For that, you'll need to define your content properly from the outset.
Optimise your videos for easier discovery while you upload them.
Title – While writing the title of the video, you should start with the artist's name, followed by the name of the song and then the album title. By placing highly searched terms in order of relevance, you will make sure that the video is easily discoverable.
Tags – When you are defining 'keywords' as tags, you should use both general and specific ones so that it leads people who are searching with both types of terms, to your video.
Description – The description you write for your video on YouTube contains a fold (“Show More”). You should always place a Call To Action (CTA), such as a call to subscribe to your channel or like your video on top of this fold so that it is visible at the first sight. You should include terms which are susceptible to be searched here – be it the lyrics from the song or the band's or band members' names. You can also include important dates and venue here such as for the release of the album, events or concerts. Adding links to digital stores or social media accounts also works well here.
Thumbnails – The thumbnail of your video is also aesthetically important. It shows up in search results for your video and attracts clicks. To make sure it appeals to the viewers, you should ensure that it represents some unique aspect of the video (artist, band name, any object that represents the subject) and is compelling. You should use high contrast close-up images as often as possible and ensure that the critical elements of the thumbnail are visible even when it is viewed as a small image.
Set up your channel layout for efficient management.
You can choose to use a multi-channel or a single-channel layout, depending on the type of your content. Usually independent artists and beginners in the industry prefer going with a single-channel layout as it can be easy for the artists to manage and for the fans to find all the content in one place.
Besides your music video there will be other content you can use that will be important to show on your channel, e.g., Trailers, Teasers, Behind the Scene Videos, Interviews, Lyric Videos, etc. You should make sure that you:
Place links in its description that lead to the related main video and social media accounts. You may also include links to listen on Sound Cloud, pre-order copies, release date etc. along with a proper CTA.
Optimise your channel's landing page properly so that your best videos are featured first.
Auto promote yourself with your own videos.
YouTube offers you an unique opportunity to automatically promote your videos with your own content. You can use annotations and links in your most popular videos (the ones which have the most traffic at that time) to promote your new videos – an album or a song release. You can also post new videos as video responses to older more popular videos to drive traffic to the new videos.
You should also include an end screen in all your videos to tell fans to 'Like', 'Favourite', 'Share' or 'Subscribe' so that you can effectively use social media channels to promote your video. You can also use your own social media accounts (like your Facebook Page or Twitter Handle) to spread the word.
You can also hijack some viewers by adding other artists' video content in your playlists and channel feed so that their audience also connects with you. By doing this, you can increase your visibility on YouTube. Similarly, you can promote other channels with the 'Other Channel and Friends' module on your landing page and get your own videos promoted in turn.
Engage your fans better with proper analysis.
YouTube's Analytics provides you with deep insights into your viewers habits. You can look at peak traffic hours and check to see if there is any recurrence in the time of the day or day of the week when traffic is at it's peak. You can also see where your traffic is mainly coming from, is there any specific website or blog which brings in more traffic to your videos compared to others? If that's true, you can even partner with that website!
You can even use demographics to determine where you should hold live events or add subtitles if you are getting international viewers!
You will also have an opportunity to engage your fans with video 'shout-outs', exclusive announcements and by co-creating with them. Holding regular Q&A sessions (weekly or monthly) for your fans and giving away exclusive goodies is a good way to capture their interest.
Plan for your content's release frequency.
Even though you are not creating a music video every other week, it is still important to keep your fans engaged at all times. You can be creative to engage your audiences to create additional content like remixes, tutorials, video blogs, user response videos, B-sides, tour footage and even live performance videos when your band plays.
You should keep your channel's feed active and buzzing with content fillers to keep your fans interested. Remember that every interaction with the user counts, you can create playlists, share videos, like other videos, etc. to display new content on your landing page.
Increase your viewers' watch time.
In order to create more dedicated and engaging viewing/listening sessions, you can:
Organise your videos in playlists according to themes (greatest hits, album, mix-tape, genre, mood, etc.).
Use external content in your channel playlists to extend your reach and strengthen partnerships with similar channels while keeping your viewers stimulated.
Feature user remixes, mash-ups, covers – content that users will be happy to see and co-create.
You can also upload long concert footage or albums; divide them in several smaller videos and include a link to the full-length version in their description. You may even use time-coded annotations in longer videos. Remember, the harder you work for your fans to have a quality viewing experience, the longer they will stay on your channel.
Collaborate with other artists to cross promote your videos.
As we had mentioned earlier, collaborating with other artists and cross promoting videos can significantly increase your viewership. You can invite other artists, or appear as a guest on someone else's channel. Also, you can create content for other non-musical channels like Theme songs, Intro songs, etc. with proper credits and a link back to your page. As usual, include a direct call to action in all your collaborations.
If you follow these basic principles on YouTube, you will slowly but surely build up a good viewer base for your channel and videos.
Shubhit S., @Epik Music Videos 2014