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DEEP DIVE ARTICLE HOW TO MAKE MONEY ONLINE TIPS & TRICKS YOUTUBE

How to Make Money Doing Covers on YouTube

Covering popular songs is an excellent way for musicians to gain exposure through YouTube.

The popularity of the song can draw people into your channel where you can show off your talent, skill, and, hopefully, your unique style.

Unfortunately, copyright is a serious roadblock to monetising this kind of content.

The music industry has been and still is one of the most aggressive industries when it comes to protecting their intellectual property, which has led to some less-than-fair policies being put in place by YouTube in order to mollify record labels. Policies such as granting copyright owners the ability to claim ad revenue from your video, even if the video contains more than just their music.

YouTube also has automatic Content ID in place, that can recognise copyrighted content without the need for a human to flag it.

This may save YouTube a great deal of expense compared to paying people to hunt through an absurd amount of video, but it can lead to problems for cover artists, such as Seth Everman’s cover of Billie Eilish’s Bad Guy. As Seth’s pinned comment states, the cover was instantly flagged for copyright despite being made using household items such as couch cushions and pots and pans.

So how, then, do you go about monetising this kind of content? Fortunately, there are plenty of ways, so read to discover how to make money doing covers on YouTube.

How to Make Money Doing Covers on YouTube 1

The Basics

Before getting into how you can make money doing covers on YouTube, it is important to have a basic grasp of the legalities of cover songs. We say “basic” because we’re not going to attempt to explain actual law to you—this is a YouTube blog, and there are no lawyers here.

The long and short of it is that in order to legally make money from a cover song, you would have to have agreements in place with the songwriters and publishers, and the licenses you would gain from this would almost certainly require you to pay royalty fees.

This may be fine for an established musician who is going to release a cover song through traditional channels, but it is not exactly practical for a small YouTube musician who is just looking for a little added exposure, or merely wants to cover their favourite song.

YouTube have mechanisms in place to remove the need for every YouTube cover to have an individual licensing agreement in place in the form their Content ID system, but this doesn’t help with monetisation and, depending on the rights holder, can result in your video being blocked in certain countries—or blocked altogether.

So, now we’ve told you why you can’t make money from covers on YouTube, let’s get into how you can make money from covers on YouTube.

YouTube Partner Programme

Here’s the good news; the YouTube Partner Programme has provisions for cover songs that allow you to share revenue easily between you and the relevant entities with little more than a few clicks.

The bad news? This only applies to songs that are part of an agreement with rights holders to enable this kind of thing.

Now, granted, there are a lot of songs included in these deals, with plenty of popular songs and current hits among them. But it is not everything, and you may find yourself wanting to cover something that is not part of YouTube’s deal and thus cannot be monetised in this way.

For the songs that are part of the deal, you will be able to share the revenue with the rights holders, and you will get be paid on a pro-rata basis.

This is one example of how to make money doing covers on YouTube, but it is not exactly a reliable method, and even when it works, you are getting a reduced percentage of YouTube revenue, which has already gained a reputation as a less-than-stellar way to get paid for your time.

The actual rate you get paid may vary, but you shouldn’t expect to see more than 40% of the revenue your videos generate. So let’s look at other ways you can earn money from your cover songs.

How to Make Money Doing Covers on YouTube

Promote Original Music

It will likely seem obvious to many YouTube cover artists since a lot of you will have gotten into cover songs as a means to bring attention to your channel and promote your own songs. This very method is one of the best ways you can parlay your cover song success into YouTube revenue.

Be sure to put your own spin on the covers you perform, however.

The goal is to draw people in with your unique style and take on the song, and then providing your viewers with a call to action like, “If you like this, why not check out my original song…”, and it will be considerably less effective if your original songs are entirely different in tone and style to your cover songs.

There is no barrier to monetising original content, so you are free to monetise an original song through YouTube’s Partner Programme, get sponsors, or do anything else you would be free to do with your own intellectual property.

Promote Live Performances

In much the same way your cover songs can be used to promote your original music, they can also be used as a means of getting eyeballs on any upcoming shows you are playing.

It is common for established musicians to make a substantial portion of their income from live performances, so it will likely be something a serious musician will want to get into regardless—especially since live performances can make up almost all of your income as a musician just getting started.

And if you’re doing it anyway, why not leverage YouTube to get more interest in those live shows?

If you go down this route, make sure you have easy to find links and information regarding your live shows.

You want your viewers to have to put in as little effort as possible if they decide to come out to see you live, so don’t force them to hunt around for the right links and dates.

If you need help in promoting your content FOR FREE, I have a great list of all the best places to share your content in my blog.

How to Make Money Doing Covers on YouTube 4

Sell Your Cover Songs Elsewhere

If you go to the trouble of creating a cover song for YouTube, don’t feel like you have to limit it to just that platform. There are many outlets to sell music digitally these days, without the need for recording deals or record labels. If you make a popular cover, giving viewers the option to buy the song or listen to it on other revenue-generating platforms like Spotify and iTunes is a great way to earn some extra money.

Of course, the issues with licensing and ownership are still there, and we would not recommend you just putting a song out there without ensuring you go through the proper channels. Fortunately, there are plenty of music distribution services out there for small artists, and many of them have provisions set up for cover songs, meaning you can release them entirely legally.

Every platform is different, and this is a YouTube blog, so rather than explaining the process, here are a few of the top music distribution platforms that allow you to release cover songs to services like Spotify.

Crowd Funding and Donations

This is an excellent method of earning money through YouTube regardless of what the actual content is because it serves not only as a revenue source but also as an endorsement of your channel.

Since people who contribute are actively choosing to do so, you will benefit from a dedicated fanbase who are more likely to want to support financially.

There are several ways to go about setting this up, with Patreon being the most prominent and popular example. There are also platforms like Ko-Fi, as well as simply accepting donations directly through a payment processor like PayPal.

If you decide to try this method of earning money from covers, consider giving incentives to your supporters. Such incentives can be as little as a thank you at the end of a video, or they can be as much as tickets to a live show, or merchandise included as a thank you.

It could also be early access to videos or exclusive content.

The point is that by providing supporters with something extra, you not only make them feel appreciated, but you incentivise others to support you as well.

Making Your Cover Videos

Knowing how to monetise your covers is a relatively small part of the battle. Before you worry about that, you should be working on giving your videos the best chance of success you possibly can.

Now, as far as the music goes, that’s all on you.

Music is a very subjective medium, and you will no doubt have your own style and genre preferences when you perform.

All you can do there is make the technically best version of whatever it is that you want to make.

But regarding the video itself, there are things you incorporate that will help you succeed as a YouTube cover artist.

How to Make Money Doing Covers on YouTube 5

Create Engaging Videos

While it is generally true that the content speaks for itself, it is not that simple with cover songs. It is not merely a matter of making great music and hoping that the quality will shine through because there are so many talented musicians making music on YouTube.

You need to do something to make your videos stand out from the crowd, and you will struggle to do that in the audio alone – take a look at my resources page for some eye catching graphics, backing tracks, and design tools.

Consider including the lyrics in your video, possibly in a fun animated way, and at the very least shoot something with you playing the song.

You want viewers to connect with you, and they are unlikely to do that if they never see you.

Be Creative

There are only so many ways you can cover a song in a way that is still appealing to a large enough number of people. And, with the amount of YouTube musicians out there doing cover songs, the number of unique takes there are left for popular songs are starting to become a little scarce.

Of course, you can always cover less popular songs, but the problem there is that less popular music means less interest in your cover song.

Don’t be afraid to get creative with your cover.

We mentioned Seth Everman’s Bad Guy video earlier on. Even though that particular cover was a comedic video, rather than a straight music video, it nevertheless generated a lot of interest for the unconventional way he played the song.

We’re not saying you should cover a song using furniture exclusively as your instrument, but looking for new and creative ways to make your cover videos is an excellent way to get noticed.

Another great example of this is Postmodern Jukebox, a channel that exclusively creates covers of contemporary songs in the style of classic genres from as far back as the early 1900s. Their videos feature a full band accompaniment with everyone dressed in the style of the era they are emulating and make for a fascinating watch.

Another example is mashups, where more than one song or style is brought together to create something new. A very popular example of this is 10 Second Songs, where the talented Anthony Vincent performs songs in the style of a variety of different artists.

How to Make Money Doing Covers on YouTube 3

Keep An Eye Out For Trends

Trend-chasing can feel a little “dirty” to some, but cover videos are an extremely competitive space, and it will take a lot of effort—and not a small amount of luck—to get established in this niche. By putting out your own take on a popular trend, you can bring new viewers to your channel.

And the good thing about this kind of viewer is they will have subscribed because they liked your take on the song, which means they are more likely to stick around.

Trends can come in many forms, such as old songs that inexplicably get a second life (see: Rick Rolling) or new viral hits that take the world by storm.

Whatever the trend, be sure to stay true to your unique style because ultimately, you want people to come to your channel for you, not a version of you that you put on once.

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DEEP DIVE ARTICLE HOW TO GET MORE VIEWS ON YOUTUBE TIPS & TRICKS YOUTUBE

How Much of a Song Can You Use on YouTube Without Copyright?

Music is a powerful tool in video editing. It can add emphasis, emotional impact, and generally change the whole tone of a scene or clip. There is a wealth of free music available, of course.

YouTube itself has a significant library of free-to-use music that you can choose from. But there are times when royalty-free music won’t do.

Whether you’re reviewing songs or you just need a particular song for your content, you’ll no doubt be aware of the minefield that is copyrighted music. You may even be aware of fair use, but don’t worry if you’re not; we’re going to get into all of that soon.

Most YouTubers are aware that you can’t just grab copyrighted music (or any content, for that matter) and put it in your video. At least, not without inevitable consequences. At best you will lose your ability to monetize that video, at worst you will get a copyright strike against your channel, and enough of those will lose your channel entirely!

So, how much of a song can you use on YouTube without copyright coming to bite you in the backside? – The short answer is none! You will need a buy a license to use popular tracks or will need to enter into revenue shares with some artists if they are part of the YouTube Audio Library. If you want music in your videos it is best to use royalty free services or make your own music.

The answer more honest answer is, it complicated – so if you’re with us, we’re about to dive a little deeper.

What is “Fair Use”?

As we’re about to get into a subject matter that strays a little close to legal advice, we must stress that is emphatically not legal advice.

Always seek the advice of a qualified law professional before doing anything that might potentially land you in legal trouble. Now, with that out of the way, let’s get into what fair use is.

Fair use is the name given to the use of copyrighted material in some instances where the use is limited or transformative. You may be wondering what “transformative” means, and you wouldn’t be alone. Inordinate amounts of money have been spent trying to find a clear definition of what constitutes transformative but to no avail.

Established examples of a transformative use of copyrighted material include commentary and criticism, such as news programs showing clips of something accompanied by commentary about that thing. Another example is parody videos.

There is a common myth or misunderstanding that you are allowed to use a certain amount of copyrighted content—a few seconds, say—and you will be protected by fair use. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Fair use covers how copyrighted content is used, not the amount of it.

While it is highly unlikely, it is theoretically possible that the use of copyrighted material in its entirety could be protected by fair use. It would be tough to justify, of course, and the less of a piece of copyrighted material you use, the easier it is to claim that you are using it for transformative means, rather than just stealing it.

It is here that the myth of using only a few seconds comes from; most successful examples of fair use on YouTube are short clips, but the shortness is not what makes them a successful example of fair use. We’ll get more into what these successful examples look like shortly.

To avoid falling into dangerous waters I always use licensing companies like LickD – I pay a small fee per track and know I am covered from all the legal potholes. Go check LickD out, they have a wide selection of popular song and chart music on their website and you can even get one track free!

Fair Use is Not Protection

The main trap people fall into when dealing with fair use is in thinking that it is some kind of protection against copyright claims or lawsuits, but this is not the case.

Fair use is a defense, not a protection. There is no one-size-fits-all application of fair use that a company like YouTube could apply to your usage of copyrighted material. As such, fair use is decided on a case-by-case basis…

…in court.

Yes, unfortunately, the only way to prove you are using copyrighted content within the remit of fair use is by going to court and having them agree with you. And, unless you have a lot of spare cash and time on your hands, the only way that is likely to happen is if you get sued by a copyright holder. Not ideal.

An unfortunate side effect of this is that large copyright holders tend to bludgeon smaller entities with copyright take-downs, knowing full well that the average YouTuber will not have the means to challenge the claim on a legal footing. Combine this with increasingly automated copyright infringement detection employed by YouTube, and you have a scenario in which it is very difficult to use copyrighted content in any capacity.

There are even instances of YouTubers creating cover versions of popular songs using household objects—such as couch cushions and doors—getting copyright claims against them by the owner of the song they are covering.

If you are struggling for places to find free to use and completely safe music – I made a deep dive video on all the places you can find music for free online.

How Much of a Song Can You Use on YouTube Without Copyright Issues?

Now that we’ve taken a deeper dive into how fair use works, we hope it makes more sense when we tell you that the answer to how much of a song you can use without copyright problems is, practically speaking, none.

The reason we say this is because the music industry is particularly aggressive when it comes to protecting its intellectual property. They are not interested in the fair use arguments and will go after any use of their music that they become aware of. Couple that with YouTube’s automated copyright infringement detection, and you have a situation where any attempt to use copyrighted music will likely get flagged.

If the infringement exists (that is, the copyright holder attributed does, in fact, own the copyright to the material in your video), then your only recourse would be to take that copyright holder to court.

It would be extremely unlikely to reach a point where the copyright holder would take you to court, however, as YouTube has plenty of mechanisms in place to protect their interests. From monetizing your video and sending them the proceeds, to removing your channel from the platform entirely.

YouTube will not allow you to infringe copyright continually, so it would take an extremely keen legal department at some music label to see you in taken to court before YouTube resolves the issue for them.

Can YouTubers Control Which Ads Are Shown? 1

Examples of Fair Use

Copying works across a variety of different mediums, including broadcast, is permitted when the use is for examination or instruction, in an academic or industry setting, as long as it meets certain guidelines. Obviously, this is unlikely to apply to your average YouTuber.

An example more relevant to YouTube, however, is using copyrighted content for quotation, critique, or review. Of course, if you post an entire album with little to no commentary, you will struggle to make an argument for fair use. The amount of copyrighted content should be quite limited, and only just enough to get whatever point you are trying to make across.

Other criteria for this kind of fair use include the copyrighted material being publicly available and the source of the content being acknowledged

You can also use copyrighted material of reporting current news, though the situations in which copyrighted music would fit into this category are rare.

Parody, as we mentioned earlier, is also a form of fair use, but this is another area where the boundaries for what constitutes parody are far from clear. Any borderline case may need to be tested in court to receive any kind of definitive decision on the matter.

The final example of fair use involves text and data mining, which clearly doesn’t have any bearing on a discussion about using music in YouTube videos.

Soundproofing Tips for YouTubers

Can You Use Music in YouTube Videos at All?

There are certainly situations where you could use music—even copyrighted music—in your YouTube videos. If you were to obtain the permission of the copyright holder, for instance, you would be legally allowed to use that music as long as you stuck to whatever terms you agreed, of course.

As we mentioned earlier, there is also non-copyrighted music or music with an open license such as Creative Commons. YouTube provides an impressive library of such music for the very reason of helping YouTubers make their content without falling afoul of copyright strikes. Remember, they want you to succeed.

Finally, you could, of course, use your own music. If you make music and you have not given the rights to that music to anyone else, you are free to do with it as you please.

How Much of a Song Can You Use on YouTube Without Copyright?

Should I Use Copyrighted Music in my YouTube Videos?

The only truly safe option when considering using music in your YouTube videos is to use royalty-free music that is licensed for commercial use.

The commercial aspect is important even if you do not monetize your videos, because you may decide to monetize them someday, and, in any case, some people may disagree with your idea of commercial. They may even be wrong, but you don’t want to have to go to court to prove that.

If you can get permission for the music you should be okay to use it in theory, however, it is worth noting that YouTube’s copyright infringement detection is something of a firehose when it comes to seeking out violations.

There are many examples in the past of YouTubers going to great lengths to obtain permission to use copyrighted material, only to have YouTube flag it as a violation.

In some case, copyright holders themselves have fallen afoul of this system. It has not been uncommon for YouTubers who are part of a content network upload a video of one of their own songs on a private channel and get flagged for copyright because their song was initially played on the content network’s channel.

It is far from a perfect system.

Can YouTubers Control Which Ads Are Shown? 5

What Happens if I Get Caught Using Copyrighted Music?

The consequences vary depending on things like if you are a repeat offender, or how the copyright holder wants to handle the situation. If you are caught infringing copyright, and it is your first time, you will likely just receive a strike against your account. Enough of these strikes, however, and your account could be removed entirely.

In some cases, the copyright holder will opt to leave your video alone, but monetize it and claim the earnings. In those cases, you will not be able to monetize your video yourself, even if the offending music only makes up a small portion of your video. Unfortunately, this is a risk you will have to accept if you want to use copyrighted music.

As mentioned above, it is unlikely you would ever see a courtroom from infringing copyright on YouTube. But, as mentioned even further above, nothing in this post should be considered legal advice. The fact that it is unlikely that you will end up in court should not be seen as a guarantee that you will not end up in court.

How Much of a Song Can You Use on YouTube Without Copyright? 1

Conclusions

The world of YouTube copyright is a bit of a minefield when it comes to knowing exactly what you can and can’t do.

The only way to be genuinely risk-free is only ever to use royalty-free music that is licensed for commercial use. Any time you use copyrighted material, even if it is as clear cut fair use as it gets, could see you receiving copyright strikes against your channel, or worse.

If you do have to use copyrighted music, however, remember the guidelines for what constitutes fair use. Only use the absolute minimum of copyrighted music required to get your point across. Make sure the focus of the video is not the content.

Even with some additional commentary, if the point of the video is very clearly just to listen to the music, it will not be considered fair use.

But, most importantly, remember that fair use is not a protection against legal action. If a copyright holder gets a bee in their bonnet about your use of their music and decides to get the lawyers out, you will not be able to hide behind fair use.

You will need to go to court and convince a judge that your use of the content was fair use. It may not be a likely scenario, but it is one you will have to consider if you insist on using copyrighted music in your videos.

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How To Use Copyrighted Music WITHOUT Getting Striked – FREE YouTube Audio Library

How To Use Copyrighted Music WITHOUT Getting Striked — FREE YouTube Audio Library // How To Use Music On YouTube without Copyright. Use Copyrighted Music on YouTube legally! Royalty Free or Music For YouTube Videos can be adding from the YouTube Media, YouTube Audio Library for FREE, all you have to do is follow the YouTube Music Library licensing rules.

How To Use Copyrighted Music On YouTube

YouTube has its very own YouTube Audio Library. This is a collection of 1000’s of royalty free music tracks, royalty free sound effects and lienced music from popstars such as Madonna, Psy, Lady Gaga and Ed Sheeran.

To use the tracks all you ahve to do is follow the requiements under the file. If there is no licence needed then you can add it without even needing to give the author credit.

#RoyaltyFreeMusic #Music #YouTubeTips #YouTubeTutorials #Tutorials #YouTube #FAQs #YouTuberProblems #StartCreating #HowTo

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Royalty Free Music For YouTube – YouTube Audio Library

Royalty Free Music from YouTube Audio Library

Want to add some cool sound effects or music to your YouTube video (or any video)? Royalty Free Music, YouTube is there for you. It has a whole library of high-quality, 320kbps audio tracks and sound effects that you can download royalty-free and add to your videos. (Or listen to in your free time. We won’t judge.)

Need some help with your YouTube Channel? Talk to us about YouTube Coaching! >>

To add royalty free music or sound effects to your video: Open YouTube’s Audio Library by clicking here or opening your Creator Studio, clicking “Create” in the menu on the left-hand side, and choosing “Audio Library.”

Now, the fun begins. By default, it’ll start you on the “Sound effects” tab. Here, you can search sounds using the search bar, like I did in the screenshot below for motorcycle sounds.

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You can also toggle by category (everything from human voices to weather sounds) or scroll through favorites that you’ve starred in the past. For easy access in the future, select the star to add the track to your Favorites. The bars next to the songs show how popular a track is.

If you switch over to the “Music” bar, you can browse through all of its Royalty Free Music. You won’t find the Beatles in here, but you will find some good stuff — like suspenseful music, uplifting music, holiday music, jazz, and more. Instead of toggling by category, you can toggle by genre, mood, instrument, duration, and so on.

(Note: Some of the Royalty Free Music files in there may have additional attribution requirements you have to follow, but those are pretty clearly laid out on a song-by-song-basis. You can learn more on YouTube’s Support page here.)

Once you’ve found a track you like, click the arrow to download it and it’ll download directly to your computer as an MP3 file. Then, you can do whatever you want with it.

If you want to source sounds for your videos outside of YouTube, you’ll just have to make sure to you’re following all the rules for sourcing them. Refer to this YouTube Support page for best practices for sourcing audio, and this one to learn YouTube’s music policies.

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