We live in an era where it seems people are constantly chasing the shiny light.
Yesterday it was memes, then it was GIFs, and today it’s video.
But one thing you’ll notice about the trends that have had the viral air to them is that they’re all visual.
Because a glance is all people tend to offer nowadays, videos, pictures, and graphics are now the most relied upon ways to grab attention. Audio, on the other hand, has struggled to break through.
Unlike visual mediums, audio requires its audience to stop and listen. And, when people have a million other things vying for their attention, the proposition of sitting and listening, isn’t that attractive.
Two Envato authors are trying to figure out what to do instead.
About two years ago, AudioJungle creator TitanSlayer decided to focus on making his YouTube channel grow. With its built-in audience and the fact that it’s the second biggest search engine in the world next to Google, he saw a lot of potential in making this happen. He began uploading some of his stock music tracks, under simple, theme-related still images.
Yet, he reconsidered the approach after asking whether it was the best route to take. “I wasn’t sure it was the best way to represent my items,” he shares with me. “…and I also wanted them to look professional. So, I needed something bigger and better for my channel.”
He arrived at the concept of using a visualizer (think iTunes or Windows Media Player circa 2001). After seeing other music artists use this method, and finding it engaging, he decided to give it a try.
His first impulse was to build one from scratch, but it quickly proved too laborious a task. “It was kind of complicated, and time-consuming because I was not really familiar with After Effects,” he says. So, he went for a simpler solution: using a template by VideoHive creator, Kosmos.
Audio Spectrum Music Visualizer immediately took his video to another level by visually matching the mood of his track. TitanSlayer also found the template easy to use. “He [Kosmos] did a great job, as he included such elements as bands, spikes, timecodes and more.”
Soon he started seeing better engagement on the YouTube version of the video and started creating more of them. The visualizer videos also did well on Facebook. They drove up his engagement significantly compared to the static text posts that had populated his page before.
The lesson: “You have to hold listener attention as much as you can,” says the author. “…and visualization is an excellent way to do so.”
Elsewhere on YouTube, millions of views were flowing into a channel that was, similarly, made up of stock music tracks from an AudioJungle.
MorningLightMusic made quite the impression with his video for Upbeat Ukulele, which used stock footage that matched the vibe of his music. “[It]seemed to gain traction by popping up on the sidebar as a ‘suggested video’ off other videos promoting background music,” he tells me.
The traction it gained resulted in a view count exceeding 1.3 million on the video platform. So, why did it succeed?
The answer might seem a little boring. Step 1, according to the author, is that the track needs to be good. You also need to title and tag it appropriately so it aligns with what people are searching for. This gives you the best chance of being found by the right audience and being associated with other related videos.
But more than that – even if you make it to the sidebar suggestions on a popular video – you need to grab people’s attention. The key to which is an effective thumbnail. “Good thumbnails are a must,” the author says. “They make you stand out from the other slew of videos in that column.”
It also helps when a channel with a big audience (exceeding 1 million subscribers) uses your song and starts sending traffic your video’s way. “I’ve had a handful of big YouTubers use my music,” MorningLightMusic tells me, “…which helped give some of my videos a boost.”
When I ask him why some of his videos are still sitting on smaller numbers of views, he reminds me that there are a lot of variables to consider. “Sometimes the song isn’t as great, or as universally appealing to YouTubers, so it doesn’t get the traffic from searches or shares…Sometimes you just hit that sweet spot of a really good thumbnail, great tags, and a great song.”
He’s also right to remind me that the videos that haven’t done as well are still sitting on around 200-400 thousand views, and will most likely hit 1 million sometime in the next year.
These two authors have had a go outside audio-centric platforms to give their work the exposure it deserves. However, this shouldn’t come as a big surprise.
“The very essence of [background] audio is to be in the ‘background’ to something more stimulating,” says MorningLightMusic. “So, trying to get an audience engaged by [that] audio [alone]…is a challenge.” Footage of an inspiring sunset on top of inspiring music is going to do a better job of inspiring its audience than the music in isolation. It’s naturally more compelling.
Yet, what TitanSlayer and MorningLightMusic’s two methods of employing video show us is that the more imperative thing to do is before you even make your track, is find out who wants it and where they live.
Because these authors primarily make music designed to accompany the video, it makes sense to use that very medium to show off their work.
Video creators, after all, live on video platforms like YouTube. Therefore the best way to capture their attention is to define what they’re looking for, down to the words they use to search for it and marry each of your tracks to something that visually shows off its potential.
These two authors aren’t just jumping on video platforms because YouTube is a trend. They’ve simply identified that that’s where their audience lives. And the strategy is beginning to work.