While many experienced artists are adequately familiar with YouTube Content ID, a surprising number of artists either don’t know much about it or don’t understand how it works.
What makes it incredibly powerful is that it allows you to generate earnings whenever anyone anywhere in the world uploads a video containing samples of your music, which happens much more frequently than you might assume. The best part about it is that it is entirely passive and automated, you just register your music, and a computer algorithm takes care of the rest. It is essentially fire-and-forget and not uncommon for even lesser known underground artists to earn at least a hundred dollars a month which certainly adds up over time to help finance your studio.
While it is possible to create video digital fingerprints yourself as long as you have a partnered account with YouTube or a 3rd party network, you’ll only generate a fraction of the earnings this way. This approach will only work when someone re-uploads samples of your video. However, it misses when someone uses only audio samples of your music.
Therefore, in addition, you’ll want to make sure you register your music with an authorized rights administrator who has the capability to ingest audio-only fingerprints. Many digital distributors and established record labels provide this service, but we also recommend checking out Orfium. They have a direct partnership with YouTube and offer one of the highest payout rates with no middle-man. Orfium also has a lot more to offer and is working to shake up the industry in favor of the artist. Learn more at the Orfium website.
In case you are wondering how the money is generated, an audio fingerprint is created and used to detect videos automatically that contain your music and whenever a video is identified advertisements will automatically start running around that video and the money advertisers pay for those placements flows to you. The video uploader gets to keep the video up while the advertiser's royalties go to you which is a win-win.
How much you earn depends more on the amount of views on the video, so even an unknown song could generate a significant payout if it ends up in a popular video. One common example of the type of video that gets matched is video game footage with music added to the background. The more your music is out there on the internet, the more videos you can expect to claim, especially if your music has been made available for download somewhere. It’s not uncommon to see a single song claim hundreds or even thousands of videos across YouTube each of which should be reported to you.
If you believe you are already using YouTube Content ID, just make sure there is a separate line item for it on your earnings statements and that you have access to video claim reports with links to the individual videos claimed. Otherwise, you likely aren’t getting these royalties at all. There is also a similar system that Orfium can manage for you as well.
As for Facebook’s system, it is still pretty new and largely under development but they have been under pressure by the music industry lately, and it is expected that Facebook's system should be in full swing soon.