Leveraging YouTube Shorts, Pop Duo Crash Adams went from obscurity to No. 1 on Chartmetric's Breakthrough 100—not to mention being signed by Warner Records—in less than a year.
Crash Adams' mission is to spread positivity across the world, and thanks to YouTube, they've been able to do exactly that. When the Toronto/Los Angeles-based duo started making music in 2019, a major label signing was probably a pipe dream, but fast-forward four years, and Crash Adams are experiencing some of the most impressive growth you can imagine.
In just 13 months, Crash Adams achieved true cross-platform success, catapulting from 4,000 to 4,000,000 YouTube subscribers, 1.3B monetized views, and 75M+ Spotify streams—among other milestones. In January 2023, the duo garnered the No. 1 spot on Chartmetric’s 6MO H2 2022: Breakthrough 100 list. In other words, their digital footprint saw the biggest growth among all Developing acts within the past year, further highlighting the merits of a true comprehensive (and replicable) marketing strategy. Using YouTube Shorts, Crash Adams harnessed their brand, their community, and their content cadence, parlaying those into explosive success, both on and off the platform. And the multi-hyphenates show no signs of slowing down.
Create Your Roadmap
After initially cultivating a following on TikTok, mostly through variety-style and short-form pranks that incorporated both their music and covers into skits, the duo, consisting of singer Rafaele Massarellli (Crash) and guitarist Vince Sasso (Adams), started posting original songs on YouTube in early 2022. Over the next several months, together with their YouTube Network Partner, Ten2 Media, they developed a unique playbook by understanding and sticking to growth objectives they established together early on.
Crash Adams fused musical talent, creativity, and brand identity to create a unique and cohesive footprint that ignited viewer interest. They developed a short-form video formula to showcase their style and music quickly enough so viewers could assess if they enjoyed a particular sound or not. YouTube Shorts helped the duo identify songs that resonated in real time, providing valuable insights that informed longer-form content.
This playbook of content creation, real-time feedback, and short-to-long-form teasing encouraged them to lean into YouTube Shorts and pave their own way on the still-emerging platform feature. Their journey has proved more relatable and informative as a result, especially to other independent artists looking to do the same.
“In collaboration with Ten2 Media, our YouTube Network Partner, we’ve recognized how effective it is to integrate original music into YouTube-native content vs. promotional formats. Crash Adams’ consistency plus high-volume output in tandem with ownable video franchises quickly built a fanbase that anticipates their content and actively engages with their music. The duo has become an exemplary case study for using short-form content to directly drive music consumption,” Dalia Ganz, SVP of Digital Marketing, Warner Records, told Chartmetric.
Early (and Authentic) Adoption
By July 2022, their engagement numbers were pointing to three key indicators that catalyzed the duo’s decision to double-down on YouTube immediately:
Data: No other platform comes close to YouTube with regard to audience data and analytics. If you want to understand your audience and consumption habits, use it.
Short-Term: YouTube designated a Shorts Fund allowing (and rewarding) artists to beta test content on Shorts while being paid for it. That use-case consistency intrinsically baked Crash Adams' channel content into YouTube’s vastly expansive algorithm of long- and short-form content. Essentially, Shorts helped them cultivate a real audience while paying them to do so.
Long-Term: YouTube cares about the long-game; it rewards creators for platform commitment as demonstrated by content consistency—again, long- and short-form. Unlike other platforms, where success comes and goes with each viral fad, YouTube's content ecosystem provides an opportunity for artists to continue building off viral success. This cost-benefit was big enough to warrant real commitment to YouTube as the duo’s primary content hub.
Innovative use of YouTube Shorts—especially with its one-click subscribe call-to-action (CTA) button—remains a crucial factor in Crash Adams’ ongoing rise. They continue to reach a wider audience, showcasing their musical talents in creative and highly engaging ways.
Understand Your Data
Audience sentiment (and data) never lie. As Crash Adams and Ten2 Media saw recurring performance peaks, they identified the spikes around a specific content format—one in which the band compiled micro-sketches from interviews and interactions on the streets, asking random passersby to "guess the song."
It's worth keeping in mind that YouTube is the No. 1 music discovery platform in the world and the No. 2 search engine on the internet. Crash Adams' team knew these stats, and the format they identified (billy-on-the-street-esque, but make it music) built a forum for fan discovery, integrating the duo's original songs in a uniquely authentic context that aligned them with similar music and established contemporary artists. By leaning into YouTube user habits, Crash Adams and their team used analytics to create the right content, building a massive and loyal fanbase along the way.
“It’s always invigorating to work with partners who embody a pioneering perspective. Now more than ever, innovation is table stakes and longevity mandates strategic evolution. In this instance, the results speak for themselves,” Tom Corson, Warner Records Co-Chairman & COO told Chartmetric.
Build a Flywheel by Building Community
YouTube inherently engenders community—it was designed to keep users engaged within the platform, curating relevant content for discovery via algorithm and ultimately rewarding creators for sharing “good” content. To encourage creators to continue doing so, YouTube offers all the tools. It has literally built a tab called “Community,” where, when used together with Shorts and long-form videos, artists are able to reinforce their brand while fostering a strong connection with their fanbase. With each content format reinforcing the other, artists can quickly grow their entertainment universe on-platform and successfully export it to other platforms.
For Crash Adams, YouTube was integral to their ability to export success across platforms. Despite early and rapid growth on several other social platforms, that performance did not translate to streams or followers. Audiences weren't using Crash Adams’ music to create user-generated content (UGC). However, as their YouTube footprint grew, even with very little editorial playlisting from Spotify, they landed on numerous Top 50 Viral charts around the world.
Consistency Is King
Of course, all the data and analytics in the world can’t make up for a lack of volume or consistency in content production. The secret to Crash Adams' success is disciplined, prolific content output in addition to performance analysis. Put another way, the methodical benchmarking of creative ideas within thematic content pillars that users fundamentally find entertaining has proven incredibly effective.
For instance, by passively inserting original songs into their videos, Crash Adams were able to drive awareness and direct interest to their brand and music in a seemingly organic way. This passive (i.e., not actively promoting their music) approach to generating exposure allowed fans to buy into their personalities, ultimately leading to cross-platform discovery. Today, anytime one of their Shorts goes viral, the direct result is cross-platform lift: streams, followers, and likes on Spotify and other DSPs.
The Future of Artist Independence
On YouTube, Crash Adams built a community of real fans who watch their videos, listen to their music, and add their tracks to their (non-editorial) playlists. YouTube, especially Shorts, has provided a powerful platform for Crash Adams to showcase their artistry, music, and personality—all while helping them grow a dedicated audience and earn life-changing income in the process.
Crash Adams' YouTube success generated so much buzz that Warner Records signed the duo, proving that the future of artist independence doesn’t always mean "independent artist." By consistently creating both short-form and long-form content, artists of any caliber—in any genre—can follow the Crash Adams model, utilizing YouTube to create a cohesive musical identity that reaches and resonates with fans, globally.