YouTube Basics for Songwriters and Producers: How to Get Paid and Protect Your Work

Carl LeGrett, Head of A&R and Music Publishing at Create Music Group, explains the basics of getting paid on YouTube and protecting your work at the same time.

By Carl Le Grett of Create a music group

In my opinion, YouTube drives more music discoveries than any other DSP like Spotify or Apple Music.

YouTube is also where music creators go to seek inspiration or find the latest beats. This is why, as a beginner producer/composer, it is important to prepare for success on the platform. By doing a few simple things, you can increase the potential to earn real money on YouTube and protect your music and copyrights for the long term.

The basics

Anyone can start making money on YouTube as soon as they have 1,000 subscribers or reach $4,000 in watch time. To effectively monetize your content, you need to understand that music content on YouTube is made up of three types of elements:

  • Web assets – it’s music that you upload yourself to YouTube. Web elements do not necessarily contain information about the copyright holder.
  • Recording assets – it’s music that you distribute on YouTube through an independent distributor like DistroKid or CD Baby. These assets contain information about the copyright holder of the song or beat.
  • Music video assets – this is a music video that is distributed on YouTube via xxxxx. This element also contains information about the copyright holder.

Web assets can be a blessing and a curse. They are the only way to monetize on YouTube without partnering with a third-party distributor or YouTube monetization company. However, the problem with Web Assets is that it gives others access to post your work and stream it to their channels without paying you for it.

For this reason, in my opinion, the biggest mistake most producers make is not releasing their work. They upload a cool new beat that someone else can take and turn into their own song. Because they have not officially distributed their material, it is not identifiable through YouTube’s content identification system. As a producer, you have essentially little recourse to protect your material if you upload your track as a web asset.

However, everything changes once you officially distribute your content – and it can be a beat, a song, whatever. Now music is recognized via Content ID, so if someone picks up your track, you can decide to claim their song. (You might not always want to do this, but more on that in a minute). Distributing your content through a third-party company also ensures that you will get paid if your track goes viral on YouTube and other people use your track in their videos. User-generated content is where the real money is.

Once you’ve distributed your track on YouTube, it’s easy to check if it’s properly credited and monetized. Anyone can click on the description of any Youtube video and go to the bottom and see who owns the track.

Coping with theft

What do you do if you see someone else taking your beat and using it in their own YouTube video? The platform’s content identification system is robust and will hopefully identify the track. As a producer, if a claim is filed against your channel, you can log into your YouTube Studio account and submit a claim dispute. Once the meter is submitted, all future earnings are held in an escrow account until the dispute is resolved.

But what if someone takes your beat and it explodes? It may be up to you to wait to claim it. If a track is on the rise on YouTube – and things are moving very, very quickly on the platform, filing a claim could bring it to a halt. It may be a better strategy to watch this track climb up the charts and rack up plays, because if the track becomes a bona fide hit, as the copyright holder, you’ll have a lot more leverage to strike a deal. with what, in all likelihood, is now becoming a major label track.

It’s a tough world, especially for up-and-coming music makers. But if you do a few simple things, and most importantly consider distributing your content through a third party, you’ll be setting yourself up for success in the future.

Carl Le Grett handles music publishing for Create a music group, one of the fastest growing music and media companies in the world. He regularly raises over $1 million a month on behalf of Create customers on YouTube alone. It is collected on behalf of songwriters/producers behind tracks such as Polo G’s Billboard Hot 100 #1 ‘RAPSTAR’, French Montana’s 9x Platinum Single ‘Unforgettable’ and Rod Wave’s ‘Heart On Ice’.

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