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YouTube will let creators monetize videos with licensed music

YouTube will let creators monetize videos with licensed music

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Creators can pay to license music or share ad revenue with artists

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

YouTube is working on a new program to let creators monetize their longform videos that use licensed music.

At its Made on YouTube event today, the company announced Creator Music, opening up a catalog of popular music for content creators to use in their videos without getting their monetization dinged. Creators have a few options: they can either license tracks directly and keep all of the revenue (besides the 45 percent cut YouTube takes) or share revenue with the license holders. If creators opt to share revenue with artists, their 55 percent share will be prorated based on the number of licensed tracks in their video, YouTube spokesperson Susan Cadrecha says. If they use one track, they’ll keep 27.5 percent, and if they use two, they’ll get 18.3 percent. Videos are subject to other deductions, like a performance rights fee, and the remaining portion goes to rights holders.

Using music has been a challenge for YouTube creators, who have generally had to use royalty-free music in order to keep their videos from being demonetized. Using even a small portion of a track from a major artist without permission could result in a video being blocked or a portion of it getting muted. The new program is in beta in the US and will expand to other countries next year.

Billboard reports YouTube has struck deals with more than 50 labels, publishers, and distributors, though so far, that doesn’t appear to include major labels. “Several hundred thousand” songs will be available for licensing through Creator Music, YouTube told the publication. Jason Derulo, for one, seems excited about it!

Creator Music is one of the biggest announcements coming out of YouTube’s event today and another play by YouTube to try to entice creators to the platform. Last week, the company said it was overhauling how people make money on Shorts, the platform’s TikTok clone, doing away with the creator fund and instead beginning an ad revenue sharing program to compete with TikTok. Shorts creators will get 45 percent of revenue, with YouTube keeping 55 percent — the inverse of the revenue share for longform videos.

Update September 21st 9:16AM ET: Updated to include additional details about revenue sharing.

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