YouTube reveals its plans for ‘Creator Music’ revenue sharing


YouTube’s next expansion plans have been leaking out in recent weeks, but at its ‘Made on YouTube’ event yesterday they were confirmed, including a significant shift in the way commercial music can be used by YouTube’s community of creators.

It’s all about a new hub within YouTube called Creator Music, where people can browse a catalogue of tracks and buy “affordable, high-quality music licenses that offer them full monetizing potential” – meaning that they will keep their full share of the revenues from any videos they make that use these tracks, rather than see them claimed by rightsholders.

YouTube said that Creator Music will support other kinds of licensing too. “For creators who don’t want to buy a license up front, they’ll be able to use songs and share revenue with the track’s artist and associated rights holders,” it said. The new hub is currently only available in the US in beta, with more countries set to get it in 2023.

It’s a big moment for YouTube in several ways. First, it’s the next step on from its existing Content ID system, which according to figures recently shared by the company, generated more than 30% of YouTube’s $6bn music payouts in the last year.

That system was driven by rightsholders’ ability to claim the ad revenues from videos using their music. It’s been lucrative, albeit with some recent controversy around how Content ID works on the publishing side of things, and the potential for accidentally incorrect (or even deliberately scammy) claims.

Content ID was still an all-or-nothing affair: if a video used commercial music which was then claimed by a rightsholder, the creator of the video would lose all of the ad revenues. Fair for someone just uploading copyrighted music, but it disincentivised more creative use.

That’s one reason why there’s such a big and thriving genre of ‘play-through’ videos where people play a game and talk about it, but nowhere near the same thing for people, say, playing albums and talking about them. So, YouTube’s new system *could* ignite a new wave of creators and content around music, where those creators can get paid and so can the rightsholders.

Alongside this announcement, YouTube expanded its partner program for “Shorts-focused creators”, dropping the eligibility requirements to 1,000 subscribers with more than 10m Shorts views in the previous 90 days.

There will also be a new ‘lower tier’ of the program that unlocks fan-funding features (Super Chat, channel memberships etc) to emerging creators, whether they’re focusing on Shorts, regular videos or livestreams – or all three.

That won’t launch until 2023 though, as will a new revenue-sharing scheme for YouTube Shorts. It will see partner creators sharing a pool of 45% of the revenues from advertising around these clips “distributed based on their share of total Shorts views”.

YouTube stressed that this won’t change depending on whether they’re using music or not – the licensing costs will be covered within its 55% share. It’s also testing a Shorts-specific version of its Super Thanks monetisation feature as part of its expansion plans for the format.

Written by: Stuart Dredge