YouTube may have started out as a platform where people just uploaded random funny videos in terrible quality. But since then, it’s become a hub for many different interests. One of those is music, which spurred YouTube itself to develop as a music platform. But YouTube as a music platform started with pioneers like CloudKid.
If you’ve ever listened to music on YouTube, you’ve probably seen one from CloudKid’s channel. They post great curated music from artists you may not have heard about and pair it with some interesting moving art for a nice visualizer. The videos posted become wildly popular, generating view counts in the millions, and sometimes help to indirectly launch careers.
Helping curate music wasn’t the end of it though for Gereon, CloudKid’s creator. He wanted to grow it into something more. And so he founded a label. Now he can leverage CloudKid’s marketing and branding expertise into directly launching an artist’s career. Through a partnership with Universal Music, they’ve already been able to release a number of singles through the CloudKid brand. The dream gets bigger, with more releases, more artists, and maybe even a festival.
We got a chance to talk a bit with Gereon and explore how the channel got started, how it grew into the label, and what his process is like.
Can you tell us a bit about how CloudKid got started?
CloudKid started from being a fan. I was (and still am) a huge fan of channels like MrSuicideSheep, Majestic Casual, The Sound You Need, etc. However, none of these channels appealed to my personal taste 100%. Hence I decided to create my own channel and try to do things my way.
What do you think drove people to your channel to discover music?
I think early on it was uploading super unknown music that was not uploaded anywhere else on YouTube. I love to take “risks” and upload music that you might not expect or listen to outside of the channel. It’s almost always received super well and I feel like that’s what keeps my community strong.
Nowadays I think the artwork I custom paint for every upload/video is also a big part of the experience as it offers a unique visual aspect that I’m able to create myself around the music.
From your origins as a YouTube channel, how did you grow into a larger music focus?
My goal was always to be able to upload a track and having that ultimately being the kickstart to an artists career in music, regardless of how many followers they have. As the channel grew and I was able to provide a larger amount of listeners to an artist, I felt like no matter how big the channel would get, it wouldn’t be enough to help an artist as much as I wanted to. That was the birth of the label for CloudKid and a possibility to not only upload a track, but help the artist with everything else around the music and their branding.
What do you think about your role in expanding the music industry beyond just Top 40 artists and artists with major label support?
Top 40 music can be great of course, but there is way more out there than Top 40. There are so many unknown artists out there that don’t only have music, but also an incredible story to share. That is what we strive to expose more of. The message, the meaning, the feeling behind a track and the vision of the artist. Those are lost way too often in this fast-paced, digitalized new age of music.
What does your day-to-day look like?
Listening to music, painting, engaging with the community, and working with my team to build a vision and infrastructure that allows us to push artists we believe to the next level.
What do you typically look for in music when curating it?
Emotion. I don’t care about big names, production value or possible benefit if I were to upload. What counts for me is the emotional value of a track. If I feel something, I’ll upload it/support it.
What have been some of your challenges in growing beyond the YouTube channel into a wider focus? How about greatest successes so far?
Growing outside of YouTube has been an amazing challenge. Building a label and working outside of the known “YouTube world” has been super impactful to what I do. Even though it’s the same industry, it’s a completely different game through which I have learned incredibly much in a short period of time.
Also going from just uploading music onto YouTube from my bedroom to building an actual company with a team, vision, and long-term strategy was something I never expected, and the learning process is definitely a challenge at times; an unbelievably fun and inspiring one though.
Greatest success might be the wrong term, but for me, the most fun and fulfilling project we’ve done as a label this year was definitely the track we worked on with gabriel black titled “jump.” Working super close with the artist and his team to build a story around a release with a mobile game, merchandise, animated videos, and assets with Gabriel and CloudKid, as well as a lyric video in the artist’s style was one of the best projects so far. Seeing that all come together and actually experiencing the impact it had on the artist is what I strive to do a lot more of.
Any artists you can’t stop listening to right now?
Some artists that have impressed me since day one and still do to this day include Whethan, DROELOE, MAX, and Two Feet. Can’t wait to share what artists we are working with on the label though; those are my new favorites.
Where do you see yourself taking CloudKid in the future?
I want to take CloudKid to the actual level that made me want to start this entire project; being able to work with a talented, undiscovered artist and helping them turn their passion into a career.
What’s one thing you wish more people knew about the music industry?
I think people need to start to realize it’s about working together to create something impactful. Working against each other will help no one. Way too many people try to put others down to pull themselves up.
Check out new releases and subscribe over on the CloudKid YouTube channel.