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Is monetizing covers possible on YT?

Cyath

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I see a lot of channels with covers on them. However Google also tells me you can't monetize covers and YT may cancel your channel?

I am getting a lot of conflicting information on this...I want to do a channel covering many songs but I am afraid of copyright infringement and backlash.

Anyone can help me clarify?
 

KatyAdelson

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I moved this to the monetization forum. ^_^

If YouTube's Content ID correctly identifies the cover song, and if the copyright owner has allowed cover songs to be uploaded to YouTube with shared revenue (see YouTube's music policies: https://www.youtube.com/music_policies?o=U), then YouTube will have an option for you to monetize the cover song with revenue sharing. But, the copyright owner still holds the right to their music, and can theoretically take the cover down whenever their negotiations with YouTube change, so there still is a risk.

However, I don't know how cover songs work with initially being accepted into the YT Partner Program.
 

UKHypnotist

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@KatyAdelson @Cynath

You cannot successfully monetize a channel based on cover songs at this point in time, period. I'm going to say something now which will either discourage a lot of people, or make them very angry. For this I apologize, but this is the current truth of YouTube.

If you have no capacity to create original media, but must rely on third party content such as gameplay videos (especially if they are created after mobile games), covers of commercially available music, edits of commercially broadcast sports events, Top 10 videos (even if you create them yourself), concerts recorded from the audience (a major copyright violation), or other non-original material and media...

Don't bother to create a YouTube channel with the intent to monetize such content. Your application to the YouTube Partner Program will FAIL; and in some cases, your channel will be terminated upon review.

In October of 2018, YouTube adopted the Adsense Content Guidelines; which state that all web sites and media presented for monetization must be both original and unique to the creator, adding value thereby to the internet at large.

Unfortunately this is in diametric opposition to Mainstream Broadcast Media, which industry does reuse of content on a massive scale. But it is YouTube's game, and we have only two choices...

Play the game, or leave the site; I may well do the latter by the end of this year.
 
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KatyAdelson

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Don't bother to create a YouTube channel with the intent to monetize such content. Your application to the YouTube Partner Program will FAIL; and in some cases, your channel will be terminated upon review.
I'm not sure about the requirements to be accepted into the current partner program initially, but YouTube spends millions of dollars negotiating blanket sync licenses with performing rights organizations, so I'd imagine they won't ding cover channels too much since they are already investing so much money into them. But I really don't know.

Here is YouTube's support information about how to monetize cover songs:
https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/3301938

I will say that a few years ago it would have been impossible to monetize cover songs, but it seems as though YouTube has been really working on it. Also, any covers with karaoke tracks, or any samples you didn't create\own the rights to cannot be monetized. It also depends on what country you live in. I'm speaking from a perspective from the United States, but I think all covers are a no-go for those who live in Germany (because of GEMA, a German performing rights organization, blocking German viewers from viewing cover videos). I think this is also where the new Article 13 may come into play, too...no one really knows what is going to happen with all of that. :eek:

Covers are a mess. CDBaby (a music distribution company) wrote a pretty good article a few years back, which may just confuse the matter more, but it's good to read through:
https://diymusician.cdbaby.com/youtube/posting-cover-songs-on-youtube-music-licensing-law-explained/
 

UKHypnotist

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@KatyAdelson

Here we go again.

I'm only a Silver Level Product Expert; but if necessary, I will ask the Gold Level Music Expert Longzijun to come here and back me up. Here is the exact wording of the YouTube version of the Adsense Content Policy Guidelines. Please note the portions I have placed in bold, italicized font.

"Content quality guidelines
AdSense content policies are extensive and include quality guidelines from the Webmaster/Search Console policies. We've highlighted some of the most relevant policies for YouTube creators below.

Reminder: These guidelines apply to your channel overall. If we find that a channel is dedicated to content that doesn't meet our guidelines, the channel may be suspended from the Partner Programme.

Make sure that your content adds value, and is unique and relevant. We've included some examples of content that doesn't meet these standards, which means that it can't be monetised. This list is not exhaustive.

  • Reused content. This is content that doesn't provide significant original commentary or educational value. It may also mean that we've identified that large portions of your channel either completely match other content, or are noticeably similar. Examples include:
    • Third-party videos stitched together with minimal-to-no changes
    • Third-party content compiled without a narrative
    • Content uploaded somewhere else first
    • Content uploaded many times by multiple users
  • Automatically-generated content. This is content generated through automated processes, stitching or combining content from different sources. Examples include:
    • Synthetic voice reading third-party content
    • Content on a channel with minimal changes from video to video
    • Third-party image slideshows with no additional commentary
    • Repetitive or mindless content with no additional commentary or narrative
Note: You may be able to monetise third-party content if you have commercial use rights for that content, and you're contributing to the value of that content in some way. This can include, but is not limited to, high-quality editing, adding commentary or narrative."

My question as I give up for tonight and go to bed is this...

How many cover song video posters will have bothered to get commercial use rights prior to creating and uploading their videos to YouTube?

In case no one has noticed, one must already be monetized in order to do revenue sharing on cover songs. Revenue sharing is set up in one of two ways.

1. The uploader tells YouTube at the time of video posting that he or she is uploading a cover song. This will stave off a Content ID claim, and let the copyright owner know this is a cover song video being submitted with a willingness to do revenue sharing.

2. The uploader simply posts their video without telling YouTube it is a cover. The video is claimed under Content ID, and at the time of the claim, the copyright owner declares willingness to share revenue.

The problem is this: multiple Content ID claims will invalidate a channel's right to monetize under the new rules set in the summer of 2018. If you cannot monetize in the first place, how do you do revenue sharing??

(BTW, I have music on CDBaby, ReverbNation and DiGiDi. Through these services, I have content on most streaming and download distributors worldwide, including YouTube Content ID. I think therefore, I might know a bit about this subject?)
 
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KatyAdelson

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BTW @UKHypnotist , I do appreciate what you have to contribute! ^^ When I say I don't agree, it's based on what I've seen and learned from other musicians and my own experiences, not because of you or anything... I hope that makes sense... I've just been pretty confused about the whole "covers on YouTube" thing, too, and see this conversation as valuable. :)

Also, please note that when I refer to "covers," that I don't mean using a copyrighted karaoke track. I mean that the artist owns all of the music sounds and sampling to their version of the song, and are only using the copyrighted melody, chord progressions, and lyrics as inspiration for their version.

It may also mean that we've identified that large portions of your channel either completely match other content, or are noticeably similar.
When I read that sentence, I think of content re-uploads, not necessarily covers of popular songs. If it were to include covers, then who's to say it shouldn't include chord progressions? Most pop songs use the same i-iv-v chord progression, and therefore could be considered "noticeably similar" to each other. Take P1nk's "Just give me a reason," vs. Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours." Similar chords, same melody in some parts, different words. From a musical standpoint, they are pretty much the same song. I'd call them "noticeably similar," but both songs seem to be doing quite well on YouTube, and seem to be considered different enough to avoid big lawsuits (I think...at least I haven't heard of any...). ^^

The issue lies with understanding what is considered "noticeably similar" in music. If I were to create an Irish-folk inspired cover of a Lady Gaga song, would that be considered noticeably similar? If it is, then who decides when something is noticeably similar vs. noticeably different, and how could I make it so that it would be considered "noticeably different?" :eek:

I play mostly public domain music and have to challenge CID claims frequently. Even if it's public domain and the YouTuber owns all the rights to their unique musical version, I can see all instrumental versions of, for example, "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" to be considered "noticeably similar." Could that mean that the above "noticeably similar" statement may apply to public domain songs, too, or should it not matter since it's public domain? :eek: This gets even more messier since the years something is considered to be in "public domain" in the USA is different than, say, Japan, the EU, Canada... Yay copyright laws!

If the "noticeably similar" statement doesn't apply to public domain music, but DOES apply to covers of songs still in copyright, then I need to ask, "Why?" I can understand one song being under copyright, and the other not, but it means YouTube would be cherry-picking what it considers to be "noticeably similar" based on what songs are still under copyright. If "noticeably similar" only applies to covers of songs still under copyright, then can't they just update their terms to reflect that?

I ask mostly because YouTube is supposedly spending a boat load of money trying to make it possible for artists to monetize their covers on the platform for creators already in the partner program (https://youtube.googleblog.com/2011/08/creating-new-opportunities-for.html, and later created, https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/3301938 as I had mentioned earlier...) I would find it interesting if YouTube were to exclude all future up-and-coming artists from joining the program because of uploading covers. :eek:

Content uploaded many times by multiple users
I still read that as "one single piece of content uploaded by a lot of different people," not necessarily, "different versions of the same thing created by a lot of different people." If it were the latter, then all the "what's in my bag?" videos shouldn't be monetized since they are all pretty much the same video content idea... :eek: I think it goes back to trying to understand how similar something needs to be before it's considered duplicate content... Obviously, a cover song would be far more similar to the original piece of content than all the vastly different "what's in my bag" videos, but since it still doesn't define where that "similar" threshold is for content, I thought I'd bring it up as an example...

Note: You may be able to monetise third-party content if you have commercial use rights for that content, and you're contributing to the value of that content in some way. This can include, but is not limited to, high-quality editing, adding commentary or narrative."
I think a lot of people try to use the whole "fair use" defense for most of that, even though they aren't a judge and really can't decide what's considered to be fair use.... I could see it applying to cover songs for those who obtain a sync license, but in my experience, most publishing companies ignore you when you ask for permission. I think very few people actually obtain those rights. It requires negotiating contracts with lawyers, and most people can't afford that. I thought this was where YouTube's negotiated blanket licenses came into play. All of YouTube's negotiations are subject to change in the future, so it's always a risk to upload a cover, but their music policies (https://www.youtube.com/music_policies?o=U) do a pretty good job letting content creators know what the current licensing state of the songs are.

How many cover song video posters will have bothered to get commercial use rights prior to creating and uploading their videos to YouTube?
I'd guess very very few actually do. Most likely only those with a big name, lots of resources, and industry connections have the ability to negotiate commercial rights. :eek:

1. The uploader tells YouTube at the time of video posting that he or she is uploading a cover song. This will stave off a Content ID claim, and let the copyright owner know this is a cover song video being submitted with a willingness to do revenue sharing.
Can you please let me know where this is??? :eek: I didn't know this was a thing! I've never seen an option for me to let YouTube know when something is a cover before any monetization. The only way I was able to do that was through the Nintendo Creator's Program (different platform thing) where I physically had to tell Nintendo where the videos were. I know there's the option to monetize the song immediately with your upload, and perhaps the "this is a cover" button would be there -- but, to me, it seems wrong and risky to do that before YouTube can properly claim the copyright owner.

2. The uploader simply posts their video without telling YouTube it is a cover. The video is claimed under Content ID, and at the time of the claim, the copyright owner declares willingness to share revenue.
Yeah, that's the only way I know how to do it... so if there's a way to do it the 1st way, that would be awesome! : D

The problem is this: multiple Content ID claims will invalidate a channel's right to monetize under the new rules set in the summer of 2018.
And that's exactly what I don't understand! lol! xD Why would covers invalidate channels when channels already in the YPP can post covers? That just doesn't seem fair.. :( (Then again, no one ever said life was supposed to be fair...)

Through these services, I have content on most streaming and download distributors worldwide, including YouTube Content ID. I think therefore, I might know a bit about this subject?
Yay! Me too! ^_^ I also have gone through the whole mechanical licensing thing. That's always fun...lol...
 

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Let me get my brain awake and running Katy, and thanks for the point by point commentary! When I am "up and running", so to speak, I will edit this thread to tell you more about what I have been seeing happen on the YouTube Help Community since August of last year.

I believe you will be unpleasantly surprised; I know I was.

What I've been seeing...

1. Channels whose videos are mainly based on Public Domain Media being demonetized/rejected for "reuse".

2. Channels with music videos backed by either Public Domain or even paid license photo stock being demonetized/rejected for "reuse" even though the music was original compositions by the channel owner.

3. Channels with original composition music videos based on paid license stock footage being demonetized/rejected for "reuse".

4. Channels using RF background music, or even music from the YouTube Audio Library being demonetized/rejected for "reuse".

Adsense is now targeting licensed media which is not owned by the video uploader. It's my guess they are trying to force us to do buyout licenses so that we actually have exclusive ownership of what we upload. This is why I bolded and italicised the part of the new guidelines which say "Content uploaded many times by multiple users".

I'm very afraid for my own channel now. I've spent thousands over the years on stock licensing; and it's beginning to look like that licensing may have been in vain, as least as far as YouTube is concerned. Longzijun is of the opinion that it is just a matter of time before both of our channels are demonetized when YouTube begins it's review of existing partner channels.

If I am demonetized, YouTube will have lost an active creator; as I will allow all of my channels to go static at that point, and seek a new home for content going forward. I cannot change the way I create my videos without further violating YouTube's guidelines; as the only logical choice would be to show my entire music creation workflow. And YouTube itself says that you cannot monetize videos where software interfaces form a major part of the visual content.

I only compose digital music and don't play live. I'm also having difficulty finding ideas for hypnosis sessions which haven't already been covered by other hypnotists. I think my main channel "is for the chopping block", as the old saying goes; and it is the last monetized channel I have. The others were all demonetized in the great upheaval of January, 2018.

Addendum:

And that's exactly what I don't understand! lol! xD Why would covers invalidate channels when channels already in the YPP can post covers? That just doesn't seem fair.. :( (Then again, no one ever said life was supposed to be fair...)
It's not just Content ID claims related to covers which invalidate a channel's YPP application, Katy. YouTube and Adsense have gotten together like football team members in a huddle and decided if a channel isn't completely Copyright and Community Guidelines clean, it will fail monetization review by default.

If it is likely that the creator applicant could not have commercial use rights for every bit of content on the applying channel, it will fail monetization review by default.

If the majority of the channel's visuals or audio consist of third party content, even with proper licensing and even commercial use rights attached, because the channel owner doesn't exclusively own all of that content, the channel will fail monetization review by default.

If an applying channel has multiple Content ID claims of any type at the time of application, it will fail monetization review by default.

By adopting the Adsense Content Quality Guidelines set, the YouTube Partner Programme is rapidly becoming a clone of Adsense For Web Publishers. In the end, if this trend continues, less than 5% of applicant channels will be accepted to the YPP and monetized by YouTube. Currently about 1% of applicant web sites are accepted to Adsense For Web Publishers.

And we still have the vote on Chapter 13 to worry about on top of this.
 
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VidaDeJeremiah

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You have to get licenses to monetize, any cover you upload. Some songs are are copyright free or public domain which you can cover freely and monetize such as “House of The Rising Sun, The Happy Birthday Song, Take Me Out to the Ball Hame etc. but in order to monetize you have to have over 1k subscribers and 4000 watch hours. So if you’re just starting out it will be a while until you hit it.


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You have to get licenses to monetize, any cover you upload. Some songs are are copyright free or public domain which you can cover freely and monetize such as “House of The Rising Sun, The Happy Birthday Song, Take Me Out to the Ball Hame etc. but in order to monetize you have to have over 1k subscribers and 4000 watch hours. So if you’re just starting out it will be a while until you hit it.


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Incorrect!

It no longer matters if a song is in the public domain, or you have a license and commercial use rights. If you didn't write it, YouTube will not monetize it even after you reach the review threshold. Please read my earlier post thoroughly. And if you don't want to believe me, then go to either the now-retired YouTube Help Forum, or the new YouTube help community and have a good look around. The help community can be found by going to the address below.

https://support.google.com/youtube/community?hl=en