Jun. 12th, 2017
How to Protect Music with YouTube’s Content ID
(See the update on this story below.)
Music piracy is the industry’s #1 enemy-of-the-state. Since its inception in the days of Napster and file-sharing, music piracy is the can of worms the industry hasn’t yet been able to re-cap. Paid streaming services have provided a slightly comforting salve to the wound left by “free” music. YouTube, a platform essentially made popular on the back of the music industry, has tried (in its own way) to provide an answer to the problem. But is it working for artists?
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YouTube is the world’s biggest music streaming platform. With an estimated user base of 1 billion, that means about one of every eight people in the world visits the site every month. The site’s own statistics say one-third of all people on the internet watch their videos. Those are serious numbers for artists and record labels who fear the platform isn’t doing enough to fairly compensate music creators.
YouTube Red, the site’s premium ad-free service, has been slow to catch on. The Verge reported last year that: “Tidal grew faster than YouTube Red did in the first year after its relaunch, picking up 2.1 million subscribers [as opposed to the 1.5 million for Red]. (To be fair, Tidal rolled out to more countries than YouTube Red did in its first year—but!—Tidal was/is a public relations disaster that most of the internet loves to hate.)”
So what does all of this mean for individuals without millions of dollars invested in the music business—for indie artists, unsigned producers, sound engineers, and DJs?
YouTube is still the platform you need to be on to promote your music and music videos. Their audience and reach are undeniable. As an independent artist, the promotional and social aspects of this platform will do way more to help your career than any potential harm it might bring in the early years of your career. But there are ways to protect your music and brand without giving up entirely on the site.
From YouTube: “Copyright owners can use a system called Content ID to easily identify and manage their content on YouTube.”
“Videos uploaded to YouTube are scanned against a database of files that have been submitted to us by content owners. Copyright owners get to decide what happens when content in a video on YouTube matches a work they own. When this happens, the video gets a Content ID claim.”
So if you find someone using your music (say, maybe, in the background of their entire video or creating a lyric video for your track) or music video (reposting your music video on their account) without your permission, YouTube gives you three options:
- “Block” the video. No more views from anyone. This kills the video but also kills the extra reach. At this stage in your career, you want all the attention you can get.
- “Monetize” it and allow YouTube to put ads on the video. You might have to share revenue with the person that uploaded the video, but at least you’re making money from it.
- Lastly, “Track” how the video is doing. You’ll get statistics from the video just like it was your own upload. Since a video needs 10,000 views to start making money from ads, this might be the preferred option for artists who haven’t reached that benchmark yet.
Remember that you need to qualify for Content ID to take advantage of these options. You’ll need proof that you own the copyright to the material. The easiest way to do that is to have the track/music video uploaded to your own YouTube account.
Content ID claims are managed by Google and can be rejected if the company finds your claim doesn’t fit their criteria, or if they believe other copyright protection tools are better suited to your situation. “These other tools include the copyright notification web form and the Content Verification Program (CVP).”
Copyright claims are a tricky business and can be a complicated issue. Stay tuned to our learning platform for more videos on the topic and check back here for future articles on the subject.
As of June 13, 2017, YouTube and ASCAP (the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) agreed to work together on identifying copyrighted works and fairly compensating creators on Google’s billion-user, video platform.
In a statement release by ASCAP “the evolution of the agreement between the two entities leverages YouTube’s data exchange and ASCAP’s vast database of musical works to address the industry challenge of identifying songwriter, composer and publisher works on YouTube, and demonstrates ASCAP’s commitment to building industry-leading data capabilities.”
What does this mean for artists?
YouTube is NOT ignoring the problem of payment for content creators. In fact, they stand to provide creators the biggest tools in identifying uses of their work online and ensuring they’re fairly compensated for that work.
This is an enormous move by the tech giant and has a good chance of attracting artists who’ve left the platform (like Taylor Swift).
Good on you, Google Inc.
For more information on music distribution (and how to get paid from it!) watch our lesson on Music Distribution.