Is It Smart to Put Original Songs on YouTube? A 2020 UPDATE


Have you considered uploading your original music on YouTube? If not, What stopped you from doing that? Today I will talk about if it’s smart to upload original songs to youtube.

Yes you should upload your original songs to YouTube, you need all the promotion you can take. Illegal downloads are an issue but 90% will pay to stream your songs, buy or use an ad-supported service. Also If your songs get pirated, which is bad it also means you’re gaining popularity which is good.

If you eventually did upload your tracks, do you sleep comfortably at night knowing that even a seven-year-old could easily “steal” your songs? If that describes, you don’t rush on removing your music from the red giant. He might be a friendly one, after all.

Lets now see if you need to copyright your music before uploading it on YouTube. How many fans you really need to make a good income and the number one way that music videos make money!

Let’s go!

You should also check out this article on “How to Monetize Cover Songs on YouTube like a Boss. But only if you want to be a real YouTube boss! 🙂

You Need YouTube as an Artist

Right of the bat, I want to say that if you are a DIY artist, you need YouTubes free promotion!

Most artists need as much promotion as possible this is especially true if you’re the beginning stages of your career! YouTube has the potential power to bring you in front of millions of people; of course, this sounds easier than it is. The trick is that you don’t need millions, you need far less. More on that later. 🙂

For now, let’s explore the two primary fears most artists have when talking about uploading their music on YouTube.

Fear no1: People Will Steal My Song from YouTube

Indeed, some people won’t hesitate to rip your songs from YouTube; luckily, this is 10% of your listeners. If your song gets ripped and gets Torrented, this means only one thing, you’re getting famous, and people love your music!

  • Think about it. If a book, course, song gets pirated, this means that there is a high demand for that product. Yes, you lose some sales, but most of us don’t want to scam the artist or engage in unethical ways. 

By the way, I’m not saying piracy is a good thing because it’s not. Piracy should be stopped, and the law should punish the ones who don’t comply. Respecting someone’s creation is an absolute must in my book!

Fear no2: If My Song Is on YouTube for Free, People, Won’t Buy My Record

The second fear you likely have is the concern that if the songs available for free on YouTube, why should anyone by the record?

Before I start building my case, I want to pause for a minute and ask you to look at what major artists do, whether they are DIY or signed with a label.

  • 99% of music artists upload their singles on YouTube; they also pre-promote their album release. So if they do it, so can you.

If someone listens to your song and decides not to buy it, then you have probably failed in creating an engaging track. Also, if someone listens to the music recorded, don’t have money to buy your songs; this is not your target audience.

Fans Enjoy Supporting Their Favorite Artist

Even in today’s streaming age, I know quite a few that purchase CDs or LPs for their collection, and the ones who don’t, they are signed up to paid streaming services. So either way, your music will find its way to your audience’s pockets just focus on creating quality music.

Create Super Fans: All You Need Is 1000 True Fans, Not Stadiums Filled with People

Are you familiar with the concept of the 1000 true fans? A thousand true fans means that you only need a 1000 people who absolutely love your music. These are your 1000 hardcore fans; they come to all your life gigs possible, they pre-order your latest album, wear your T-shirt, and know the lyrics to all of your songs. 

  • But before you find your thousand true fans, you must first find your niche. You don’t need everyone to like music since that’s not even the case with big pop stars. 

How to Find Your Music Niche

If you want to find your niche thinking ways of sub-genres, not in genres. Here are two examples: Pop is a genre, but Operatic Pop is a subgenre; House is a genre, but progressive House is a sub-genre.

  • When you focus on a subgenre, you differentiate yourself from the majority of your competition as you niche down. Again, this is a good thing because you don’t need millions of people to listen to us we only need 1000 true hardcore fans.

Three Benefits of Focusing on a Sub-Genre as an Artist

  1. You stand out from other artists.
  2. Word-of-mouth happens faster because you bring something new to the table.
  3. On social media and in your email list, you can now send targeted messages that relate to your fans.

If you can align with their interests and beliefs your fans have, you will connect with them at a deeper level. As a result, they will feel understood as opposed to judged, and they will recognize that there is a connection. This is something unique which they likely miss from major Pop artists.

Okay. Let’s explore the No1 way on how to make money using YouTube as an artist and how to protect your songs.

Making Money with YouTube the no1 Way: YouTube Ads  

Disclaimer: This is not legal advice, and I am not your lawyer.

Do you know these ads that you see on almost every YouTube video lately? (I know they’re driving me crazy); Companies pay YouTube good money for such a targeted advertising reach. 

Of course, the YouTube channel owner receives a part of the revenue that is paid per ad. This can be a steady monthly income source for DIY musicians.

  • You can also Promote your merchandise from your YouTube channel, inform your viewers for upcoming gigs, and you can even set up a Patreon.

Make Money Using YouTube’s Partner Program

If you are an independent artist, you can join the partner program YouTube offers and start making money from the ad revenue. Keep in mind that in order to qualify, you must follow YouTube’s rules, namely, you must:

  1. Follow all the YouTube monetization policies.
  2. Live in a country or region where the YouTube Partner Program is available.
  3. Have more than 4,000 valid public watch hours in the last 12 months.
  4. Have more than 1,000 subscribers.
  5. Have a linked AdSense account.

Beware YouTube Doesn’t Allow the Artist to Monetize Their Songs by Themselves

This confused me in the beginning. YouTube doesn’t allow the artist to monetize their songs by themselves; instead, you can monetize the videos on your YouTube channel but not your songs! This is a crucial distinction!

  • You need to use a distribution service that helps you monetize your songs. These services have access to YouTube’s system, plus they have experience with navigating YouTube’s policy to collect revenue and manage disputes. Most distributors offer YouTube monetization for free or a low price.
  • Lastly, YouTube needs a way of knowing if the content is original and truly yours. For this purpose, YouTube uses the content ID system.

But what is the content ID system?

Protect Your Original Songs: Understand Content ID

When someone uploads a video on YouTube, the video and audio content get screened through YouTube’s Content ID system. 

If you don’t know what content ID is here’s a direct quote from Wikipedia:

“Content ID is a digital fingerprinting system developed by Google which is used to easily identify and manage copyrighted content on YouTube. Videos uploaded to YouTube are compared against audio and video files registered with Content ID by content owners, looking for any matches…

And a direct quote from YouTube about content ID:

“Content ID is an automated copyright management system. For copyright owners who have access, Content ID automatically finds videos that use their material and lets them claim it, instead of submitting a copyright takedown notice.

Because Content ID helps locate other uploads of your song it makes you money by helping either you or the distributor to place a claim on that upload. More on that later.

Get qualified for YouTube’s content ID

Content ID is not granted to everyone. Google has a screening process that you must pass if you want to get qualified for content ID. These are the content ID rules Google has created:

  • “Copyright owners must be able to provide evidence of the copyrighted content for which they control exclusive rights.”

This means that you must provide evidence to YouTube that you are the owner of a song.

How to avoid copyright problems and prove you are the owner of a song?

It’s true that music is directly copyrighted the moment it’s created in a tangible medium such as an audio recording or on paper. Therefore theoretically, the only thing you have to do is record your song, and then it’s automatically copyrighted. But in real life, this is often not the case.

  • Once a song becomes popular, certain individuals may try to profit from it and claim that song as their own. 

This is what you should do to avoid these sorts of problems and prove that your song is original and truly yours:

1) Register your song with the United States copyright office before distributing it. (This will help you with possible legal claims).

Upon registration, you will receive a certificate of registration that proves that you are the only owner of that specific work. You can register directly with the Copyright Office at www.copyright.gov.

2) Then use a distribution service such as CD baby or Distrokit to bring your music to the world.

NOTE: It’s not necessary to register your music with copyright.gov to use a distribution service. YouTube can identify the song as yours, even if you use only a distributor. But because you can face other legal issues, a lot of artists feel more comfortable registering their songs with www.copyright.gov before distributing and sharing them with the public.

Get Acess to the Content ID System By Using A Distribution Service

Still with me? We just saw that as an independent artist, using a distribution service will automatically grant you access to YouTube’s content ID. 

  • The distribution service provides the proof YouTube needs to verify that the song that’s uploaded is original and that you are the one who owns 100% of the copyright.

YouTubes Digital Fingerprint

  • When your music is uploaded, YouTube will attach a digital fingerprint that enables them to identify and recognize your songs on their platform.
  • Each time someone uses your music on YouTube, the distributor will place a claim that takes down or monetizes that upload, then YouTube pays the distributor, and you will get paid through them.

Content ID Is for Original Recordings Only

Keep in mind that content ID is issued only for original recordings. Meaning no karaoke’s, no song covers, no remasters or sound-alike recordings, no prerecorded loops that are available for free in digital audio workstations such as Ableton Live, Garageband, Fl Studio ect. 

Also, no beats that you have leased or purchased unless you own the exclusive rights.

As you can see there is no problem with puting your original songs on YouTube.

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