Make money with your music on YouTube
When fans watch your content, you can get paid. Find out how to monetize your channel.
Plug into the digital music revolution
Learn how YouTube contributes to your music business through ads, subscriptions, and additional revenue sources.
A generation ago, Artists who wanted to get discovered would cut demo tapes, mail them to record labels, and hope to be signed. The labels would promote their Artists to radio stations with the goal of heavy rotation to drive album sales.
In today’s digital age, you can get your music heard in more innovative ways, allowing you to make money from both loyal fans and casual listeners around the globe. Reaching over a billion users each month, YouTube can help Artists of all genres profit from doing what they love.
Fans consume music in multiple formats and often on-the-go, including downloads and streaming. According to Nielsen, music consumption is at an all-time high, thanks to strong growth in digital services that generate revenue for Artists and labels. YouTube can help you get your music out there and earn more money.
Did you know?
- YouTube has paid out over $1 billion in revenue to the music industry from advertising alone in the last 12 months.
Monetize your YouTube music channel
Here’s a quick overview of the ways you can make money with your music on YouTube.
1. Artists enrolled in the YouTube Partner Program
As an independent Artist, you can earn money on YouTube by joining the YouTube Partner Program and using ads to generate revenue. While you focus on making music, YouTube matches ads with your channel and the fans who watch your videos. YouTube collects money from the advertisers and sends payments to your AdSense account. Note: In order to be eligible to apply to the YouTube Partner Program, a channel must have 1,000 subscribers and received 4,000 watch hours in the previous 12 months. Learn more.
There are a few things to keep in mind. In order to have ads served, your content should be advertiser-friendly. Learn more about making advertiser-friendly content. In addition, you should own commercial rights to all audio and video content. Read more about video monetization criteria.
You can also earn money from YouTube Premium subscriptions. YouTube Premium members pay a monthly fee for an enhanced experience including ad-free videos, as well as background play and offline access through the YouTube Music app. You earn a portion of that overall subscription revenue based on how much YouTube Premium members watch your content.
If you're working with a distributor or label, they may upload and monetize your music content on your behalf. If you also publish some content directly, consider joining the YouTube Partner Program to monetize those videos.
Note: Before you can monetize, your channel needs to reach 10k lifetime views and be reviewed for compliance with program policies.
2. Artists affiliated with a distributor
Another way to put out music is through third-party distributors, who can submit your music to YouTube, then collect money for you from ads and YouTube Premium.
Typically, distributors charge a setup fee and a percentage of revenue, although business models vary. In addition to YouTube, they may work with digital stores such as Apple iTunes, Amazon Music, and Google Play, allowing you to sell downloads of your songs or albums.
In addition to monetizing your videos, distributors who use our Content ID system can help you collect revenue when other YouTube videos, such as fan uploads, include your sound recordings.
Not sure whether using a distributor is right for you? When evaluating, you may want to consider fees, platforms supported, and other features that can help you promote your music career.
Note: Distributors may require that you own or control all of the necessary rights to your content. If you’re not sure about this, check first.
3. Artists signed with a record label
So what happens if you’re a signed Artist? YouTube has licensing agreements with many major and independent record labels, paying them revenue from ads and YouTube Premium. Labels collect this money based on their ownership or control of master recordings, which are the original or official recordings of songs.
After the labels receive their money from YouTube, they typically are responsible for paying a share to their respective Artists. This amount varies according to the contract between the Artist and label, and may be used by the label to recoup advances made to the Artist.
There’s no universal formula for music contracts, so you should check with your business manager or label representative. These folks can tell you how much money they have collected on your behalf from various digital music services.
Because music composition rights are separate, YouTube also has agreements with music publishers and copyright collection societies. Through these deals, YouTube pays royalties to affiliated publishers and songwriters. (Learn more about music copyright.)
Note: The information here may not apply to all situations or geographies. You may want to get professional or legal advice.
- Get an introduction to monetizing your YouTube channel.
- You will receive an AdSense payment monthly if your balance exceeds the payment threshold of US$100.
- Find YouTube Certified service providers who work with music creators.
- YouTube Premium is available to members in select countries.
Did you know?
- The YouTube Partner Program doesn't restrict where you can upload and distribute content, so you can monetize your music on YouTube and other platforms.
See it in action
Promote your music career in other ways via YouTube
Ads and subscriptions are primary sources of revenue on YouTube, yet there are even more ways Artists can make money on and off the platform. Once you have an engaged community and a catalog of music videos on your channel, explore these options to maximize your earning potential.
- Branded content. Agencies and brands may collaborate with Artists on YouTube for shout-outs, individual videos, or integrated campaigns across platforms. The rates for collaborations depend on your popularity, intellectual property, and length of commitment.
- Merchandise. Many fans love to buy merchandise from their favorite Artists. You can link to approved merch sites directly from your YouTube channel, allowing you to sell T-shirts, posters, or accessories. Here are some ways to market your merch:
- Create videos with images and samples of your merch. You can also feature fans wearing your T-shirts or other apparel.
- Share links to your merch site through cards and end screens, with a verbal call to action. Add these links to your channel and video descriptions.
- Cross-promote your channel and merch with other Artists on YouTube who have a complementary fanbase.
- Albums. Similar to merch, Artists can link to their online store or approved sites that sell their music downloads, CDs, DVDs, or vinyls. Prior to an album release, consider updating your channel branding with the album art and release date and producing videos to make sure your fans are aware of the new album. Learn more.
- Touring. YouTube is a great vehicle to announce and promote concert tour dates, because you can quickly reach fans in many markets. Here are some types of videos that can be effective for tour promotion:
- Tour trailer or teaser
- Backstage or behind-the-scenes moments
- Live streams or recorded live performances
- Artist vlogs from different tour locations
- Crowdfunding. Do you want to ask your fans to help fund your creative efforts? You may consider crowdfunding through an approved site, to support either recurring campaigns or a special project, such as a new album, musical instrument, or studio recording session.
Note: Be aware of any disclosure requirements for paid product placements and endorsements. Signed Artists may want to check with their labels to find out whether their agreements cover particular promotional strategies.
See it in action
Tap into YouTube data to drive your business
How do you know if your channel is meeting your business goals?
YouTube Analytics offers all kinds of data to help you assess what’s working well. You can find out where viewers discover your content, which videos have the most watch time, and how fans engage with your content.
When you monetize your channel, you would want to look at the various Revenue reports to address questions such as:
- How much money does my YouTube channel generate?
- What are the main sources of revenue (ads, YouTube Premium, etc.)?
- Which regions contribute the most to my earnings?
- How does my revenue change across different timeframes?
Based on the answers, you may adjust your creative or uploading choices. For example, if you notice a lot of fans for your music in another country, you can translate video titles and descriptions to make your videos more accessible.
Or let’s say you uncover high click-through rates for end screens on mobile devices. If your goal is to increase sales of merch or albums, you can apply what you’ve learned by adding mobile-optimized end screens to your new music videos.
Note: If your channel rolls up under a music label, distributor, or another content owner, access to revenue data in YouTube Analytics may or may not be available.
Music Charts & Insights
With “Music charts & insights,” you can check out a weekly ranking of the top music on YouTube. You can see the top 100 videos (ranked by view count) or a breakdown by trending videos (new music videos that were immediately popular upon release), songs, or Artists.
For instance, Artists and labels can use this data to indicate popularity of specific songs or genres on YouTube when trying to acquire radio airplay or negotiate brand deals. Or they can build buzz by posting on social media about their YouTube music charts ranking.
You can also view the locations where an Artist is most popular. This data may be valuable to route tours to cities with large fanbases, or to target marketing campaigns by region.
Note: “Music charts & insights” includes Artists for which we’ve received industry-standard metadata, typically supplied by a label or distributor. It contains data since January 1, 2017. YouTube is constantly adding new Artists and locations to the database.
See it in action