We all know music videos work on YouTube. But what about
channels about music? Well, those work, too.
In week two of our YouTube Original Channel
Tracker, The Warner Sound took the No. 1 spot with 9.13 million
views from seven new videos. They weren't alone among music
channels in the top 25; Noisey from Vice was No. 15 and Fuse was
The Warner Sound was officially launched in May by the Warner
Music Group, part of YouTube's original channels initiative. It's
an attempt by Warner to build a new media property with Google's
money and not to be confused with its existing channel, Warner
Music, which plays music videos and is YouTube's second-largest.
YouTube's largest channel is Vevo, a joint venture of the other
major labels, Sony, UMG and
We caught up with Mr. MacAdams to talk with him about The Warner
Sound and what he's learned getting a YouTube channel off the
Ad Age: Your background is in television, what
drew you to online content and made you come over to The Warner
Mr. MacAdams: When I took the job there were a
couple of things that made it really exciting. Number one was the
opportunity to work with the amazing artists that are on all the
various labels of the Warner Music Group. And also it's an amazing
executive team at Warner Music from Lyor Cohen on down. And then
the third thing was the opportunity to be part of this amazing
experiment that YouTube is doing. The Original Channels Project
that they're putting together is unprecedented, it's really
exciting, and everybody in the industry was talking about it. It
has been really exciting to be a part of it.
Ad Age: In your experience, what makes a really
engaging YouTube video?
Mr. MacAdams: I think first of all it has to
really grab you, immediately at the top. In traditional television,
you have a bit more time to grab the viewer by the lapel. Where I
think in web videos, if people aren't interested immediately
they're going to click away. So that's one thing. I think also it
still needs to be on the shorter end of things. We're certainly
seeing that people are watching longer and longer videos on the
web, but I still think that three to five minutes is your sweet
spot. And then I think [viewers have] got to get it relatively
quickly. You can be subtle, but the best stuff is the stuff you can
figure out immediately.
Ad Age: How many videos do you put up a
Mr. MacAdams: The goal is to put up a video a
day and we almost always do that. We often find ourselves putting
up multiple videos at a time because we are producing some great
stuff. But I think that it actually is possible to overload. We've
found that if you put up too much stuff there is too much video for
your subscribers to go through. So you want to find that sweet spot
between putting up enough so people are constantly engaging and
coming back, but at the same time not putting up too much so that
it just becomes this wall of video that nobody can dig through.
Ad Age: What have been the channel's biggest
learnings so far?
Mr. MacAdams: It's interesting. Some of the
things that happen, happen to you no matter where you produce,
whether it's for television, the web or mobile phones. In the end,
you don't get to decide what's great, your audience gets to decide
what's great. If it was a science, a computer could do it. You can
produce something that you think is fantastic and is going to do
great and it just bombs. And then you produce something that you
think is great, it's cool, but you don't expect too much out of it,
and then all of a sudden it just takes off like a rocket. The goal
is to try to get as many of those as you can, so you can begin to
see a pattern and begin to learn.
And that's exactly what's happening. It's still pretty early,
but we're beginning to learn a few lessons about how long something
can be and the kind of tone that we go for. I think one of the
things that we found is that our tone is "pop-y." We go for a bit
more of a happy, pop-y tone than I think some channels might. I
think that's our vibe and we've certainly seen our audience respond
Ad Age: It looks like you're getting some
traction for "The Walk" and "The Live Room." Are there any series
that surprised you?
Mr. MacAdams: The Live Room has been a huge
success. I thought it would do well, but I didn't think it would do
as well as it has done. Going into it, I thought it would do well
because there is so much artist performance music on YouTube. If
you search an artist you can find so much live performance video of
them, though, so I didn't know how "The Live Room" would do. But
the people who film this for us they've made it so beautiful...and
intimate...and we're seeing that a lot of artists want to do it
now. And we've got some really exciting ones coming down the pipe.
I've been really happy with the performance of that series.
Ad Age: Did you learn anything from the YouTube
veterans on how to serve and interact with your audience?
Mr. MacAdams: We didn't want to create a vibe
when the channel launched that was like, "OK, now here are the
professionals to show you guys how to do it." There have been a lot
of great people doing a lot of fantastic stuff on YouTube for a
long time. One of the constants that you see from folks that have
trail blazed this world was that they really care about their
audience, and interact with their audience in a way that you
couldn't do in traditional television. So we really wanted to make
sure that was something that we were doing.
That's really why we have our hosts. We have two fantastic hosts
in Los Angeles, Erin Lucas and Krystal Bee, and they really act as
curators for the channel. They respond to the audience, they'll
have Instagram contests, they'll do giveaways of stuff...They also
make sure that we're everywhere our audience is. [The hosts] are on
YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, they're constantly putting up photos on
Instagram. They try to make sure that The Warner Sound is
everywhere it can possibly be.