YouTube streams around 6 billion hours of video each month, which in turn helps generate huge profits for its owners Google, who last year reported over $50 billion in revenue. So it doesn’t take a keen mathematician to figure that a musician tapping into that tasty financial pie is capable of taking a comfortable slice of the cut.
With the help of a new music rights start-up and a large music catalogue, a musician has done just that and is now pocketing around $30,000 a month through his compositions being used on YouTube, reports BusinessWeek.
Scott Schreer is the video streaming earner in question and his biggest cash-cow is his 2001 sax-led acid jazz instrumental ‘Love Doctor’, a piece of incidental music from an online catalogue that is licensed to film, TV, and online content makers.
But while ‘Love Doctor’ could be heard in around 1,500 YouTube videos (like this short film Without A Clue), it wasn’t earning Schreer what it should, as it was being used as background music without the necessary rights being paid to the musician.
Enter New York business startup Audiam, which launches this month in America and advertises to artists, songwriters, publishers, and smaller labels that it can help them get paid when their music is used on YouTube. Parties sign up to the service for free and grant Audiam rights to license songs on YouTube, it then hunts down licensing fees on behalf of content holders by ‘scanning’ the video sharing website for videos that use that music.
While major record labels and music publishers have content deals with YouTube to collect licensing fees when their catalogue appears in videos on the website, few smaller, independent songwriters and music businesses are afforded the same luxury. Audiam aims to act as a combination of digital debt collector on unlicensed content and as a conduit between YouTube and the artists Audiam represents by taking a cut of advertising revenue.
When YouTube advertisements appear on clips with their music as the soundtrack, Audiam seeks to claim a share of the revenue on behalf of the artists and music-makers, taking a 25% of the cut.
“Let’s go find you money that already exists,” is the pitch of Audiam’s founder Jeff Price, a friend of Schreer’s who used his ‘Love Doctor’ as a test for his new start up. When they put the two-minute instrumental into their system, it discovered approx 1,500 videos that had played more than 100,000 times over 11 days in May, averaging around $120 in licensing fees.
‘Love Doctor’ along with the rest of Schreer’s 1,700-strong online music library of background music, Freeplay Music, now earns the composer an average of $30K a month from their licensed use on YouTube videos. Of course, the huge monthly wages are directly in ratio to the size and frequency of Schreer’s Freeplay Music catalogue, but it’s another much-needed revenue stream of musicians and songwriters; “It’s magic money,” says Audiam’s Price. “It’s buried treasure.”
Even if it’s just a few hundred extra dollars a month, the model presented in Audiam’s YouTube system is a welcome additional revenue stream at a time when struggling musicians are questioning the pittance that other models offer, such as streaming services pay for content, as recently seen in the public spat between Spotify and Thom Yorke and Nigel Godrich of Atoms For Peace/Radiohead fame.
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