Three ways to monetise your music on YouTube

Three ways to monetise your Music on YouTube


Throughout the years YouTube has never failed to remain a hot topic in the music business. It’s the number one platform for young music consumers to listen to their favourite tunes. Let’s face it: whether you want it or not, at some point your music is going to surface on YouTube. Even though payouts have been the subject of much debate recently, monetising your music on YouTube is still better than reaping no benefits from one of the world’s most influential sites—not least the promotional effect.

There are basically three types of monetisation on YouTube, two of which are only available via digital aggregators like iMusician. On the one hand there is Content ID, which lets you monetise videos that use your music, and on the other hand is the new streaming service, Music Key. The third option, which you can do yourself, is to become a YouTube partner. With that option you can only monetise videos that you upload to your own channel. As there is often some confusion about the merits of each option, we’d like to take this opportunity explain what each service can do for you.

Content ID

Your youtubemonmetadata and audio files are delivered as a reference in YouTube’s backend. These files are not publicly accessible, and no videos are uploaded. As a next step, these reference files are matched against YouTube’s data, and all videos that are found that have audio matching your music are monetised for you. When your music is found in a video, the user who uploaded that video receives a copyright notification saying that he or she is using copyrighted third-party material. This even applies when you upload your music on your own channel. Don’t despair, though, if the content owner mentioned in that message is the company that you charged with the monetisation of your Music on YouTube, it merely means that they are doing their job correctly and monetising your Music for you. You do not have to take any action. Your video or channel won’t be blocked.

How does your content get monetised with Content ID? All revenue generated via the Content ID monetisation programme comes from advertising. Ads are served to videos based on availability and with an algorithm that measures each viewer’s ad saturation. This means that whenever one viewer watches multiple monetised videos after another, ads won’t be served every time he or she views a video, as YouTube doesn’t want to deter viewers by overloading them with ads. Also, as most ads are bought on a bidding basis, prices for those ads vary based on availability. In December, for instance, ads are sold at considerably higher rates due to high demand by advertisers leading up to Christmas, as Christmas sales are vital to the survival of many businesses. Furthermore, the types of ads shown on your videos vary on how the video is categorised, as ads are served targeted on the content of the video and the preferences of the viewer. Additionally, the amount of money you get paid also depends on the ad format. Banners (display ads), for example, are much cheaper than non-skippable video ads.

YouTube Red

YouTube Red, originally launches as YouTube Music Key is YouTube’s paid subscription service, currently only available in select countries. Your songs, metadata, and album cover are delivered to YouTube like any other streaming service. From that data, YouTube generates static videos and album playlists, and, in most cases, so-called artist topics. If YouTube Red finds an official video of a Song on your channel, it displays that instead of its own static version.

How does YouTube Red generate revenue? YouTube Red has a free tier, which essentially includes all “official” music videos on YouTube, and this part works in the same way that Content ID monetisation works with the important difference that only that one specific video is monetised. No reference file is added that claims any other videos. Additionally, the videos that are integrated into YouTube Red receive revenue from paid subscribers. The per-stream payout amount is not yet quite clear as subscriber numbers are still varying. We’ve seen reports of payouts as high as 5.4 cents per stream, but most other figures point towards a much lower median rate at about 0.1 to 0.2 cents per stream. Of course, these are figures from the free beta. We expect these rates to be higher once the service becomes available in more countries and picks up some speed and more paying subscribers.

Become a YouTube partner

You can sign your channel up to be partnered with YouTube. Additionally, you’ll need to verify your channel and open an AdSense account. With this option you let YouTube place ads on your videos and receive a part of the revenue. You just upload your videos, and if they meet the criteria, you select them for monetisation, and that’s all you have to do. However, unlike Content ID monetisation, this option will only work for your channel, while Content ID scours all of YouTube for any videos that may contain your music and places ads on those videos so that you may benefit when others use your work.

So, should you put your music on YouTube? We suggest you put at least part of your catalogue on the world’s most popular video site. If you don’t, someone else will probably upload it. And that’s where Content ID becomes most useful. You’ll earn the same when you upload your music on your own channel and when someone uploads it without your permission.


I signed up for Content ID monetisation. Why don’t I see ads on my video?

Depending on the channel’s history, the first few hundred views might not be monetised, as advertisers may choose to target popular videos. Also, YouTube doesn’t offer monetisation in all countries, and it doesn’t have advertising deals in every country. Furthermore, explicit content or the use of alcohol, tobacco products, or narcotics might deter advertisers from placing ads on your video.

My video was viewed 5000 times last week, why am I not getting any revenue?

Again, it may have been viewed mostly in a country where no ads are shown or ad revenue is very little.

How much will I earn?

Content ID:  There is no fixed number, but as a rule of thumb you can assume about 0.1 Cents per view, but we’ve seen amounts as low as 0.02 Cents, even in regions like the United States and Western Europe, where ad revenue tends to be the highest.

Music Key: As already mentioned, the exact rates here will still have to be determined, but we’ve seen anywhere rates between 0.05 to 5.4 cents, but expect realistic numbers to be in the range of 0.1 to 0.8 cents.

I want to handle monetisation on my channel myself. You guys do the rest. What do I have to do?

Just send us an email to our YouTube guy at . He’ll be happy to help you out and put your channel on our whitelist, which means that our Content ID references won’t claim any content on your channel, and thus not monetise it.