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How to Promote Music with YouTube Shorts in 2024: A Guide

Photo by Gordon Cowie / Unsplash
Editor's note: This story is brought to you in partnership with AI Video Cut.

YouTube, a platform that has long been a cornerstone for artists to share music and build a fanbase, long before streaming services took over the industry, introduced a powerful new tool in 2021: YouTube Shorts. This short-form video feature has become increasingly popular, leveraging the success of platforms like TikTok and Instagram Reels. With the rise of bite-sized content, YouTube Shorts have become a valuable opportunity for musicians to showcase their talent, engage with a broad audience, and drive attention to their music. Here’s how you can effectively use YouTube Shorts to promote your music.

Even though TikTok, another short video sharing platform, is usually crowned as the top music discovery platform (which isn't entirely true), YouTube and its Shorts remain a place that musicians, especially aspiring ones, shouldn't disregard.

What are YouTube Shorts?

YouTube Shorts are vertical videos up to 60 seconds long, designed to capture and maintain viewer attention in an era where endless content competes for our limited focus. These Shorts have their own dedicated section in the YouTube app, making it easy for users to discover new content and channels.

Shorts, just like TikToks and Reels, are a great medium for music discovery. A song featured in a viral Short can receive a nice boost on music-streaming platforms because often, we find ourselves listening to music without even intending to, thanks to these engaging short clips, so this discovery is natural and organic.

YouTube Shorts come equipped with a variety of creative tools and features to enhance your videos. Users can add songs, apply filters and effects, and use options like speed controls and timers. The vertical format of Shorts is optimized for mobile viewing, making it easy for artists to create videos directly on their phones.

Why musicians should at least consider YouTube Shorts when promoting music

Here are some out-of-context stats related to short video content:

  • The top 1,000 songs used in YouTube Shorts saw over 280 billion combined views in January 2023 alone.
  • Fan-created Shorts increased the average music artist's audience of unique viewers by more than 80% in January 2023, according to the same report.
  • Artists who were active on Shorts (posting weekly) saw over 50% of their new channel subscribers come from Shorts in January 2023.
  • YouTube has a feature called "Sounds on Shorts" that allows viewers to discover the music used in Shorts and add those tracks to a playlist for later listening.
  • 60% of short-form videos are watched for 41% to 80% of their length.
  • Short-form videos receive 2.5 times more engagement than long-form videos.
  • Nearly a third (30%) of all short-form videos are watched 81% of the way through.

That's quite something.

Reason #1. Massive viewership

YouTube Shorts has over 1.5 billion monthly logged-in users. According to YouTube's head of music, Lyor Cohen, "In January 2023, fan-created Shorts increased the average artist’s audience of unique viewers by more than 80%". This level of exposure is unparalleled. Besides, according to YouTube itself, more than 1.5 billion monthly logged-in YouTube users are watching Shorts.

Reason #2. Platform prioritization

YouTube is prioritizing Shorts to compete with TikTok, ensuring these videos get significant visibility. The algorithm for Shorts can efficiently gain new fans, listeners, and subscribers, so it's a powerful tool in your music promotion strategy.

“Shorts are nearly doubling an artist’s total reach, so artists can spend more time doing what they do best: making great music,” Lyor Cohen says.

Reason #3. Monetization opportunities

YouTube has always provided monetization options for creators, and Shorts are no different. Artists earn revenue every time their music is used in Shorts, and the potential for payouts exists with high engagement. Revenue streams come from music licensing fees and creator pool fees.

Reason #4. Integrated ecosystem

Shorts are part of the larger YouTube and YouTube Music ecosystems. This means users can easily discover an artist’s entire catalog, from music videos to live performances—thus being a proper promotional platform. While TikTok isn't directly linked to other platforms or music streaming services (even though it allows you to add songs directly to a music streaming app), YouTube Shorts is fully integrated with the broader YouTube ecosystem, including and YouTube Music.

“[Shorts] are the entry point, leading fans to discover the depth of an artist’s catalog, including music videos, interviews, live performances, lyric videos, and more,” says Lyor Cohen, the global head of Music for YouTube and Google, in his public letter.

How to use YouTube Shorts for music promotion

Unlike longer videos, the content that works for Shorts needs to be immediate and engaging. Shorts are perfect for creating teasers and previews of upcoming music releases, showcasing snippets of live/acoustic performances, or participating in trending challenges. Your primary goal is to grab the viewer's attention within the first three seconds to entice them to visit your channel and subscribe.

Upload Shorts consistently, and it'll be rewarded with a community and fans who listen to your music online or watch your full videos. Today, there's a crossover between social networks and music streaming services, so maintaining a strong presence across multiple platforms might be super beneficial for you.

Ensure your music is available on YouTube Music

The first step to promoting your music on Shorts is making sure your tracks are available on YouTube Music. Most digital distributors like TuneCore and CD Baby will automatically distribute your music to YouTube.

Create engaging Short videos

  • Share snippets of upcoming releases or behind-the-scenes footage from the recording studio.
  • Post highlights from live shows or acoustic sessions to give fans a taste of your live sound.
  • Participate in trending challenges or create your own, encouraging fans to engage with your music.
  • Upload your TikTok and Reels.
  • You can even create music-related meme content and add your song in the background (we'll later show you how).

Get other creators use your tracks in YouTube Shorts

Collaboration is often a way to expand your reach, so you can work with pro dancers to start a dance challenge using your song as the soundtrack. This cross-promotion can introduce your music to new audiences.

Besides, you can create a fan-generated content campaign (UGC challenge of sorts). Just ask your fans to record a video of themselves doing something with your song looped over the top. To motivate that, offer your fans a prize for the best videos, like gig tickets or signed merch.

Be active on YouTube

Promoting your music directly isn't the only way to use YouTube Shorts. You can also use the platform to engage with your audience and share various types of content. Think of it as an opportunity to grow your audience, similar to how you would use any other social platform. For instance, you can upload cover songs, vlogs, how-to stuff, or simply share your music in longer formats, not just Shorts.

Optimize your Shorts

Choose high-quality, eye-catching thumbnails to attract viewers and use relevant keywords and hashtags to improve discoverability.

How YouTube Shorts are monetized

Musicians can monetize their Shorts in two primary ways:

1. Ad revenue from your music
When other creators use your music in their Shorts, 50% of the ad revenue generated goes to the music rights holders.

2. Ad revenue as a creator
If you’re part of the YouTube Partner Program, you can monetize your Shorts directly. Creators typically earn between $0.04 to $0.06 per 1,000 views.

How to upload music to YouTube Shorts

There are two main ways to add sounds to YouTube Shorts:

  1. You can sample sounds from already existing videos.
  2. Use songs from the YouTube Music library. To make your own music available in the YouTube Music library, you need to distribute it on YouTube Music (we mentioned that above).

Steps to upload your track to YouTube Music

  1. Open your browser and go to YouTube Music.
  2. Click on your profile photo in the upper right corner.
  3. Select "Upload music" from the drop-down menu.
  4. Choose one or several tracks from the opened window, then click "Open".
  5. Wait for your music to be processed.
  6. Once the upload is complete, you can find your songs by navigating to Library > Songs, and then selecting "Uploads" from the dropdown menu.
Note: You do not need a YouTube Premium subscription to upload your music to the platform!

How to upload your music to YouTube Shorts

  1. Launch the mobile YouTube app.
  2. Tap the plus icon at the bottom of the screen and select "Create a Short."
  3. Tap '15' at the top right corner to choose the length of your Short, up to 60 seconds.
  4. Optional Settings:
  • Tap "Speed" to slow down or speed up the recording.
  • Tap "Timer" to set a countdown for hands-free recording and to automatically start recording.

5. Tap "Add Sound" at the top of the screen, search for your song, then tap the arrow next to it.

6. Tap and hold the recording button to capture your video.

7. Enter a title for your Short (up to 100 characters).

8. Click "Upload" to finish and share your Short.

Bonus: How to create YouTube Shorts from existing (music) videos

What if you already have a long clip or a music video and want to simply repurpose it to YouTube Shorts, TikTok, and Reels? It's 2024 after all, so there's definitely AI for that. AI Video Cut is an online solution that can quickly create YouTube Shorts from an any video using OpenAI technology, without the need for manual editing.

There are two types of short videos currently available: Trailers and Topics-clips.

Video Trailer

Select this format if you want to showcase the most engaging and vital parts of your video in YouTube Shorts. Here are the steps you should take to make one:

  1. Visit the AI Video Cut website.
  2. Insert the YouTube video link into the special field.
Source: AI Video Cut

3. Choose “Trailer” in the Video type section.

4. Select the duration (Short – max 7 quotes/ Medium – max 15 quotes/ Long – max 25 quotes).

5. Click “Submit”.

6. Wait until the video is made and then download it directly from the website.

At this point, you can watch the video to decide if you need to restart the process.

Tip: AI Video Cut also creates a transcript of a YouTube video which you can use as captions for your Shorts to cater to hard-of-hearing, deaf people, or those who can’t easily understand oral speech.
Source: AI Video Cut


Select this format if you want to create several YouTube Shorts at once and highlight specific ideas of your main video in several short thematic clips. AI Video Cut automatically detects these ideas and creates multiple videos with the most interesting and engaging content.

You can also opt for this format instead of Trailer if you wish to get the most of your main video and repurpose different chunks of it across multiple channels. Especially if your original video is too long and touches on different topics.

  1. Visit the AI Video Cut website.
  2. Put the video link into the special field.
  3. Select the video type “Topics-clips”.
  4. Pick the duration (Short – max 7 quotes/ Medium – max 15 quotes/ Long – max 25 quotes).
Source: AI Video Cut

5. Choose the number of topics (from 1 up to 10).

6. Click “Submit”.

7. Wait until the video is processed, then download one or several suggested videos directly from the website or using the links you receive in your email.

Source: AI Video Cut

You will then receive one or several videos (depending on how many topics you’ve chosen), each focused on a different topic featured in the original video.