Interview: Video Game Composer Waterflame on Collecting YouTube Sound Recording Revenue

January 7, 2015

Where are all of our TuneCore gamers at?! The international video game community is vast, diverse, and most importantly, plugged-in. YouTube has become an incredibly important platform for gamers all over the world to share tutorials, favorite moments, game reviews, and more. In fact, according to YouTube analytics experts Tubular, gaming content makes up 15% of all videos uploaded on YouTube!

Why is this important? Well, these videos often feature music from independent artists just like you! And while you may not be a fan of those pesky ads that get placed on YouTube vids, consider this: TuneCore’s YouTube Sound Recording revenue collection service makes sure artists are getting their fair cut!

Given that this service is relatively new, some artists (and their fans) had questions about YouTube putting claims on their music, often interfering with users trying to use their music on their channels. We interviewed Oslo, Norway-based video game composer Waterflame, who has found success using TuneCore’s YouTube Sound Recording revenue collection service and has gone out of his way to educate fans in the gamer community about YouTube claims. Wateflame is an exceptional example of a hardworking artist who encourages fans to use his music for their projects, with a system in place to collect sound recording revenue from YouTube!

Tell us about how you got into composing music for video games.

Waterflame: It started off as a hobby, just something I did for fun because I enjoyed it. I am self-taught, and made music in my spare time, (after work or school). I started sharing my music online, and I gained a following after a little while. People seemed to like my video game-inspired music. The following grew and I got better at what I did, and a few years later I started getting emails with job offers. It just snowballed from there. Today, most of my income comes from music jobs, album sales and YouTube ad revenue.

How competitive is this market? How do you market your skills for hire?

I might be one of the lucky few who has never had to ask for music work. I have been getting job offers sent to me in most cases. I think this is because I choose to market my skills by sharing almost everything I do with the video game/YouTube community.

I let people listen to and download 90% my music for free, and use it in non-commercial projects. The remaining 10% includes exclusive album tracks and video game soundtracks – music that dedicated fans want. As I keep sharing my music and make more and more video game soundtracks, word goes around, I guess!

I would still say it is indeed a competitive market, though. My prices are a lot lower than many other professional video game composers. I still have to work hard for it, but I love my job. That makes it a lot easier.

Explain the gamer community’s use of YouTube and how it has developed over the years.

I have always been a gamer, and I have been close to the video game community. I feel YouTube is a big part of why video games are such a widely-accepted form of media today. People use YouTube to share great gaming moments, review games, and even do full play-through’s of games. It helps to spread the word.

Due to the revenue systems and partnership programs YouTube has developed over the years, people can even get to the point where playing games becomes their main source of income. Now, it is almost impossible to browse YouTube without tripping over a game-play video, and if you are not into games, you might be after you watch a few of them!

The amount of time spent viewing gaming videos has jumped significantly – how does it affect those wishing to use your music in their videos?

As long as I am credited and linked back to properly, I will still carry on as usual and let anyone use my music on YouTube that wants to. Videos with my music in them in which the game company owns the exclusive rights to the music, however, is something I have nothing to do with. They decide if this is OK to use or not. However In other cases where I am still the copyright holder to a track, users need to ask me for permission.

So the jump in views will not affect the people using my music. It will just affect me, since I have to keep track of all of it.

What factors went into your decision to sign up with the TuneCore YouTube Sound Recording Revenue collection service?

I noticed that I could not possibly have control over this myself anymore. I needed some help with making sure I get what I deserve for my work – for sharing it and letting other people use it.

I also realized it helps me collect a portion of the revenue when I let someone else use my music – and that is a wonderful option to have. Before this service I would have to decide whether or not I was going to let someone use my music, and I knew I would not get any cut of the revenue. I felt there was no easily implemented system for me to do so without using my entire work day managing it.

How has the TuneCore YouTube Sound Recording Revenue collection service impacted your day-to-day work?

I have not been using this service for a long time, but so far it seems to make my job a lot easier. It has helped me regain some control over my productions floating around everywhere online. So I will continue to use it for sure.

Do you feel that TuneCore YouTube Sound Recording Revenue collection service has improved the way you collect revenue from ads placed on videos using your music?

Before this service, I had no way of doing this. I found it too complicated. So yes, definitely!

What kind of relationships have you developed with the gaming community when it comes to creating new works on YouTube?

I try to talk to my fan base as much as I can, and I meet a lot of interesting and talented people because of this. I have made friends and connections in all game-related categories. Programmers, artists, musicians. etc. I also feel it is a very direct way to talk to people that like to listen to my music.

What do you think are some of the biggest challenges facing composers when it comes to YouTube copyright claims?

Being a composer rather than a traditional music artist is a challenge when sharing your music, definitely. This is due to the fact that your music appears in video game YouTube videos and is often used for many other things as well.

One of the biggest challenges comes in to play when someone plays a game with your music already in it, and you still hold the copyright to that music. It can be hard to decide where to draw the line for what is OK use and what is not. I think some people might feel cheated when they have to ask for permission to use a song that is featured in a game-play video from a game they already paid for and own.

In some cases, this is because the company that released the video game paid for the commercial rights for those tracks to use them in that game and that game alone, along with the rights to showcase that game in any other way commercially. But the YouTube user displaying that game is making commercial revenue from a song that is not licensed for that use by that person. 
This is something I feel some people overlook.

Regardless, I am still all for sharing everything I make, and will continue to let people use my music in all kinds of projects. This is why the TuneCore YouTube Sound Recording Revenue collection service is great. It collects the revenue they should be paying for commercial use of that song – and in my book that makes us even!

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