This week we’re joined by YouTube’s Head of Independent Music Business Development & Partnerships, Eduard Castelló, who provides some valuable insights into how YouTube engages with the independent music community.
How do you work with artists/labels and their releases?
Our team is in daily communication with artists and their representatives, on both the label and management side, learning about priority releases, identifying how we can support artists both on and off platform, and equipping them with the skills and knowledge to get the most out of YouTube.
YouTube is a place where artists are empowered to be the architects of their own success, and our platform is always developing, often launching new features with artists’ needs in mind. So we spend a lot of time educating the industry on how to get the most out of the platform – from how to warm-up your channel ahead of a new single release, to connecting with fans from your home using our livestream tools. We update teams on best practices, host YouTube masterclass sessions, and share news around new product launches.
We also work with artist teams supporting their priority releases through the various levers available to us – playlist programming on YouTube Music, virtual and physical event support, socials, billboards, and more.
What does a typical day look like in your job?
YouTube is one the most democratic music platforms within the business, helping artists around the world build and grow their audiences and fan bases globally. The diversity of music partners within the independent sector we deal with on a regular basis – from labels, distributors, management companies or artists who run their own business – often means my days are incredibly different from one another. I spend a lot of time with them, explaining how YouTube’s platform and partnerships foster growth and create opportunities for independent artists across the globe. Different players want to focus on different topics but we often spend a good deal of time diving into how our ads and subscription businesses provide a twin engine to grow on YouTube.
The independent music community is thriving on YouTube and our indie partners are leaning in more than ever: from regular music video uploads and an increasing number of live stream activations during the pandemic to coming on board for exciting launches such as Shorts. Indie partners test our products early and demonstrate their success, making YouTube a key launch partner for their releases. To ensure this continues to happen as we innovate with new products and features, my team works on ensuring our licensing agreements are always up to date ready to include independent music in every product launch.
What’s the biggest misconception about what you do?
Not necessarily a misconception but a large part of what I do that perhaps is less obvious is spending lengthy time with a wide range of product and engineering teams on a regular basis to ensure they understand how unique and heterogeneous the independent music community is and design products accordingly. We are lucky to have many indie music lovers across the ranks at YouTube but in order for our products to work for both a small label in London and an unsigned artist in Nigeria alike we need to constantly collaborate with product managers, user researchers and engineers ensuring they have all the context and use cases from Radiohead to Tkay Maidza.
Once we have defined the products and features we want to build in the upcoming months or years we set a licensing strategy to seek any necessary additional rights from rights holders involved. We then reach out to hundreds of partners worldwide and get them on board to the latest changes.
If I’m an artist or manager, what can I do to get the most out of your area of work?
Most artists and managers engage with YouTube via their Official Artist Channels (OAC) which bring together all artist content into one place regardless whether it is audio or video and how it was delivered. The channel automatically programs each artist’s music catalogue on two shelves, including your music videos, songs and albums. OACs provide artists with a single access point to upload content, go live, understand their presence on the platform (via Artist Analytics) or sell tickets and merchandising.
We also have a portal specifically for artists on YouTube – Artists.YouTube.com, where there’s training and educational resources, insights & charts, updates and news. I’d recommend artists and managers taking a look there to get the latest and greatest on YouTube.