YouTube channels will have more access to songs than ever before. Welcome to Creator Music.

Can you hear the Music Creator? It’s just around the corner.

During its Made On YouTube presentation, Google’s video platform presented its new form of monetization: short ads. That wasn’t the only product YouTube revealed at its event. He also announced an audio licensing and revenue-sharing service called Creator Music, which will simplify deals between creators and artists while generating new revenue for both parties.

Creator Music is currently in beta in the United States. It is expected to expand to other countries in 2023.

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YouTube does it for the culture (TikTok).

While the decision to run ads on YouTube Shorts is a boon for creators, it adds another wrinkle to YouTube’s complicated relationship with the recording industry. A new revenue stream requires renewing relationships with major artists and labels, and those negotiations are of utmost importance.

Music is fundamental to TikTok, and TikTok is fundamental to Gen Z culture. So if YouTube wants to attract Zoomers (and you know it), it needs to make music as accessible as possible. Allowing creators to enjoy clips containing licensed music would be an added bonus.

Creator Music (theoretically) achieves both of these goals. The service will feature a list of “licensed tracks”, which will have varying license costs. Some songs will be available for free.

To help creators navigate the confusing terrain of music rights, Creator Music will also conduct negotiations in advance. Visitors to the service’s home page will be able to find leads available for revenue sharing. If they choose to use these tracks in their videos, the resulting advertising revenue will be split between uploaders, artists and other rights holders.

A shocking announcement

If you’re wondering why artists and labels are offering these deals after years of toying with YouTube, the platform’s global head of music has an answer for you. Lyor Cohen spoke at Made On YouTube alongside Jason Derulo to discuss the benefits that will come from Creator Music. He claimed that YouTubers reach more listeners than the biggest pop radio stations, and Derulo agreed that musicians looking to gain exposure should team up with creators. “This announcement is going to shake the world,” the singer said.

“Creator Music is the future. We’re bridging artists and creators on YouTube to improve the soundtrack of the creator economy; it’s a win-win for artists, songwriters, creators and fans,” Cohen said. “With Creator Music, artists have a new way to get their music out into the world; fans can now discover the music they love on channels from their favorite creators, and creators and artists will have new earning opportunities.

Will these “new revenue opportunities” disrupt the music licensing industry? If Creator Music is successful, companies that supply YouTube channels with background music — such as Epidemic Sound and Uppbeat — could find themselves competing with the platform itself. That’s a big if.

At launch, most major artists are absent from Creator Music.

Although Creator Music users can license tracks from a number of notable artists, including Odessa and Marshmallow, they shouldn’t expect to generate ad revenue from videos featuring famous pop songs of yesterday and today. That’s because Cohen first dealt with “independent partners” when creating Creator Music.

In terms of numbers, there will be a “sufficient amount” of songs on the new service, according to Cohen. But the labels “Big Three” – Sony Music, Warner Musicand Universal music – have not yet boarded. So if there’s another TikTok trend involving a Beyoncé song, YouTube Shorts creators will struggle to make money from it.

The Big Three have beef with YouTube that dates back over a decade, so it would take a lot of effort to convince them to split the revenue through Creator Music. Luckily, YouTube’s global head of music is one of the few people in the world who can do this convincingly. Cohen had a long career in the music business, including a stint at Warner Music. YouTube hired him in 2016 hoping to normalize its relationship with the recording industry.

Cohen’s experience is a major asset to YouTube. He said “the majors are intrigued” by Creator Music and that conversations with those majors are ongoing. In the meantime, anyone interested in indie music licensing will get a service tailored to their needs.

Raymond T. Helms