We announced earlier this week  exciting new partnership with INDMUSIC, which allows artists to make money when their music is used on YouTube.  

We had a chance to talk to INDMUSIC’s co-founder/CEO Brandon Martinez to learn how they monetized the Harlem Shake, why artists can benefit from joining the Multi Channel Network (MCN), and why they decided to work with TuneCore.

What’s your background? How did you get into YouTube monetization?

I was one of the first Digital Talent Agents in Hollywood, working on some of the initial agreements between YouTube Creators and Multi-Channel Networks, as well as many other deals on other platforms for more traditional talent.  All the while, I was a music guy at heart.  I lived in Silver Lake, right at the epicenter of some of the best music coming out of LA.  I could walk to all of the best music venues in the city and the best independent record store.

The monetization of YouTube is a hot topic right now in the music industry.  What are the biggest misconceptions about making money from YouTube?

As easy as it is to upload and share content on YouTube, properly monetizing your content and, moreover, making money from the use of your music in other people’s videos can be a complicated effort.  There are many people out there claiming to be able to help or provide tools and services, but showing no true value to artists.  Many either don’t understand YouTube or, even worse, don’t understand the music industry.  Small mistakes can cause your assets to generate no revenue at all.  Independent artists, as well as major labels, are subject to these problems.

By now it’s probably safe to say that most TV and YouTube viewers are familiar with the Harlem Shake craze.  Can you talk about how you monetized the Harlem Shake?

It was as simple as properly ingesting the sound recording, composition, and accompanying metadata well ahead of the craze taking off, as well as leveraging a knowledgeable team that could move swiftly resolving issues with claims and disputes.  The biggest issue we ran into was educating users/fans on why we were claiming portions of the music in their videos.

How do you find all the different places in which someone’s music is being used?

Despite other company’s claims, everyone uses YouTube’s Content ID system, which fingerprints our Partners’ (the rights holders–artists and labels) audio and searches for any unlicensed third party uses of the content within the INDMUSIC network.  However, we have also built proprietary technology to dig deeper and find more uses of that content.  Many of our Partners have also not properly included metadata on their back catalogue or were never provided certain information, so we’re also working to clean up that back end system, which allows for more claims and, ultimately, more revenue.

Can you explain what the MCN is?

A Multi-Channel Network (MCN) is a company built on top of YouTube’s platform, helping to better optimize and monetize content.  In our case, INDMUSIC only works with music partners: unsigned and independent artists, labels, and other creators in the music space.

How does it benefit an artist to be in INDMUSIC’s MCN?

We work on music-specific best practices to help artists build audience, increase views, and generate revenue.  What you do with a cooking video or a sports video is not the same thing you do with a music video.  And, only claiming sound recording (master rights) and composition (publishing rights) leaves out a huge opportunity to further build engagement on your channel, driving revenues even higher.

Why can artists make more money through INDMUSIC?

We only work in the music space.  We’re constantly looking out for opportunities to help our artists/labels grow, as well as listening to feedback to build more tools and offer more services that directly benefit them.

INDMUSIC is a “Certified YouTube” network. What does that mean?

Being a YouTube Certified network means that the INDMUSIC staff has attended intense training sessions instructed by the YouTube team on Audience Development and Rights Management and passed a certification test to best serve our Partners.  The best practices we use follow these guidelines we learned (me included!), but with a focus on music.


What’s the biggest opportunity for artists when it comes to YouTube?

Audience.  YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, with a rabid community constantly looking for new content.  With added strategy, any artist has an opportunity to be the next big thing (with a lot of hard work, obviously).

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