace Is the Mission” launch to ensure continued success for the band on YouTube.
What that could mean, at the moment, isn’t final. “All artists need to pay particular attention to what works for them and their fans, when are people viewing their content? Shorter or longer form content? Collaborations? Maybe an exclusive launch on YouTube?” says Adab.
“Video is the most engaging content format and YouTube is by far the number one video platform. Artists absolutely need a rock solid strategy in place to become more successful.”