Since YouTube introduced its Content ID feature, most of its emphasis has been on the rightsholders that can use it to claim videos using their music and make money from ads around them.
Now YouTube has launched a new feature aimed more at the video uploaders who are using that music. “Until now there was no way to know what would happen if you used a specific track until after you hit upload,” explained YouTube in a blog post yesterday.
“Starting today, you can search the YouTube Audio Library to determine how using a particular track in your video will affect it on YouTube, specifically if it will stay live on YouTube or if any restrictions apply. You can uncross those uploading fingers now!”
It cited an example – Charli XCX’s ‘Boom Clap’ – showing how videos using that song will be viewable worldwide, but may be monetised with ads. Note the caveat though: “Copyright owners can change their policies or take action on your video that differs from what’s described here.”
It seems a sensible enough move, as YouTube seeks to better serve its creators. Talking of which, there’s another issue bubbling in the background that popped up in the media again yesterday: the risk that some of those creators may sign big-bucks deals with companies like Facebook and startup Vessel to debut their new content on those services first, rather than YouTube.
Now YouTube’s parent firm is flashing its own cash in return: “Google is offering some of its top video makers bonuses to sign multiyear deals in which they agree to post content exclusively on YouTube for a time before putting it on a rival service,” as the Wall Street Journal put it.
One source claims that “YouTube has been in a fire drill” in recent weeks, alert to the possibilities of some of its biggest stars taking their videos elsewhere first, even if nobody has yet suggested that they would ditch YouTube entirely.
The same report suggests that Vessel – founded by former Hulu boss Jason Kilar – is asking for three-day exclusives for new videos from various creators, with lucrative deals on offer for the most popular.
So what’s possibly happening here is less a drain of YouTubers away from YouTube, and more about the possible emergence of TV-style “windowing” for short-form online video.
Even so, sources tell the WSJ that YouTube “is acting with rare urgency” in response. Making Content ID more transparent for creators is a small part of its efforts, but a significant one nonetheless.