Sometimes I find myself asking: “What did people do before the internet?” I certainly remember a time before my family had it at home. I remember running the computer in DOS mode and biding my free time playing solitaire and minesweeper.

Before the web, home movies were only shown to family members and the odd guest who politely agreed to watch your shaky holiday footage much to his or her chagrin. These videos were not plastered all over the internet for billions of strangers to see.

The internet and web video have revolutionized the way a lot of people market themselves. The homemade aspect is ever-present online but many people have become increasingly adept at creating slick content. This ease of creating and circulating video content has had a profound affect on many musicians. Illegal downloading and the Napster vs. Metallica scandal aside,  I would like to look at a few ways that the internet and web video have had a positive impact on musicians.

The platforms: YouTube and Vimeo

I talk about YouTube so much on this blog that I’m not really doing any favours to the more homegrown, less-corporate video sites. My apologies to those sites! Believe me, I’d like to damn the man just as much as the next person, but being someone who makes videos myself, I have to acknowledge that the heavy-hitting sites really are the best venues to get those creations out there. Let’s look at those heavy-hitters.

YouTube was created in February 2005 by former Paypal employees.  By December 2005, there were eight million videos watched a day. By May 2010, YouTube exceeded two billion views a day. Today, 72 hours of video are being uploaded to YouTube every minute. (I bet those former Paypal guys are guzzling Patrón while racing their yachts against Mark Zuckerberg’s right now.)

Vimeo is another well-established and heavily-used site. Created (before YouTube!) in 2004 by by a group of filmmakers in Manhattan who wanted to share their creative work and personal moments from their lives, Vimeo is a popular video sharing website that is largely characterized by content created and uploaded by artists, musicians and indie filmmakers who want to share their creative work. While Vimeo does not touch YouTube status in terms of sheer quantity of content, there still are over 16,000 videos uploaded daily. Many would argue that Vimeo is more of a “quality over quantity” site whereas Youtube could sometimes be viewed as the opposite. According to ReelSEO, the main difference between Vimeo and other video sharing sites such as YouTube is that focuses on user-generated videos, of a friend and family nature. In other words, Vimeo is not the corporate stooge that YouTube is.

Personally, I find the Vimeo player to be much more attractive than the YouTube one. But rather than choose one over the other, I would choose to use both as many artists do. Which brings us back to those musicians.

Most well-established musical artists have a Vimeo page ran by their web team. Other burgeoning musicians may try YouTube first as a way of ensuring mass circulation of their opuses. Let’s look at a few case studies:

3 Artists who hit the big time on YouTube

Here are three famous–or infamous, if you will- musical Youtube sensations:

1. Justin Bieber

Say what you will about this young pup, there is no denying that he has found a place in our collective consciousness. Being discovered on Youtube in 2008 literally put Bieber on the fast track to superstardom. Rapper Usher and pop singer Justin Timberlake even battled it out over who got to sign the boy. In the end, Usher won out and stadiums full of braces-clad ‘Beliebers’ were born.

2. Walk off the Earth

I was watching Weeds at a friend’s house and during the beginning song she asked “Have you seen the cover video for this on Youtube with all the cardboard boxes?” She was, of course, referring to the song “Little Boxes,” a Pete Seeger hit from 1963 covered by Burlington, Ontario band Walk off the Earth. This talented team  built up a following prior to their Youtube career, but their quirky and impressive videos really expanded their fan-base. Most of their videos are shot in only one take. Fellow musicians Gotye and Kimbra praised the band for their cover of “Somebody That I Used To Know.”

3. Karmin

I first saw these guys on Saturday Night Live and was less than impressed with the performance, but you have to hand it to them–this engaged couple who met at Berklee College of Music in Boston really knew how to market themselves. A blend of Youtube videos, Reddit discussions and appearances on the Ellen DeGeneres Show brought this duo into the public eye. Walk into your average North American mall and you’re bound to hear Karmin coming through the airwaves.

Discover more Youtube stars here.

Follow in their footsteps

I’ve told you what you need to get your YouTube career started. I’ve given you some ideas on what trends are popular and what kind-of video content works in the real world. If you are a budding artist–be it musician, fine-artist, dancer, photographer, etc…– add “budding fimmaker” to your repertoire and market yourself through web video. Harness that inner Biebs! I’ll end this post with this helpful link on how to maximize your YouTube presence. Ready, set, go!

***Youtube and Vimeo information was found on their corporate ‘About’ pages.