Can You Make Money With Music on YouTube in 2021?

can you make money with music on youtube in 2021 - decibel peak

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Did you know that YouTube also has its own dedicated music streaming service?

YouTube is one of the many platforms that’s made it possible for artists/musicians to make some decent money. Of course, it’s still the advertising that pays for it all.

So, can you make money with music on YouTube in 2021?

It’s definitely possible to make money with your music on YouTube using music distribution (which will pay $0.00069 per stream) AND by registering with Content ID.

However, the revenue from music placements in YouTube videos is more difficult to predict.

I personally don’t believe that YouTube in itself will pay you enough to make a living with your music but if you keep reading, you’ll see that it’s not all about the money…

Although, I just might show you how to ACTUALLY make money with your music on YouTube.

How to make money with YouTube Music

Getting started with YouTube Music is relatively simple if you’ve already got some music!

To get your music distributed on YouTube Music, you’ll need to register with one of the MANY music distribution services. I personally use DistroKid, but here are some other options…

  • Ditto
  • RouteNote
  • Soundrop

If you’re not familiar with music distribution, consider reading THIS ARTICLE first…

Whether your music distribution takes a percentage of your earnings (usually 15%) or charges a monthly/yearly fee upfront, you’ll want to make sure that your music is in the right hands.

You’ll also want to make sure that YouTube Music is supported.

If your music distribution service includes Content ID, then that’s even better.

LANDR Distribution provides one of the best deals in regards to YouTube monetization, so I highly recommend checking it out if you want to make the most money with music on YouTube.

We’ll talk more about that in the next section, but for now just pick a music distributor.

Once your music is uploaded and scheduled for release, you’ll have your music distributed to MANY other platforms (not just YouTube music).

That’ll allow you to start earning performance/mechanical royalties from each stream.

Remember… 1 stream on YouTube Music = $0.00069

It’s actually the LOWEST payout in the music industry, so don’t expect much. You’ll need about 1.5 MILLION streams to earn $1000.

Luckily, you’ll also be earning from other music streaming services.

However, it’s still VERY difficult to earn a living from music streaming. You can read more about that in THIS ARTICLE.

So you CAN make money with YouTube Music, but is it really worth it?

How to make money with YouTube Content ID

Alright, now we’re going to talk about Content ID.

It’s essentially a process that creates digital “fingerprints” for your music.

That’s how YouTube can detect when your music is being used (legally OR illegally) in someone else’s YouTube video.

It can also be difficult to “whitelist” to individuals/entities that have the right to use your music.

So, let’s just say that YouTube Content ID has its pros and cons…

However, it’s the only way to make money on YouTube with your music placements. Basically, you’ll be taking a portion of the ad revenue from each video your music is synced to.

That’s why it’s more difficult to measure AND predict your potential income.

I personally don’t recommend using Content ID for TWO reasons…

  • It makes it more difficult to work with your music
  • The payoff isn’t worth the trouble

It’s become clear to most artists that Content ID is commoditizing music much like the music streaming services of the last decade.

If you’re determined to use Content ID though, here’s how…

  1. Register with a digital rights management service (Identifyy, AdRev, etc…)
  2. Register with music distribution service that includes Content ID

As if the LOW payouts from Content ID weren’t bad enough, most of these services will also take a percentage of your earnings (usually 15%).

That’s why you’ll absolutely want to read the next section. It’s the alternative I propose…

How to ACTUALLY make money with music on YouTube (micro-licensing)

WHO needs music for YouTube videos? CONTENT CREATORS.

WHERE do content creators find music for YouTube videos? MUSIC LIBRARIES.

Here are some examples…

  • Pond5
  • Audiojungle
  • Artlist
  • Music Bed

Let’s just say that there are PLENTY more where that came from.

It’s also worth noting that some of these music libraries are ROYALTY-FREE. In other words, it’s restricted to use Content ID on those platforms.

So, how else are artists/musicians supposed to make money with music on YouTube?

That’s why you’ll need to start thinking about selling LICENSES to your music.

That’s exactly what these music libraries do (and can do FOR YOU), but it’s slightly different than selling music licenses for broadcast and other traditional venues.

For starters, you’ll be charging MUCH less for a license.

You’ll also definitely be specifying that the license is ROYALTY-FREE.

We refer to this type of music licensing as “micro-licensing”. You need to put yourself in the shoes of the content creator to understand the benefits.

The benefit for us (the artists/musicians) is that there are much more content creators in need of music than Hollywood blockbusters.

That’s why having your music in one of these libraries can generate recurring revenue.

Even if you sell a non-exclusive license for 100$… What if 10 YouTubers purchase it per month?

Personally, I’d prefer charging more upfront than to worry about royalties.

Let’s discuss this a little further in the final section…

Royalties vs Sync Fees for music on YouTube

It seems that performance/mechanical royalties aren’t well-suited for the web.

Sure, processes like Content ID make it easier than ever to monetize music on platforms like YouTube. However, the compensation isn’t proportional to traditional mediums (TV, radio, etc…).

In other words, earning your living from royalties on YouTube is almost impossible.

That being said, it’s very easy to make ends meet by selling licenses to your music.

Of course, the same concept can be applied to any other means of distribution (even weddings and corporate presentations), but it’s especially important for YouTube.

The problem with royalties on YouTube is that you can’t predict views/impressions.

It’s also possible that some placements make you NOTHING.

You also need to consider that there are LOTS of people using ad blockers nowadays.

That’s not possible on Television and in movie theaters…

So, in the case of YouTube I’d rather charge more for a ROYALTY-FREE license than to worry about collecting everything single penny (or fraction thereof) from my placements.

Personally, I’d just forget about royalties for YouTube’s sake.

If you actually want to make money with music on YouTube, the best way to do it is through micro-licensing opportunities.

You might even consider selling subscriptions instead of one-time sync fees.

Summary: Can you make money with music on YouTube?

The short answer… YES.

The long answer… You’ll need to forget about collecting performance/mechanical royalties if you want to make money with music on YouTube. The only way to make a living with your music on YouTube is from selling sync licenses to content creators.

Trust me, content creators have had enough of YouTube Content ID.

If you were in their shoes, you wouldn’t want to worry about that either.

Theoretically speaking, it’s not that difficult to earn a living from music on YouTube if you put your energy in the right place. You could start TODAY if you register with Pond5.

You could also take matters into your own hands and develop your own relationships.

Regardless of HOW you decide to manage/monetize your music catalog, just keep in mind that the music needs to serve a purpose and not just your own.

Think about the type of content that’s on YouTube right now…

I also want you to think about how you’re going to price your licenses.

Remember, you only need to sell 10 licenses per month at 100$ to make 1000$. You could also sell 100 monthly subscriptions at 10$ per month to make 1000$.

Take your time and create your strategy BEFORE releasing your music.

If you need any advice, you can always reach out to me in the comments. Feel free to ask any questions there as well. Thanks for reading, now go make some money!


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