If you’re a musician, chances are that you’re hungry to monetize your talent. The fastest way to increase revenue? Swap getting signed by a label with uploading your tracks to YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, Instagram, and more. The key is to develop a solid marketing and distribution strategy on a variety of platforms. Here’s how to get started.
Why you need to monetize your music online
The time to monetize your content was yesterday. In 2020, Spotify reported that 13,000 artists earned at least $50,000 in revenue from monetizing their music (but complaints about being underpaid are ongoing). And in the past three years, YouTube paid $30 billion to its artists and creators. New revenue streams for musicians have also gained steam in the past year, namely TikTok.
There are other ways to monetize your music, and platforms like YouTube and TikTok may just be one piece of the financial puzzle. Most artists monetize their music through a combination of:
- Live performances
- Selling merchandise at concerts and through third-party distributors (think Shopify and Amazon)
- Sync licensing (i.e., allowing your track to be used on a TV show or in a commercial)
- Partnerships with brands
The other big bonus to monetizing your content online? Every time a user plays your track, they influence the platform’s algorithm. In turn, this helps other users add you to their playlists. More exposure equals more sales, especially if you offer digital downloads on platforms like SoundCloud.
Tips to monetize your music on the top 3 online platforms: YouTube, Vimeo, and Facebook/Instagram
If you’re new to YouTube for musicians and creators, you might be wondering: What is the YouTube Partner Program? The YouTube Partner Program has four basic qualifications that with the right marketing strategy won’t be too-too difficult to meet:
- 1,000+ subscribers
- 4,000+ watch hours in the past 12 months
- A link to your Google AdSense account
- No YouTube policy violations
In addition, YouTube Partner Program participants must live in a country where the Program is available. Participating means placing ads on your content, which in turn helps you earn royalties. It’s that simple.
Another method is creating an Official Artist Channel, which typically works well for experienced YouTube creators. To make an OAC, you must:
- Currently own and operate a YouTube channel for your band or music
- Have 3+ official releases on YouTube delivered and distributed by a music distributor or label, and
- Have no policy violations on your channel
Having an OAC also requires one of the following items:
- Be a member of the YouTube Partner Program
- Work with a label network that works with a Partner Manager
- Work with a YouTube Partner manager yourself, or
- Allow your music to be distributed by a distributor in the YouTube Services Directory
Making an Official Artist Channel also opens up pathways to offering a channel membership, which allows your biggest fans to pay fees you set to receive access to exclusive tracks and clips.
Finally, users who opt for an ad-free experience through YouTube Premium and watch your content increases revenue. To maximize your YouTube presence and draw in more traffic, check out our quick guide to YouTube for musicians.
On the flip side, Vimeo is an ad-free platform that gives artists and creators different options to monetize their content.
Musicians can get creative with Vimeo OTT to sell music lessons and offer a subscription-based service to cash in on fans who want to watch private shows from the comfort of their homes. You can also monitor who watches your music videos and when with Google Analytics.
The biggest downside? Live streaming on Vimeo comes at a cost. (Click here to check out an in-depth comparison between YouTube and Vimeo for musicians.)
Facebook’s partnership with Instagram makes it easy for artists to monetize their content on both platforms. Working with a third-party distributor like TuneCore is your best bet. When someone uploads your track to their Facebook video, you get paid. You can also earn by adding your music to the Instagram Stories and Reels library.
Artists get paid 80% of the profits, but monetizing through Facebook (and Instagram) comes with a hefty set of criteria. To participate, you must send your entire release vs. just one track.