We Find Your YouTube Composition Royalties. You Get the Money.

[Editors Note: This article is written by the TuneCore Music Publishing office.]

As the world of digital content grows, the agreements between the societies and digital service providers around the globe also adapt. Sometimes faster than a drumbeat.

That’s why artists, who want to collect all their potential songwriting royalties from YouTube, need someone on their team who can stay on top of all the changes and get them the most money possible. That someone is the team at TuneCore Music Publishing Administration.

We know you have questions, and we’ve got some basic answers that can help you understand how you can make more money from your compositions on YouTube.

When my compositions are in YouTube videos do they generate money?

Yes. Your compositions generate money on YouTube when your music is used in other people’s videos and on your own YouTube videos.

What types of royalties do my compositions generate on a YouTube video?

There are two types of royalties:
1.) A mechanical royalty (a.k.a synchronization royalty in some territories). Every time a song you’ve written is manufactured to be sold in a CD, downloaded on a digital music store, or streamed through services like Spotify and Rdio, you are owed a mechanical royalty. In the case of YouTube this can also be considered a synchronization royalty because the music is synchronized to a moving picture (video).

2.) A performance royalty. A performance royalty is owed to songwriters and/or publishers of a song whenever that composition is “broadcast” or performed “in public.”

An additional royalty for the sound recording is also generated, and this is a separate revenue stream from the composition royalty. (For more information on collecting sound recording revenue, click here.)

What happens to the royalties my compositions generate on YouTube?

In the U.S.:
If other people use your compositions on their videos on YouTube, YouTube will pay this money to the copyright owner (you) but only if you are represented by a publishing administrator.

  1. An administrator must register your compositions with YouTube in order for you to receive this money.
  2. One exception to this is for videos on your own YouTube channel. If you claim the compositions on your own channel, then you would receive the mechanical (synchronization) royalty directly from YouTube. Note that the performance uses for your self-owned videos would still go to the local collection agency (or Performing Rights Organization in the US like ASCAP, BMI or SESAC).
  3. In general, if your compositions are not claimed, you do not receive the money.
  4. YouTube does not pay retroactively, so you must claim your compositions as soon as possible.

Outside of the US:
ALL of these royalties are automatically paid to the various collection societies around the world, just like any other streaming service (i.e. Spotify). In most cases, without a publishing administrator you will not be able to receive this money.

  1. This happens for both the mechanical (sometimes defined as synchronization) and performance royalties.
  2. These societies pay this money to the copyright holders of the compositions.
  3. You must be registered by an administrator in their territory to receive your money.
  4. There are reciprocal agreements in place for the performance royalty between ASCAP, BMI & SESAC etc.. However, this does not include the mechanical (synchronization) royalty.

Can I collect these royalties without a publishing administrator?

Without a publishing administrator, you would only see the resulting performance money generated by 3rd party videos IF your compositions are identified by the societies. You have a better chance of receiving this money in full by having a publishing administrator like TuneCore register your compositions with YouTube and the collection societies worldwide (including BMI, ASCAP & SESAC etc.).

How does TuneCore find my composition royalties on YouTube so I can get paid?

The simplest way to explain this is in the chain that is created when a video includes a song and that song is identified.

  1. TuneCore registers the composition directly with YouTube.
  2. The composition is matched to any sound recordings previously identified on YouTube containing that composition. This process happens after a sound recording ID request has been made by an entity like the service TuneCore uses to collect sound recording revenue, or by a record label.
  3. TuneCore collects the composition royalties from YouTube.
  4. TuneCore puts the money directly in an artist’s TuneCore account via their quarterly publishing statement.

How much can I get paid?

Different types of ads generate different levels of money. A pop-up ad would generate differently than a banner ad or a commercial leading up to the video being streamed. It also depends on the viewer territory, the ad’s format, the device of the user and the user experience.

As the world of digital content grows and the agreements between the societies and digital service providers change, often rapidly, we are here for you.

With the TuneCore Music Publishing Administration team and its 100+ years of combined experience in your corner, your chances of collecting the optimum amount of money that your compositions generate on YouTube are very upbeat.