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In the wake of Tiktok’s rapid expansion and growing dominance in the short-form video market, YouTube has felt the pressure to adapt to keep up with the shifting demands of its audience and creators.
In its “Made on YouTube” event earlier this month in Los Angeles, the company announced
several updates to the platform that will significantly impact how creators and artists alike share content and earn revenue. Among changes such as expanding access to the YouTube Partner Program (YPP), and introducing new monetization models for shorts creators, YouTube is launching “Creator music,” a new storefront in YouTube studio which will allow creators to easily access and license from a catalog of copyright protected music.
Since its launch, YouTube creators have faced a significant hurdle in obtaining permission to use copyrighted music in their videos, with the vast majority opting to use stock music instead in an effort to avoid demonetization. Amjad Hanif, VP of Creator Products at YouTube recognizes this challenge, reporting that “Creators have told us, time and time again, that finding the right song isn’t the hard part. It’s actually figuring out how to license it.”
With this new program, creators have a couple of options on how they can license the music. The first option involves purchasing a single-use license upfront, paying a fee to use the music and earning revenue on their videos as usual. Alternatively, creators can also choose the revenue sharing model which will allow them to split a portion of their video’s revenue with the artists and songwriters themselves with no upfront costs.
This announcement may come as a surprise to some, seeing as YouTube has a decades-long history of lawsuits and friction with labels regarding licensing issues. However, the rise of Tiktok culture in recent years has emphasized more than ever the importance of music in connecting creators and fans. Lyon Cohen, YouTube’s Global Head of Music, stepped on stage to discuss the potential benefits this initiative presents for artists. He mentioned that in today’s changing economy, YouTubers have the potential to reach a greater audience than even the largest radio stations. “Creator Music is the future… it’s a win-win-win for artists, songwriters, creators, and fans,” Cohen said. “With Creator Music, artists have a new way to get their music out into the world; fans can now discover music they love on their favorite creator’s channels, and both creators and artists will have new revenue opportunities.”
YouTube announced that Creator Music has already established deals with several indie labels including Empire, Believe, Downtown and Merlin. However, the “Big Three”: Sony Music, Warner Music, and Universal Music have yet to be included. Cohen mentions that “major labels are intrigued” and talks are ongoing.
Creator music is currently being beta tested in the US and is expected to launch in other countries in 2023.
“Music can power that emotional connection between artists, creators and all of their fans,” Hanif said. “We want to strengthen this by offering creators more choices to work with, while at the same time helping artists meet the fans where they already are: right here on YouTube.”