Remember music TV in the eighties, more commonly known as MTV, well things have changed a little since then. Whilst at the time MTV was a ground breaking development which no doubt launched a 1000 careers, its now about as exciting as another great 80’s invention the microwave. The new King on the Hill is undoubtedly ‘YouTube’ and unlike MTV its not a land locked proviential that only the privileged few can gain access to. Therefore as an asspiring artist in 2016, assuming you are not going for the underground anonymity route, understanding YouTube is essential.

In the following post we will cover two key topics: Protecting your Music / Monetising your Music


Protecting Your Music

Whilst technically anyone can upload your music to YouTube, you dont need to worry,  as you still have full control over your copyrighted material.

1) Submit a copyright takedown notice:

Simply click this link and fill out the attached form. When submitting the form bear in mind that you are technically starting a legal process and therefore you must actually own 100% of the copyrighted material and subsequently be authorised to make the claim. This option is available to all YouTube users, however if you have a record deal for that particular piece of music and/or a significant online YouTube profile a second option may also be open to you: ‘Content ID’

2) Content ID:

Is a database of files that have been submitted to YouTube by content owners, all videos uploaded to YouTube are scanned against this database. If a match is found Copyright owners can then decide what happens with the content that matches their own work. However in order to submit your files for inclusion in the Content ID database you need to apply to become a Content Owner, and again like option 1 you must own 100% of the copyrighted material. To become a ‘Content Owner’ you have to meet a number of specific criteria; number of subscribers, monthly plays etc and therefore if you have a very minimal YouTube presence (less than a 1000 subscribers, couple of hundred plays a month) this option will not be open to you. However if you dont meet these specific criteria but your music has been signed to a label who uses a well established distribution company, the label should be able to manage the content itself or instruct its distributor to operate on your behalf as the ‘Content Owner‘. But bear in mind that this will mean that either the distributor or the label will take a percentage of all revenue raised and therefore its important before signing any contracts that you accurately understand what percentage of the advertising revenue you will receive. It should also be noted that a takedown is not the only option available when making a content claim, for instance you may decide to leave the offending video active and monetise it instead. Which nicely introduces the second of our two topics…

Monetising Your Music

Again like the ‘Content ID’ system what is available to you will depend on a number of criteria, however over time your status as an artist could change dramatically and therefore its important to understand and apply, where applicable, all 6 options discussed below.

1) YouTube Partner Programme

Assuming you’ve already posted some content and have accumulated a healthy number of subscribers and plays you should be able to apply to become a ‘YouTube Parter’. Click the link to see criteria and apply.

2) Monetisation

If you have been accepted into the ‘Partner Programme’ you will now see the option ‘Enable My Account’ for monetisation in your account settings. Again click the link we have provided and follow the instructions to complete this step.

If you are accepted into the Partner Programme and you have successfully enabled your account for Monetisation YouTube will now make your videos available to advertisers, and assuming you content meets the monetisation criteria adverts will be placed on your videos. However its important to note that you only make money on advert clicks not video plays and also that there is no way of controlling the ads shown on your videos as YouTube cannot guarantee that adverts will always be relevant to your content. Furthermore if the music on your channel has been signed to a record label and you signed some sort of contract with that label it is unlikely that you still own the copyright for that material, and therefore either the label or its distributor will monetise the video’s on your channel, thus preventing you from monetising certain video’s. Having said all this it is still very important as an artist to understand all this when it comes to signing contracts and understanding how labels manage content on your behalf, which leads to my third point…

3) Content ID

As I alluded to earlier a Content ID claim does not necessarily require that the offending video be blocked or muted. A third option is to monetise that video. This is where your understanding comes in, do you know if your label has submitted your music to the YouTube Content ID database and if so has it monetised or blocked video’s that are using your music?

4) Vevo

Is a multinational video hosting service owned and operated by a joint venture between 2 music majors (Universal Music Group & Sony Music Entertainment) and Google who own YouTube. Vevo provides highly targeted advertising alongside the videos they host, with all three organisations sharing the advertising revenue. Therefore to get your music on a Vevo video would require being signed to one of the two majors mentioned above. However you may be the next big thing and Universal may come knocking, if so you should know that Vevo receives in the region of 50 million plus unique views every year, the highest of any single ‘Youtube Partner’ and YouTube is responsible for generating the majority of Vevo’s plays worldwide. Combined these companies have a hugely profitable mutual partnership and therefore understanding what slice you will get from the advertising revenue generated alongside your Vevo hosted music is vital when agreeing contracts.

5) Annotations / Cards

When editing a video you will notice two options running horizontally above your video ‘Annotations‘ & ‘Cards‘. Both of these allow you to embed external links directly into your video and therefore could be used to point fans to where they could buy your music directly or other related merchandise.

6) Product Placements & Endorsements or Sponsorship

Paid product placements can be described as pieces of content that are created (specifically) for a third party and/or where that third party’s brand, message or product is integrated directly into the content. However like some of the other topics we have covered this option is only really available to you if you have a significant number of subscribers and daily views. For more information [click here]

So there you go, YouTube demystified, hopefully the above information will give you a running start when deciding how to package and present your music to the wider world.


New Artists – How To Get Your Music Noticed…[Part 1]