TopSpin Media – A YouTube Viral Video Case Study

TopSpin - Music Marketing

I’ve recently discovered a service designed for the independent, self-published musician. It’s called TopSpin and aims to help artists grow thier email lists quickly through the use of “Download Anywhere” widgets that allow a user to download your music in exchange for thier email address. These widgets can be placed anywhere online and even work on mobile devices. Brilliant? I think so!

Below is an excerpt from a recent blog post I found at TopSpin. In it, the author provides us with a case study of a band who had a YouTube video go viral and the steps they took to turn those video views into email list subscribers (and customers).


The series of Van Session videos had received tens of thousands of views, but at this point, none as many as the I Can’t Go For That cover. From March 23 to April 2, 11 days, while NB&G’s H & O’s cover video was “going viral — collecting some 400K views,” its YouTube description matched many of the other Van Session videos, including general links to the bands website, links to social media, and a link to the band’s existing albums on iTunes, but nothing specific to the cover in the video.

Michele: On March 26 – when we realized the video had legs, so to speak – we began the YouTube channel monetization process, which included becoming a YouTube partner as well as submitting the fingerprint audio for the video. Becoming a YouTube partner gave us the ability to have a store enabled INSIDE our channel, as well as installing a clickable banner with an Email for Media (E4M) widget in that banner. We used the Topspin Labs Download Anywhere TWICE: once, so a lightbox opens on top of the channel with the download offer, then a second time after the recipient receives the email and is asked to “Confirm and Download”. When you become a YT partner, follow the instructions in this post to set yourself up! Click the pic to see our channel’s example:

Michele: By using a trackable link in the banner, we were able to observe its traffic. Relative to the volume of view counts on the video pages, it appears the Channel page is not where viewers are hanging out. We wonder if there could be a bigger opportunity with a clickable area controlled by the channel on the video pages to yield a greater conversion.

For the video descriptions, we added the routes where the band was driving to and from, to personalize the videos.


Alex: About a week after that one video began to increase its views, Team NB&Gs added some new links in the descriptions of all the Youtube videos. Trackable links — using a great URL shortening services called — allows them to see when people clicked and went to web sites that are not their own website — like Facebook, iTunes, etc, so they could see how effective their efforts were.

Alex: On April 2, a new trackable link was added to the I Can’t Go For That cover which provided a free download of the mp3 song in the video, in exchange for subscribing to the band’s email list. This pop-up “widget” provided thru Topspin appeared over the video itself, not requiring the fans to leave the video just to add their email and download the song.

Michele: Nicki’s husband and producer Tim Bluhm was cleaning up the 1-mic iPhone audio content while we were researching mechanical licenses to stay compliant with the cover song liabilities. Rightsflow was our solution. By this point, we were clear we needed to be strategic about branding Nicki’s original music alongside the cover song/s. We were also seeing a huge demand for downloads of the Van Session cover songs by way of YouTube comments, but were hesitant to release such low-quality recordings, especially if this was most people’s first time hearing the band.

Nicki’s 2011 release Driftwood reached #3 on iTunes Singer Songwriter chart, #36 on Billboard Heatseekers and #17 on Billboard’s Folk chart, as a result of making her originals a priority this month. And after a cost analysis ($0.091 per download), we decided it was worth giving away the low-fi H&O audio in exchange for an email address and we purchased the song clearances. The Download Anywhere modal pop-up that was used to collect emails has proven very effective. Fewer hoops means more emails collected and Team NB&Gs was able to increase our list by 200% in a short amount of time. Screenshot of E4M overtop the YT video below:

Alex: Since April 2, you can see the band’s click stats to the free mp3 download link here. As of 4/4/2012, there were about 3500 clicks to download the song for free. If all the people (not likely, but let’s suppose) who clicked the link actually downloaded (something that isn’t public, but the band would be able to see in their Topspin backend), that’s some 3500 names on their mailing list. Many may not be new, as surely some existing fans were signed up to the mailing list. They’d also know what subscribers as a result from this video were new from their Topspin data.

Michele: Still less than 3 weeks young, and around 400k views later, that trackable link now has over 9,100 clicks — from 76 countries! And while not all 9,100 have indeed gotten the free download (just barely less than half), we do know that the number of our unique email addresses collected from the download offer more than doubled the mailing list prior to the video upload. See for yourself what all the fuss is about by getting the download below!

Alex: From April 2 to today (post was written April 5), according to the provided Youtube stats, the increase in views of the video was somewhere between 100k to 200k. The clicks reports attributed to Youtube were about 1,350. That puts the clicks right around 1%, following Gavin’s 1% rule!

If 1% holds true, had the bucket been in place to “catch the drips” to add fans to their mailing list from day one on this video alone, that number could be 7,000.

Michele: This is a great measure and one worth noting for bands releasing content. It’s not always possible to have every single duck in a row, but why not be ready if something pops? In January, I optimized Nicki’s YouTube channel with the new layout, created the (aforementioned) Van Session Playlist, added Channel description and tags, website URL, social media links, new photo, Featured Channels… general prep in case something got traction — 110 subscribers at that time. In a short 4 months, we see a 7545% increase (over 8,300 subscribers). And all possible, of course, with the incredible content of the band. Click HERE for YouTube’s Creator Playbook, a great resource for anyone putting content up on YouTube.


Alex: Nicki Bluhm and the Gamblers did take advantage of the hundreds of thousands of views that their creativity warranted. Hopefully they’ve added some newly excited fans to engage with via email and social media.

Michele: In less than one month, unique email mailing list grew 408% (and climbing), Facebook Likes increased by 270%, YouTube Subscribers increased by 1100%.

Alex: But is NBG still leaving money on the table?

YouTube is running ads against their video, which may be bringing in some additional revenue. Others may also be paying attention, including Daryl Hall himself, as well placed ads for Live From Daryl’s House videos are popping up at the top of recommended videos.

Michele: We mobilized to get a splash page with offers up after the bulk of website traffic hit, so we did miss opportunities there. There is still about 10 times as much website traffic as before the video. Had the splash page been up during the peak days, the direct-to-fan conversion likely would have also been as impressive as the other numbers.

In summary, these videos — that were done in the band’s spare time (but stuff they were having fun and passionate about) — have essentially changed their careers! There are great opportunities arising for Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers. Guitarist Deren Ney recounted the H&O Van Session at, they now have a full-time management team steering their ship, a sold-out Los Angeles Hotel Cafe show on Friday, April 20 and for me, this is a real kicker, the video being part of Ian’s panel this afternoon at ASCAP Expo. It’s been a surprising few weeks. And it’s really just the beginning

.…More at How to turn a YouTube hit into Dollars and Fans

I’d encourage you to check out TopSpin for yourself to determine if it will help you in your efforts to promote yourself online.


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