Is YouTube still a relevant tool in the music business?

The music industry is now a digital business, deriving more than 70% of its revenues from a wide array of digital platforms and formats. The share of revenues from those digital formats surpasses that of any other creative industry. US recorded music market revenues are up double-digits for the first time in nearly 20 years. In line with the above figures, RIAA boss Cary Sherman cited research last week suggesting that 1,000 streams on Apple Music will, on average, result in a $13 payout to rightsholders. That’s 1,200% higher than YouTube’s equivalent distribution.


“It makes no sense that it takes a thousand on-demand streams of a song for creators to earn $1 on YouTube, while services like Spotify pay creators $7 or more for those same streams.”


Comparisons to other audio-only, subscription music services are apples to oranges. The music industry, argues YouTube, should appreciate what it’s bringing to the party – and stop crying foul over an unjust double standard.

Okay, so what is the best use of Youtube?

Many artists operate under a new way of thinking that cuts free from the traditional approaches that they feel limits this new industry. In a bit different perspective, YouTube is still a godsend. The model many artists and agencies in music industry are using, looks a little something like this:

  • upload and look for music on SoundCloud,
  • test and build momentum on YouTube
  • and then make money from Spotify streams, downloads and ticket sales.

You should see YouTube as a platform for engagement and to build a relationship – to pull people into your paid funnels elsewhere as opposed to it being your primary streaming service.

What if I don't use Spotify?

There are many artists that don't get to market their music through Spotify since it isn't available in some countries. As unfortunate as it is for copyright owners but it's also the closed nature of these services that could potentially result in a loss of traffic for Spotify, Apple Music, and other closed platforms to the more open platforms like SoundCloud and YouTube - where you don't need to register to listen - which makes it more user friendly.

How do I use Youtube to its maximum potential to promote my music?

If one would want to get the track really out there, then the best use would probably be to upload without Content ID [YouTube’s copyright identification system] and not set it to monetise the track, but instead give this piece of content to 'everyone' on YouTube (opinion makers and youtube platforms which break new music daily) and invite them to distribute it far and wide. Put links to (Spotify and iTunes if you can) in there and try to get as many plays as possible. The track itself could potentially be used in other videos. If it does, just make sure that uploaders credit your music through Spotify and iTunes links.

Youtube is still seen as the pivot at promoting the track and creating the buzz amongst your fanbase whilst growing it. With its expansive reach and helpful data, YouTube is in most ways more powerful than radio – which the music industry still sees as the kingmaker for hits. It really depends on the music you're promoting.

With Taylor Swift and Paul McCartney leading the charge, it’s easy to think the entire music industry is doing battle with YouTube. But with countless artists and enterprises using the site as a springboard to success, things aren’t so simple. The best scenario would be to reach a middle ground where artists are being properly remunerated and YouTube continues to grow its platform and its offerings to artists. YouTube has given many independent artists an audience and an opportunity to build a brand. And to be fair, it is still one of the best promotional tools to use.

By Andrej, edited on 05 June 2018