How To Get Paid from New Music-Streaming Services
Originally published in Emusician | April 2, 2016 by BY MARKKUS ROVITO
You may have noticed that everyone’s jumping on the $10-a-month bandwagon lately. In the case of the new SoundCloud Go listener subscription, it may be a do-or-die attempt to better profit off of the 175 million monthly SoundCloud listeners. On the other hand, the recent YouTube Red subscription feels more like a “why not?” value-added service for a site that’s already dominating the Internet.
No matter the motivation, more and more media services are looking for your monthly patronage. There has to be a ceiling to how many $10-a-month dings people are willing to subject their bank accounts to, and by extension, how many companies can be Netflix-level successes with the subscription model. However, it will take time to suss that out, and in the meanwhile, musicians like you can and probably should attempt to profit off all the new revenue opportunities that this competition and innovation in the streaming space are creating.
So here’s more info on how to benefit from YouTube Red, SoundCloud Go and Apple Music’s new partnership with Dubset, which allows DJ mixes, unofficial remixes and mashups to stream on the service with the permission of all the rights holders.
Don’t panic about losing all your hours of YouTube rabbit holes when you should be making music and/or bettering yourself. The free YouTube as we know it will not change with the advent of the $9.99/month YouTube Red service. Rather, this is a value-added charge. Subscribers will get ad-free viewing and access to Red-only original shows and movies on all platforms, and on iOS/Android devices, they’ll get offline viewing and the ability to listen to videos with the screen turned off.
Okay, bully for them, but how does that affect music creators? According to YouTube’s information about YouTube Red and the the YouTube Partner Program, “YouTube Red will play an important role in expanding user engagement on YouTube and provide you with an additional way to get paid for the content you’re already creating. And while it’ll take time to build a significant membership base, we’re confident that as membership grows, YouTube Red will begin to deliver more and more value to you.”
Other FAQ answers go on to say, “YouTube Red provides a secondary revenue stream for creators in addition to what you’re already earning today through ads.”
“Subscription revenue payments will be sent at the beginning of each month, at the same time you would normally receive ad revenue payments.”
So if you’re not already posting your music and other fan engagement videos to YouTube, not only is it a good to start, but you also need to join the Partner Program.
As a YouTube Partner, you’ll be able to collect ad revenue, sell or rent videos, as well as benefit from new initiative like YouTube Red and Fan Funding, which basically seems to be a donation system similar to what Twitch uses for its live streaming broadcasters.
If you own the rights to your music, you’re also encouraged to get into the Content ID system (or get your label/publisher to add you), after which you can allow fans to create derivative videos using your music, and share in the revenue derived from them.
SoundCloud made headlines in mid-March for inking the final major-label deal it needed to launch a paid streaming service with all the major labels onboard. Now that paid service, SoundCloud Go, is already available (in the USA only for now).
Similar to YouTube Red, the free SoundCloud experience people have used to this point won’t change, but SoundCloud Go subscribers will have access to a lot of more music from the major and other labels SoundCloud has licensed, as well as offline play and ad-free listening. SoundCloud Go also costs $9.99/month or $4.99/month to creators who are already signed up for a Pro Unlimited uploading account.
As a creator, you can choose whether SoundCloud Go subscribers have offline access to each of your tracks. You’ll still get credit for their offline listens in your stats.
The company has also added the Pulse app dedicated to SoundCloud creators, and the On SoundCloud creator partner program. Currently, to become a Premier Partner and earn revenue for your music off of ads and Soundcloud Go subs, you have to apply, which means it’s probably not going to happen yet unless you’re a pretty huge player. However, in a recent email, SoundCloud claimed that “eventually, everyone will have the opportunity to earn money from their SoundCloud presence via our creator partner program On SoundCloud.”
However, the folks at Premier Sound Bank have alerted us that along with their partners at Rightsify, you can apply for their SoundCloud Monetization Service. If approved, you’ll keep 80% of your monthly royalties generated. The trade-off seems to be that if you hold out for SoundCloud to open up monetization to everyone, you may be able to keep 100% of your royalties. So choose carefully.
Apple Music and Dubset
One of the real sticky wickets since the democratization of music production and Internet distribution became factors has been the explosion of unofficial remixes, mash-ups and DJ mixes, as well as the on-and-off efforts by the powers that be to delegitimize them and remove them from many sites. However, Dubset Media, a self-described music industry technology solutions company, estimates that both the original artists and labels, as well as the producers and DJs making derivative works from them, are leaving potential millions from streaming revenue on the table by not monetizing these works.
Clearly, trying to ignore or stop the popularity of bootleg remixes, mash-ups and DJ mixes is not going to work. Dubset cites estimates that the traditional music distribution system releases 20,000 tracks per day, while there are 300,000 user-generated tracks posted online per day, most of which could not previously get to legal music services.
Dubset plans to change all that, and Apple Music has become its first major streaming partner in doing so. During SXSW Interactive, Apple announced that it has partnered with Dubset to stream a certain amount of unofficial remixes, mash-ups and DJ mixes to stream over Apple Music. We don’t know yet if Apple will allow all of Dubset’s approved content on its service, or if it will have exclusive access to it, but this is an exciting development for a huge amount of electronic musicians and producers who have this kind of music in their catalog. It also seems likely that other streaming services will want to jump on a partnership with Dubset if they’re allowed to.
Using a technology it’s calling MixBank, Dubset identifies all the content owners present in a remix/mash-up/DJ mix and matches them up with the permissions that labels, publishers and other rights holders have issued. If the derivative work is cleared for distribution, it gets sent out to the music services of the uploader’s choice (Apple Music is the only major one available for now). If or when there are royalties due, Dubset distributes them with a cut going to all the rights holders, as well as the uploader (you, the DJ/producer).
You can sign up at MixBank to get started right away. There’s no guarantee that you’ll be approved for the program, but I for one am very excited and pleased with this development. Hopefully, this will be the beginning of a long-term solution for remixers and DJs to produce the musical works they love, to give fans a legitimized way to acquire them, and to compensate the original creators in a way that most of them deem to be fair.
Certain artists and labels have well publicized their unrest for Spotify’s low rates of compensation, and that’s for the music-streaming giant that Billboard reported in February had passed 30 million subscribers, compared to Apple Music’s 11 million subscribers. With YouTube Red and SoundCloud Go just getting started, it will probably take quite some time for the revenues you see from any of the above initiatives to grow beyond micro-payments.
Yet micro-payments seem to be the future of the music business. Woe be to those who try to turn back the tide of momentum, and the momentum of music consumption has swung definitively in the direction of streaming and subscriptions—in other words, “renting” access to music, rather than buying it. This may be a case of joining them because you can’t beat them. So will you join these emerging services?