Since 1945, Berklee College of Music has fostered the careers of a constellation of superstars—among them, pianist and singer Diana Krall, Grammy Award-winning jazz artist Esperanza Spalding, musician and producer Quincy Jones and even YouTube sensations Amy Heidemann and Nick Noonan of Karmin. But Berklee, which is located in Boston, can only accept a limited number of students each year on its physical campus.
Thanks to Berkleemusic, the online extension school of the Berklee College of Music founded in 2002, the school can offer more students around the world a world-class music education. Nearly 30,000 online students from more than 130 countries have taken an online course through Berkleemusic. But before they sign up, they can sample lessons presented on the Berkleemusic YouTube channel.
“We started our program in 2002, when online music education was unheard of,” says Pat Raymond, senior marketing manager for Berkleemusic. The school also began sharing free sample courses through its Berklee Shares initiative featuring people like Berklee alum and legendary guitarist Steve Vai on his audition for Frank Zappa’s band.
When thousands of online learners discovered the free content from renowned professors and rock stars, Berkleemusic knew it had a hit.
Berkleemusic’s YouTube channel today features an expanded, HD-quality collection of video music lessons in guitar, music production, and songwriting – among the most-viewed materials – as well as faculty interviews, student stories, and multiple celebrity videos. On YouTube, the school can easily make videos organized, viewer-friendly, and easily found by tagging and categorizing content and breaking 30-minute lessons into shorter episodes with keywords for easy searching, without having to scrub through videos.
“Our branded YouTube channel has 300 videos, reaches more than 33,900 subscribers, and has garnered over 16.8 million video views,” says Raymond.
The Right Video Marketing Medley
To promote content, the school uses search campaigns, search-engine optimization, and YouTube TrueView in-stream video ads, which are pre-roll ads of popular videos used to promote upcoming semester sign-ups.
“We have created several 15-second video ads for our latest YouTube video advertising campaign. Using great demographic and marketing tools available in AdWords for video, we can calibrate our ads to target specific market segments based on our recruitment and marketing goals,” says Milan Kovacev, director of interactive marketing for Berkleemusic.
The online school is constantly fine-tuning its strategies for YouTube video ads in terms of content and ad formats.
“YouTube Analytics is incredibly valuable in understanding our viewers and focusing our ad strategies. Once we understand our core viewer base, we can focus ad formats like in-stream and in-slate with re-marketing opportunities that reach our channel viewers and subscribers,” says Kovacev. “Within a day, we can know if we are successful or not, and tailor our strategy and content accordingly.”
Starring You, on YouTube
Special events also help increase exposure through social sharing. Berkleemusic has hosted the World’s Largest Online Guitar Lesson with Steve Vai, which included a Guitar Lesson from Spinal Tap’s Nigel Fufnel, who is played by actor Christopher Guest.
And in 2011, the YouTube-hosted “CoverKarmin” contest was judged by Berklee alums, Amy Heidemann and Nick Noonan of Karmin. It received hundreds of entries that were spread across the contestants’ own YouTube channels – generating widespread awareness of Berkleemusic’s online programs.
Video Education Pioneers
The online school’s forward-thinking use of video on YouTube is attracting students from around the globe. Since 2008, YouTube views are up 62%, subscribers have increased 76%, and the online school has enrolled hundreds of students from over 40 countries. New views during the last winter term alone were up 99% over the previous term. Today, Berkleemusic is considered the 5th most viewed educational channel out of the 400 colleges and universities from the United States and Canada on YouTube.
Raymond says, “We were pioneers of putting music education out on YouTube. We have attracted a large audience that opens many opportunities for us, but more importantly, for musicians around the world, hungry to learn music online with Berklee.”