What are YouTube Shorts?
Shorts is YouTube’s short-form, vertical video format.
As a YouTube user, of course, you can WATCH Shorts. But more to the point of this article, as an artist you can now CREATE YouTube Shorts that both deepen your connection with fans and channel subscribers, and reach beyond your audience through YouTube’s recommendation engine.
With YouTube Shorts, you can make clips that feature original audio, that use an existing song, or even pull in sampled audio snippets from millions of videos uploaded to YouTube.
How long do YouTube Shorts last?
Your YouTube Shorts can be up to 60 seconds long. The 60-second time limit encourages creators to get, well, creative, and force you to use every second to its fullest potential. Short-form videos lend themselves well to things like skits, confessionals, prank videos, dance-offs, and quick editing that begs a replay.
Unlike YouTube Stories, which expire after 7 days, Shorts are meant to last as evergreen content on YouTube.
Where do you watch YouTube Shorts?
Well, on YouTube! But more specifically…
YouTube Shorts are surfaced algorithmically via the “Shorts” tab at the bottom of your YouTube mobile app.
They can also be viewed on a specific channel’s homepage, as a featured section:
How YouTube Shorts is different from other short-form video platforms
So, why should musicians care about YouTube Shorts?
Firstly, because YouTube is already a video giant, and Shorts gives you another format that can drive engagement back to your longer channel content. Unlike TikTok, where the short-form video is commonly considered the WHOLE experience, Shorts can be an extension of your brand and community engagement efforts on YouTube. It’s one piece of a bigger ecosystem.
Also, as mentioned above, Shorts allow creators to use sampled audio from millions of videos uploaded to YouTube, as well as music from YouTube’s library. That means creators can make videos with your music!
YouTube Shorts’ library pulls from YouTube Music, which boasted 60 million songs as of August 2020 (it’s likely quite a bit more now). That’s just a touch under Spotify and Apple Music, which come in at 70 and 75 million, respectively. And of course, neither of those platforms offer short-form video creation.
Plus did we mention YouTube Music is the world’s most popular music streaming service, with 2 billion (yes, with a “b”) monthly users? All those users means tons of traffic coming to YouTube each month, which in turn means all those people can watch Shorts featuring your music!
How do I get my music in the YouTube Shorts library?
Since YouTube Shorts uses music from YouTube Music’s library, you only need to do one thing to make sure your music is eligible for placement in Short videos: distribute to YouTube Music.
CD Baby distributes to YouTube Music — and YouTube Shorts by proxy — along with over 150 other digital platforms. Sign up today and get your music on YouTube Shorts!
How do I create a YouTube Shorts video with my music?
YouTube created a helpful step-by-step guide to creating Shorts on their Help Center.
To create a Short video on YouTube and add your music to it:
- Sign in to YouTube on mobile.
- Tap “create” and then tap “Create a Short.”
- To make your Short longer than 15 seconds, tap 15 above the record button to record up to 60 seconds (60). (Note: Recording with music from the YouTube Shorts library or the original audio from other videos is limited to 15 seconds instead of 60.)
- (Optional) Tap “Speed” to speed up or slow down recording.
- (Optional) Tap “Timer” to set the countdown to record hands-free and choose when to automatically stop recording.
- To find YouTube’s Audio Library when you’re ready to record, tap “Add Sound”. Make a selection and then record up to 15 seconds.
- To record a clip, hold the “capture” button or tap it to start recording and then again to stop.
- Tap “undo” to remove the previous video clip you recorded or tap redo to add it back.
- Tap “done” to preview and enhance your video and then tap “NEXT” to add details to your video.
- To add a song or other audio after you record, tap “Sound” at the bottom of the edit screen.
- Add a title (max 100 characters) to your short video.
- Tap “UPLOAD” to finish.
How do I promote my music on YouTube Shorts?
Short-form videos are fertile ground for indie artists to promote their music. Whether you’re going the DIY route or hiring an influencer to expand your brand, creating videos on YouTube Shorts can seriously boost your fanbase.
The same principles for promoting your music on TikTok and other short-form video platforms apply to promoting your music on YouTube Shorts:
- Keep it light: Short videos are meant to be fun. Their brevity is what makes them so addictive, and what makes them conducive to replaying over and over again.
- Create a musical moment: When creating a Short with your song, make sure to select the hook for the audio. Find the 15 seconds within your song that will inspire people to come up with their own skits, tutorials, dances, or lip-sync videos.
- Think visual: Just like on TikTok, YouTube Shorts creators are creating trends and memes. You can either jump on the popularity of an existing trend, or if you’re feeling really ambitious, you can try to create a new meme of your own.
- Don’t ignore your back catalog: Be sure you’re thinking about your entire catalog in terms of what song contains the most catchy, viral audio snippet. Don’t just focus on your latest single. It might be a song from a few years ago that takes off.
- Be prolific: Like other short video platforms, YouTube Shorts enable you to create content more quickly compared to long-form media like normal YouTube videos. This creative speed also means you can post videos more often, which increases your visibility to fans.
What should I post on YouTube Shorts?
Like other short-form video platforms, what you actually post on YouTube Shorts is limited only by the extent of your own creativity.
There are many kinds of videos you can post to YouTube Shorts, including:
- Confessional-style video where you speak directly to the camera about something you’re passionate about
- Tutorials — like instrument lessons or maybe a production [link to production article] technique you use
- Lip syncs, to other artists’ music, or your own (remember you want to encourage participation and listeners to your songs)
- Dances, again to other artists’ songs or especially your own
- Mood music for a visual concept like a short music video or something that represents your music
Any of these video types will bring attention to your Official Artist Channel, and therefore your music.
Where are YouTube Shorts available?
YouTube debuted Shorts in India in 2020 and launched the beta in the U.S. in spring of 2021. Since then, they’ve made YouTube Shorts available in over 100 countries.
While YouTube hasn’t published a full list of every country in which Shorts is available, they suggest updating your app and looking for the “Create a Short” option. If you don’t see it yet chances are they’re working on adding your country.
Do artists earn royalties from YouTube Shorts?
If a creator uses your song in their YouTube Short video, you will receive some revenue from the placement. Since the platform is so new, the exact amount and timeline of that payment is still unknown. However, it’s important to note that since short-form videos don’t accommodate advertising, they don’t generate as much revenue as full-length videos.
The real money you’ll see from your music’s use in YouTube Shorts will result from viewers hearing your songs. YouTube Shorts are a great way to promote your music because anyone who plays a video with your song on it can easily see what song it is and then find it on their streaming service of choice.