How YouTube UGC Can Help Independent Musicians


YTBroadcastYourselfSo you’ve discovered a new band that you just can’t get enough of. Their new single is out, they have a new album set to release in the near future, and they’re getting some buzz around the indie music wire. You like them so much that you wish you could shout it from a rooftop, just to help them earn some extra publicity. But did you know that you indeed have the power to not only help this artist gain exposure, but also help them earn revenue?

“But I don’t work for this band’s label… how can I help them earn revenue?”

Why, through User-Generated Content (UGC) on YouTube! You see, YouTube is a fantastic source of user-driven exposure and ad revenue. And since most YouTube users have at least one channel of their own, many have taken to uploading original videos that contain music from their favorite bands, whether it’s as simple as the audio accompanied by an image of the album cover, or a more involved fan tribute in the form of a creative lyric video. Even a video of your new puppy captured on your mobile phone can be uploaded and accompanied by a favorite new tune, and all of these video types count as UGC since they are created by you — the user!

Once the video is uploaded, YouTube’s Content ID system kicks in. Content ID relentlessly searches for audio and visual matches across all videos that exist against all reference files (or “fingerprints”) uploaded by the original content creator or copyright holder. When a match is found, a claim is placed on the video, and if the policy on that particular claim is to monetize, then advertisements will display before, during, or after the video — thus earning the claim-holder advertising revenue! So not only are you helping your favorite band by giving them added exposure on another platform, you’re also directly contributing to ad revenue that they earn!

“Won’t I get in trouble for using music that isn’t mine?”

That’s the beautiful part of UGC; as long as the artist, label and/or distributor have set a policy ahead of time on their music to monetize rather than block, then they are agreeing to allow you and other users to synchronize their music behind any YouTube video you please without so much as a slap on the wrist (just as long as you understand that your video may now have ads).

Perhaps you’re familiar with the standard email sent by YouTube when a claim has been placed on your video: “Your video may have content that is owned or licensed by a third party, but it’s still available on YouTube! In some cases, ads may appear next to it. This claim is not penalizing your account status.” So when you receive that email, don’t panic — it’s just letting you know that this claim now exists on your video and that ads may now display. It’s a win-win situation for you and the band: you’re allowed to use their music as a kind of tribute in your video, and they’ll earn revenue every time someone watches your puppy video! Who knows — perhaps your puppy video will go viral, and your favorite band will become the latest viral success story, like this independent musician who licensed the use of his song behind a wedding video that went viral and earned him thousands in extra revenue!

So the next time you click on the viral video of the week or your favorite artist’s new lyric video and an ad starts up, try not to grumble — those ads help compensate artists, and are what makes it possible for you to include someone else’s music in your puppy video!

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