Do you know what the biggest driver of traffic to your music video will be?

Bigger than any amount of ads you can buy.

Bigger than any press look.

Bigger than any playlist.

YouTube’s recommendation algorithm. As in, when YouTube recommends your video to others watching/listening to similar music.

YouTube is the world’s 2nd largest search engine, 85% of music listening is active, as in people are watching the videos not passively streaming in the background, according to YouTube

The recommendation engine is a powerful way to drive traffic long after release week, which increases discoverability of your project and audience size.

It’s essential you optimize your video for search and algorithmic recommendations. 

I’m a big fan of Darkside / Nicolas Jaar / Dave Harrington so my ears pricked up on Friday when their new single, ‘The Limit’, came out. Unsurprisingly, the track is fantastic however, they’ve made a few simple mistakes on YouTube that’ll limit its reach (pardon the p).

When a video is optimized properly, the YouTube recommendation algorithm drives people to the video via recommended videos and auto plays in playlists.

The sheer size of YouTube’s active user base means that when this is set up properly, the algorithm will send more traffic to your song than any promotion you can do on your own or ads you can buy.

But, when it is not optimized properly, YouTube will not recommend it as readily and therefore relies on you driving all the traffic.

How to get more views by optimizing your tracks perfectly.

DARKSIDE ‘The Limit’ YouTube Optimization Scorecard: 3/7 

❌ Descriptive title

❌ 31 – 40 video tags

❌ Detailed description

❌ End Cards

High-Res thumbnail 

Shared on socials


I’ll re-do DARKSIDE’s ‘The Limit’ upload to get a perfect run of 8.

Create a descriptive title

“The Limit” is too short and not descriptive enough to tell potential viewers what they’re about to watch. There’s no way to tell if it’s music related or anything to do with DARKSIDE / Nico Jar or Dave Harrington for fans. 

A better title is “DARKSIDE – The Limit (Official Audio)”

When considering the title follow these 3 rules: 

  1. Lead with what is the most recognizable element, i.e.: artist name, so people who know the artist will listen to the track.
  2. Describe the asset in parentheses, e.g.: (official audio), (official video), (lyric video) to people know it’s the real version
  3. Stick to consistent naming conventions across your channel so videos are easy to find

Include 31 – 40 video tags

Current video and channel tags show only 2. It’s widely held that 31-40 tags are a good rule with a combination of branded and unbranded terms. Source: ‘The Limit’ VidIQ, data pulled 4.12.2021

This video has only 2 tags, both are branded. The actual channel has no tags. There’s no golden rule however, it’s broadly accepted in SEO marketing that between 31 – 40 tags are advised for optimal discoverability.

Tags tell YouTube what your video is about so it can recommend your video to people watching similar content. 

For your video, you want a mix of branded keywords and unbranded. Your unbranded keywords should have a nice balance of medium-high search volume and low competition.

Said plainly – you want keywords where lots of people are searching for your video but not a lot of people are making videos like yours.

Instead I’d recommend the below 31 tags for DARKSIDE. These draw on the name recognition of Nicolas Jaar and Dave Harrington first, then broadening out to wider interest in electronic music as indicated by keyword search volume and competition.

Video tags:

  2. Nicolas Jaar
  3. Nico jaar
  4. DARKSIDE Nicolas Jaar
  5. DARKSIDE songs
  6. Nicolas Jaar songs
  7. Nicolas Jaar Twitch
  8. DARKSIDE best songs
  9. DARKSIDE clip
  10. The Limit
  11. The Limit video
  12. DARKSIDE The Limit
  13. The Limit song
  14. DARKSIDE 2021 
  15. DARKSIDE set 
  16. Nicolas Jaar set
  17. Nicolas Jaar 2021
  18. Dave Harrington
  19. Dave Harrington 2021
  20. DARKSIDE Dave Harrington
  21. Dave Harrington musician 
  22. Dave Harrington music 
  23. Ableton live
  24. Space is only noise
  25. Telas nicolas jaar
  26. Nicolas jaar full album 
  27. Wurlitzer electric piano
  28. Moma ps1
  29. Experimental music
  30. Electronic beats
  31. Pitchfork media

Channel tags: 

  1. Nicolas Jaar
  3. The Limit
  4. Beggars Group
  5. Matador Records


  1. Music 
  2. Electronic music
  3. Experimental music

Write a detailed description

Your description is one of the only areas you can control the messaging of your track on YouTube. It’s a prominent touchpoint to convey what you’re about to fans, as well as push promotional messages.

A good description includes: 

  • Credits
  • Links to other places viewers can find you, i.e.: social media, streaming, patreon, Twitch etc.
  • Quote from the artist about the song to encourage deeper connection with the viewer
  • CTA to your current promotion, e.g.: “buy tickets here”, “stream new album here”
  • Links to other music videos to encourage people down the rabbit hole 
  • 3 – 5 hashtags to increase discoverability

For example, the description of Petit Biscuit’s “Sunset Lover’ is an overview of main touchpoints a curious new viewer can dive into. Despite being released in 2017, it’s still updated for 2021 priorities.

Use end cards to push people further down the rabbit hole

End cards are a YouTube feature that appears in the last 15-20 secs of the video where users can promote other videos or playlists. You can promote up to 4 elements.

You’d use end cards to encourage people to stay on your channel by either watching another video, looking at a playlist or subscribing to your channel. Most artists don’t do this because you need to tap on an additional few seconds after the song has finished however, it is a powerful way to extend watch time on your channel. 

Great assets to include in your end card is: 

  1. Links to recognizable music videos, i.e.: your most popular songs to continue to snowball their views 
  2. Links to new videos you wish to promote 
  3. Alternative ways to enjoy your music, e.g.: if you have a music video then including a Boiler Room set would give viewers a way to stream a live mix
  4. CTA to subscribe 

Save this YouTube Optimization Checklist 

Before you upload your next music video, check yourself… Do I have….

  • Descriptive title
  • 31 – 40 video tags
  • Detailed description
  • End Cards
  • High-Res thumbnail 
  • End screens 
  • Shared on socials
  • Public

You’ve spent all this time making the music, writing, shooting, editing your video. Make sure you set it up properly at the final step on YouTube to maximize its potential for discoverability.