File Under: Making Videos

This article is part of the Get Seen series: improving your videos to increase viewership and engagement; creating better and more video content; growing your fanbase and audience; and making money with music.

Our last two articles talked about becoming a YouTube Partner and five ways you could meet YouTube's new requirement of 4000 watch hours and 1000 subscribers join the program. But not every musician takes advantage ways to make ad revenue off of your videos even if can't become a YouTube Partner.

The key is to register your entire back catalog of music with ContentID. ContentID is open to all musicians; you don't need to achieve so many watch hours or subscribers. You simply need to register your music with them.

In short, ContentID allows you to get a cut of ad revenue from anyone using your original music or video content. It also allows you to take content down or just monitor the stats the video is generating. To get these features, you need to register the music and video content you own with their ContentID system (which makes a "digital fingerprint" of your work). Registering doesn't post your music or video content to the public; instead it uploaded to YouTube's backend ContentID system. Once it's uploaded there, their ContentID system scans all videos on YouTube to see if any of your music or video content is being used in other videos. If there’s a match, the system gives you three choices: you can require YouTube to take it down, monitor the video and track its statistics, or collect a share of the advertising revenue.

We talked about how to sign up directly with YouTube in the DIY Advisor article, "How to Make Money from Your Music Back Catalog on YouTube", however, YouTube restricts who can sign up and use their tool. Because of this, YouTube ContentID partners like Audiam, AdRev, Rumblefish, SongTrust, or other publishing administration services such as CDBaby's or TuneCore's Publishing Administration.

Most of these partners charge a percentage of the ad share revenue generated, so you'll want to research the cut these middlemen take. Note that since these services only make money when your content is used, they may not offer you all the choices YouTube provides -- namely the ability to take down a video or just track its stats.

Lastly, keep in mind ContentID is limited only to YouTube videos and, it's only able to catch exact matches for the music and video content you uploaded. For instance, any covers of your song won't be picked up unless the YouTubers who covered your song used samples from your original recording. This means you'll miss out on the ad share these views are generating for you. So, to help capture covers of your music, Audiam ( and Rumblefish ( included services will track down these additional uses of your music that ContentID can't catch, for a fee. These services also go beyond YouTube, reviewing and monitoring uses on Facebook, Vimeo, and more.

Remember that ContentID, and the YouTube Partner program, are just two of the sources of income for video. Many of the others have to do with promoting all of the rest of your income sources, including patronage, merch, music sales, live shows, and more. The platform just happens to also provide you with ad revenue on top of the others. Still, since it helps to have a large subscription base and dedicated viewing audience, these techniques, plus your work in developing your YouTube channel should help you succeed at your music as well.

For even more income ideas, check out our upcoming book Making Money With Music, to be released September 4, 2018. (PRE ORDER HERE)


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Photo credit: Graham Richardson