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Steve Moore, B.A., J.D. Author Steve has been in the music business for over 30 years! He's worked as a professional musician, producer, and has been involved in almost every aspect of the music business. He's also the author of "The Truth about the Music Business"

How to get Paid for YouTube Spins, etc

I’m often asked – “how do some artists or content creators get paid for YouTube plays and some don’t?” In fact, there are cases of artist/creators that have had millions of hits but NOT made a dime.  I’ve blogged about this about 5 times as it changes a every few months after each blog but I’ve had MORE HITS from thees- welcome to the digital age!  KEEP UP or GET LEFT BEHIND!  But you MUST Sign up with Sound Exchange – BMI/ASCAP or SESAC are NOT going to pay you for DIGITALLY STREAMED CONTENT!  And you should go ahead and file your copyrights (if even as a VOLUME of works) and also file your clearance with BMI, ASCAP, or SESAC.

With that said, from what I understand if you have enough videos on your “personal” YouTube Channel – In short, you have a LOT of content and get a LOT of hits and then you apply for a “YouTube Partnership” (the more videos, the more hits, etc means hence more AD opps or vies for YouTube and hence the more likely you get paid for spins on YOUR dedicated channel) – And that also equals AD REV’s for just Channel Views for AD SENSE if you have that option selected.  And you should sign up for Ad Sense even if you’ve just got a blog or RSS FEED.

So in order to sum this up without giving ANY LEGAL ADVICE, this is what I understand to be the basic YouTube Revenue Model:

If one Google’s a song or just searches in YouTube or even clicks through to a YouTube via a link from a website, blog, tweet, or from a social network, etc it will take you to a “main” type of YouTube Page that BLASTS you with ADS for a number of things BEFORE You get to the main channel with the content you’re looking for – then when you hit the main channel it should have a number and/or list of many videos…therein are the ADS at the top and right side of those pages and YouTube will REV SHARE those ADS IF You are a “Partner”(and then you can subscribe to that channel and THEN go watch ALL the videos on that channel); but if one just has a video up there and doesn’t have a WAY of tracking it via Analytics that’s tied to the partnership deal – (BTW, You Can’t GET anything but INSIGHT unless you have a partner deal and THEN you get TRUE ANALYTICS!) , then without the partner deal there’s no way to get paid.

Of course, you can also use Ad Sense on your personal video channel which means each time someone visits your exclusive channel you can get paid pennies for YouTube and/or AD SENSE generated ads – but the “partnership deal” is way more lucrative “IF” you get HITS. If you’re not using AD SENSE then you are at the mercy of the ads placed on YouTube by Google and hence you won’t ever get paid.  And even still you are at the mercy of AD SENSE as to the type of ads that are placed on your YouTube page, blog or RSS FEED but you CAN pick TOPIC and/or CATEGORIES but you don’t get paid THAT MUCH at all – even if somebody buys something via a click through – I had somebody buy something that amounted to over $600 USD and got a whopping $1.65 on my statement that month! But then again, I get a LOT of hits on the AGGREGATE of my total online presence – so it does ad up!

But if you TRULY want to get PAID – then there are a NUMBER of steps you MUST take.  Again, first FILE YOUR COPYRIGHTS – this is the ONLY WAY to prove ownership and protect your rights – don’t mail it to yourself – that’s NOT going to work and the MOST misunderstood part of a “Statutory Copyright” – (buy my BOOK for details)  – if you don’t file you don’t get the BUNDLE OF RIGHTS that comes with a copyright (again READ MY BOOK!)

And make sure to file your song clearance forms with BMI, etc – and for SURE REGISTER FOR SOUND EXCHANGE!

http://www.soundexchange.com/ (Who knows – you may have MONEY waiting on you!)

Then IF you have enough content – that YOU OWN – then there’s a YouTube link that you can Google on “How to become a YouTube partner” BUT the rules are pretty stringent – you have to have viable CONTENT and get a lot of hits and PROVE or make a case via a statement as to WHY YouTube should be a partner with you.  If you’ve got enough content, enough hits and a mission (along with NO COVER SONGS – or at least you must pay for the SYNC RIGHTS for that use of the cover song – and this is NOT like a compulsory license for releasing a cover or even an entire “cover CD” – you just file the correct “compulsory license with the publisher(s)” and pay the Statutory RATE)  If you have cover songs that you have NOT obtained the SYNC RIGHTS then you’ll NEVER get that partner deal!

Just as an aside – I checked on a “luke-warm” song – with Universal for the Sync Rights – it was $1000.00 per year for USE with a BRAND – or to promote company (so be sure you look at the NATURE of the use before you pony up the dough!)  Otherwise, release your cover songs somewhere else!

So IF you get all of those duck in a ROW and you’re a PARTNER with YouTube – then you will start to get paid – just keep in mind that 64,000,000 hits won’t get you even close $50K USD.  More likely $0.0000018 or something insanely low for each spin.

HOWEVER, if you’re getting into the 1,000,000 spins range – you can can also get paid for Ads that run BEFORE your video *(which you see with a lot of major artists) – which means that you’ve either set up a deal with an Ad company or directly with the advertising division of a major company that comes to you or vice versa to get THEIR AD PLACED and then the money is paid direct to you the “video channel owner” based upon the number of plays. Pay for plays. And then a smaller chunk for the Ad Sense adverts that are on your “video channel” that can also be set up for a “click through fee” if people go to that company and BUY something! So you have to run Analytics to show that you do have the click throughs to that company that BUYS from your Ad Sense placed – which is a LOT easier to track via a widget from your own website vs. YouTube no matter HOW intensive you’ve set up your conversion rates, etc.

But just like with My Space – I questioned way back in early 2000 – “hey I’m getting a LOT of spins – but NOT a single cent in payment from BMI or ASCAP – WHY” – the answer is simple technology moves at a blistering pace- while legislation is like watching paint dry.

In fact, I wanted to get paid a small performance fee via streaming fee for my spins for all my copyrights – which was at the time on all 4 of my My Space Pages combined well over 15,000 to 20K spins – but NOT a penny on my BMI Statement and don’t expect to see it.  BMI and ASCAP just doesn’t handle that before Sound Exchange as the admin costs were huge – plus how do they know if someone listened to 1/10 of the song or the whole thing based upon their current set up on My Space – and artists can log in and increase their spins by playing their own music over and over (or even set up tricks so that their music STREAMS 24/7 via multiple computers – try that and see if you don’t LOSE your ReverbNation or other accounts pretty quick!

Which is sort of what happened to me at ReverbNation – they all but accused me of doing that when I NEVER go to “my MY BAND” site and listen to my own stuff – just got a bunch of people that know me that go stream my music all the time – but I can understand why it could LOOK like it was just me doing it as we’re all on the same ISP, etc .

AGAIN, do go to Sound Exchange and register as they will help you collect for Digital Royalties for STREAMING your music in any number of formats http://www.soundexchange.com/

The real crux of the problem is that the Law cannot keep up with technology such that artists can get PAID for their YouTube spins, my space spins, and every other way a song can be listened to LEGALLY – not pirating. But YOU CAN get paid a small amount for ReverbNation and similar digital distributors for your streams and/or sales through iTunes, etc – it’s not much unless you own ALL of the rights- which is why you DO NOT want to give up a 360 deal to a major label unless you’re going to be a MAJOR ACT that stays around for a while and your songs have longevity- but you do get paid.

You should note that on Video ” The Bed Intruder (now on iTunes) they have to give credit and hence revenue share with and to the “family” on the video as well as to the copyright creators and of course iTunes.  So their royalties got SATURATED big time!

So that’s basically it – if you don’t sign up for the partnership AND get it – you won’t get paid and even if you do it’s fraction of pennies on the dollar.

If an unsigned artist wants to monetize a single, he/she can sign up for the “Individual Video Partnership Program” with YT. Also, the amount of advertising revenue a video can earn is totally the function of the performance of the video, but the creators of “David After Dentist”, a two-minute clip that has generated 63M views on the site, have made $30K from the original video. That equates to $0.00047619 per view.

So what does that mean for the creators? File your copyrights! Send in your Clearance forms to BMI/ASCAP/SESAC and make sure you sign up for Sound Exchange AND THEN apply for the “Partnership Program” and then hit the social networks and get the word out!

And if you really want to delve into this deeper – then buy my BOOK – “”The Truth about the Music Business”  – soon to be available on E-Books!  Or contact me for more information….

Best of LUCK!

Steve Moore, B.A. J.D. Author

The Truth about the Music Business

High Cotton Records

Steve Moore & the New South

ButterMilk Media



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