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Music Business

How To Make Money On YouTube As An Artist: Our Guide

Photograph of the blog post author, Mari Gikaru

Mari Gikaru


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YouTube is arguably the leading video streaming platform in the world today. With a reach of 2 billion users every month, it is one of the strongest avenues for music promotion, and has been the starting point for many success stories. Not only is it great for promotion, it can also provide a steady source of income for artists. Whether you are a multi-platinum selling artist or have a few releases to your name, it is possible to generate a revenue stream through YouTube. Let’s take a look at how to make money on YouTube.

youtube music

In this article, we will take you through how to make money on YouTube in 2020, both directly and indirectly.

YouTube Partner Program

The YouTube Partner Program is the most direct way to earn from YouTube as an artist. This comes with several benefits, features and eligibility requirements, which we will discuss below.

What Is The YouTube Partner Program?

youtube logo on a mobile phone

YouTube’s Partner Program allows creators to monetise the content on their channels by mainly showing ads to generate revenue. The program also comes with some additional features to help YouTube channel owners make money.

They, however, have some minimum eligibility requirements for you to be able to join the program. You should:

  • Have a total of over 4000 watch hours for your content in the past 12 months, plus at least 1000 subscribers
  • Link your Google AdSense account
  • Live in a country where the program is available
  • Be in good standing with YouTube’s policies

Once you meet these requirements, you can apply to join the program. After being accepted into the program, you can explore new features on your channel to generate an income from.

YouTube pays you directly on your AdSense account through the program.

Ad Revenue

youtube music

This is the most common method channels use to generate income on YouTube. When approved for the YouTube Partner Program, you can enable monetisation on your videos.

YouTube runs ads on your videos to be seen by people watching your content, and through this, you earn a percentage of the revenue generated by the ads. The more people the ads reach, the more you are likely to earn. 

It is important to note that you should own commercial rights to all the audio and video content you choose to monetise on your channel. YouTube also offers some guidelines on advertiser-friendly content that you need to adhere to so that they can run ads on your videos.

One major advantage of joining the YouTube Partner Program as an artist is it allows you to potentially generate revenue from all the content you upload to YouTube.

Whether it is your music videos, live performances or videos, you create to engage your fans and keep them up to date on the latest in your music.

Merchandise Shelf

youtube merchandise shelf

The merch shelf feature allows you to showcase your official artist-branded merchandise on YouTube. It allows you to directly link to a retailer website where your merchandise is on sale to your YouTube channel.

In addition to being in the YouTube Partner Program, there are some additional requirements to be eligible for this feature. You must have an official artist channel or have more than 10,000 subscribers.

YouTube also has a list of supported merch retailers that can be linked to your channel. When enabled, a shelf appears below your videos displaying your merchandise with a link directing to the purchase site. 

Once the merchandising feature is enabled, you can add links to your website, music in select online stores (such as Google Play and iTunes) and official artist merchandise directly on your YouTube videos. You can add them as cards and end cards on your videos. 

Channel Memberships

youtube membership

This feature allows viewers to join your channel through monthly subscription payments and get membership benefits like badges, emojis and other goods.

Other than being in the YouTube Partner Program, you need to have more than 30,000 subscribers to be eligible for the channel membership feature. The feature is available in select countries around the world. 

Super Chat & Super Stickers

youtube super chat

This is a chat feature that allows viewers to purchase chat messages that stand out and, in some cases, have them pinned at the top of the chat feed. These show as coloured messages in your chat feed.

The amount of time their profile picture stays at the top depends on how much they spend. The more they spend, the longer it stays.

Super Chat and Super Stickers work best if you have a high number of active viewers on your channel. You must be 18 years old to use this feature and live in a country where it is available.

YouTube Premium Subscriptions

youtube premium

Premium allows members to pay a monthly fee for an enhanced user experience, including watching YouTube videos ad-free.

YouTube pays you a portion of the subscription fee depending on how much YouTube Premium members watch your content.

YouTube Music Revenue

youtube music money

One of the ways you can earn through YouTube as an artist is by distributing your work to YouTube Music. 

What Is YouTube Music?

YouTube Music is a music streaming service where listeners can stream songs and albums from their favourite artists, and listen to entire catalogues of their work.

Google Play Music is being phased out and YouTube Music is set to be its replacement. It works pretty much the same way as Apple Music, Spotify, Deezer, and other music streaming services.

How Do You Earn Money From YouTube Music?

The great thing about having your songs on YouTube Music is that you are paid a certain amount for every stream your music generates.

You do not have to be in the YouTube Partner Program or meet the minimum 1000 subscribers and 4000 watch hours to start earning from YouTube Music.

You can start making money from YouTube immediately after you get your music on their streaming service.

How Do You Get Your Songs On YouTube Music?

To get your songs onto YouTube Music, you need to do it through a label or a distributor. You cannot upload directly. This means that you will receive your payment through your label or distributor, and not directly from YouTube.

Therefore, the arrangement you have with your label or distributor determines what percentage you get from the revenue generated.

Songs are uploaded to YouTube Music as art tracks. Once your music is on the platform, listeners can find it directly on the platform, or under automatically generated artist topic channels on YouTube (different from your channel).

However, with the introduction of official artist channels, all of an artist’s music is placed under one channel, combining their artist topic channels with their owned and operated channels.

This makes it easier for fans to access all your work in one place.

Monetising Music On YouTube Through Content ID

Did you know that you can get paid when other people use your music in their YouTube videos or upload it to their channel? This is possible, thanks to the Content ID tool on YouTube.

What Is Content ID?

youtube content id

Content ID is a system that YouTube uses to scan and detect where your music is being used across YouTube. It is YouTube’s tool for managing and protecting copyright owners of content uploaded on the platform.

When YouTube detects your music being used in a video, it shows you (the copyright owner) different actions to take. You can choose to either block the video, monetise the video by running ads on it, or track the analytics.

How To Monetise Through Content ID

content id

There are two main ways of going about this. Firstly, you can apply for Content ID directly to YouTube. If approved, you will be allowed access to the Content ID tool and other select features that come with it.

You might find this option suitable if you have an in-depth understanding of copyright

The other option (which is more simple) is to use a third-party service to manage your rights via Content ID. Most distributors and publishers will provide you with the option to monetise your tracks, and collect on your behalf.

If you are signed to a label, they will also likely follow the process up on your behalf.

Album Sales & Merchandising

album records in a store

You can use YouTube to drive sales to your albums and merch. There are several ways to customise your channel to boost traffic to your albums and merchandise.

Whether or not you have the merch shelf enabled, you can still promote links to your music and merch through your channel. 

One method is to use the description section below your YouTube videos to inform listeners on where to buy your music or merch. It also helps to fill in the ‘about’ section on your channel.

Add links to your website, your music on online stores and links to other sites that are selling your merch. You can also make YouTube videos promoting your albums and merch, encouraging listeners to buy and providing information.

Touring & Concert Ticket Sales

music tickets

YouTube is also a great place to promote your tour dates or performances, and even push ticket sales for your gigs!

Some creative ways of doing this are creating tour trailer videos, uploading behind-the-scenes footage, sharing live performance videos, and live streaming your shows. 

If you have claimed your official artist channel, you can promote your gigs and sell tickets through supported ticketers directly on your channel. This feature is available in select countries.

Paid Partnerships

youtube music

Paid product placements and endorsements are some of the more lucrative ways to earn money through YouTube. They involve advertising other brands and products through your artistic content.

These work best if you have established a large following and engaged audience for your YouTube content. You can have paid product placement in your music videos and other video content you upload to YouTube.

If your content, image and overall brand appeals to another brand, they may be interested in advertising their products through your content. 

If any of your YouTube content contains paid promotion, YouTube requires you to check the “video contains paid promotion” box in the settings.

With paid promotion on YouTube, you negotiate the pay directly with the associated brand. YouTube takes no cut from your earnings.

Final Remarks

youtube display on a laptop

So, now we have taken a look at how to make money on YouTube videos and with your music on YouTube Music!

As a platform for artists to promote and earn money from their music, YouTube is also very user-friendly. It is accommodating, allowing artists at whatever level of their career to use it to grow and earn money.

It is also possible for an artist to generate several revenue streams from YouTube using a combination of the options we discussed above, so why not give them a try?

How did you go about monetising your YouTube Channel? We’d love to hear all about it in the comments below. If you enjoyed this article, why not share it on your socials. Be sure to tag us @musicgateway in your post!

We hope you enjoyed reading and found the information helpful. Here are a few more articles that might interest you: How To Upload Music To YouTube, How To Get An Official Artist Channel On YouTubeHow To Post A YouTube Video On Instagram,

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