YouTube is the platform with something for everybody. Whether you’re into gaming and tech, fashion and make-up, or those weird ASMR videos that I don’t quite understand, the video-sharing site has content to offer. Music videos are among the most popular on the platform. 2017’s hit ‘Despacito’ is the most viewed YouTube video to date, with over 6.5 billion views. Some artists, who have made it big via traditional methods such as busking, slowly playing larger and larger venues, and having a track played on the radio, use YouTube as just another platform to reach their millions of fans. For other artists, YouTube can be used to kickstart their whole musical career. Earlier this year, YouTube was listed as having two billion individual users, meaning that there is almost unlimited scope for musicians to find those who enjoy their art, no matter how niche.
Some artists who have sprung into the mainstream from the internet have done so from their musical talent alone. One example of this is Maisie Peters. The 19-year-old began posting original songs on her self-titled channel four years ago, which have gathered hundreds of thousands of views over time. It’s not quite clear how Maisie made the jump from YouTube to the radio, but she currently boasts over four million monthly Spotify listeners, two EPs, and a tour with Tom Walker. She recently found a new following after her track ‘Feels Like This’ was featured on the 2019 series of Love Island. Another way of improving the engagement on your musical YouTube channel is by posting other content, which increases the likelihood of viewers finding you relatable and becoming more invested in your music. One example of this is Lindsey Stirling, a dubstep violinist. Lindsey has been posting on YouTube since 2007, and despite taking a huge setback from the TV show America’s Got Talent, has made a home for herself on the web, becoming a huge sensation. She has over 12 million subscribers of her YouTube channel, and shares the process of being her own manager, choreographer, video director, and editor, all while creating consistently outstanding music. Despite her success and sell-out tours, YouTube continues to be the platform where she shares her announcements and new music.
Perhaps the UK’s greatest example of YouTube musical success is ‘dodie’, originally known on the platform as doddleoddle. Dodie began posting on the platform as a teenager, separating her musical and personal content onto two individual channels. Her openness online has gained her an enormous base of loyal fans, and she has done valuable work in making a safe space for the young LGBT+ community, and harbouring discussions on mental health. However, with Dodie, we can see what may go wrong when an internet artist breaks into the ‘mainstream’. Due to Dodie’s personal content, it has been difficult to identify the boundaries between herself and her fans when she does events such as tours. She has previously had to limit or avoid events such as meet and greets due to huge demand from fans. When you out so much of yourself online and then gain a large audience, many people feel that they have a personal connection to you which can become overwhelming.
I think that in the present day the internet and the mainstream have become synonymous. Young people are increasingly using the web to seek out artists that click with them, which becomes easier to do as the market develops what it has to offer. I think that I now use my Spotify account more frequently for discovering new music, but still turn to YouTube for that personal touch of learning more about the industry and the process of the artists that I admire.