How to get your music on YouTube Music (formerly Music Key), YouTube’s music subscription service

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Move over Spotify and Rdio. YouTube Music is here.

After much anticipation, YouTube has just announced the launch of its subscription streaming service: YouTube Red

YouTube Music, a component and app within the YouTube Red service, will let subscribers listen to ad-free music (including full albums in high quality audio) AND watch music videos — even when offline — for $9.99/month.

And YOUR music (and “Art Tracks” videos) could be available on YouTube Music too!
As a CD Baby artist, if you’re distributing your music to streaming services such as Apple Music and Spotify, your albums and singles will be delivered to YouTube Music automatically. We will also deliver to YouTube high quality album art videos, or what YouTube is calling “Art Tracks,” which play audio while displaying an image of your album cover. These videos are available not only to YouTube Red subscribers, but also as ad-supported content accessible for free on YouTube.com. Ad revenue from these videos will work the same as any other video on YouTube. Revenue for streaming activity through YouTube Red will be paid to you by CD Baby, and you’ll be able to view details in the accounting section of your member account.


As a YouTube Red subscriber, all of this listening and viewing will be ad-free, and content will keep playing even if you lock the screen, start using other apps, or disconnect from the Internet. 

Oh, and they’ll throw in a subscription to Google Play Music too, giving you access to 30+ million songs.

Are you excited about this new subscription streaming service from YouTube? Let us know in the comments section below.

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  • What time frame do you anticipate for CD Baby delivery of album art videos to YouTube? And would these conflict with the “Auto-generated by YouTube” content I’ve seen under their “Topics” groupings, do you know…?

  • Nope, it shouldn’t conflict. As for a timeframe, I’m not entirely sure since it’s a new service. We’ve begun deliveries, but it’ll take us a bit to get the whole catalog up there, and I don’t yet know how long it takes for YouTube to activate stuff once they’ve received the files. We should have a better estimate in the coming weeks.

    @ChrisRobley

    • Why did you delete my question??

      • It’s been a while since I moderated the blog (busy weekend and family illness). It’s probably not deleted, just awaiting approval. Will probably see it in a sec.

        @ChrisRobley

      • It’s been a while since I moderated the blog (busy weekend and family illness). It’s probably not deleted, just awaiting approval. Will probably see it in a sec.

        @ChrisRobley

        • Al Batross

          Is it possible to hide the amount of plays you have? and also the date the music is uploaded?

  • Maxwell

    What’s to stop people from using those ‘download from YouTube’ apps for the new service? Worrying when there is talk of complete albums being uploaded.

  • I’m not sure if I understand this. If I am a CDBaby artist (and enrolled in Sync Licensing), you will upload my songs to Youtube (music key) with cover art? Is there a way to opt-out from this?

  • Nothing, I suppose — unless Music Key has a way of blocking those apps. But, anecdotally, I don’t know anyone who uses those. They just… stream it on YouTube.

    @ChrisRobley

    • Maxwell

      Yeah, my experience of peeps using Youtube for music is that they, for instance, go something like ‘I haven’t heard Year Of The Cat’ in a long time. I’ll listen to it on Youtube.’ This changes, however, when they wish to listen to full albums. This is when they use third party apps to enable them to listen offline. Slightly disconcerting. :/

    • Dave Lambert

      I know folks that use the download apps regularly. It concerns me too. There are some that do not download so there may be a way too sot the download from working. Somebody should find out.

  • Only way to opt out of Music Key is to opt out of our sync licensing program.

    @ChrisRobley

  • Dianna Saint-Hilaire

    Super awesome thank you! :))

  • Jef Kearns

    When you create these “art videos” and someone has not opted into sync licensing with you the YouTube revenue will still be collected and distributed?

    Also, I’m already creating my own “art videos” and collecting ad revenue from them without anyone else taking a slice … is it possible to opt out of having you create them?

  • YouTube Music Key should definitely be a distribution option free from Sync Licensing program!

    This way you are leaving out musicians licensing their music for use in media. Those have to opt out “Sync Licensing”.

    Also, YouTube does not split revenue between the video creator and audio owner, all goes to the one who claims copyright on audio. So, many indie artists opt out Sync Licensing and prefer to be credited for a wider reach. This way they can get in popular money making channels in YouTube without cutting channel revenues.

    YouTube Music Key is a stream service with content coming from distributors such as CD Baby. No random user can upload a video with our songs on them.

    So, it should be a “Distribution” option, not a “Sync Licensing” option. That will be pretty harmful to many indie musicians.

    I hope you’ll be able to solve this one soon.

  • Adam_B_Harris

    Shame, I would be interested in Music key but not the sync licensing program as it interferes with my own licensing efforts.

  • Mike

    If I’m a Canadian artist will my music be played on Music Key in this beta version, or will I have to wait until Music Key comes to Canada?

  • Love it…! Well done the cdbaby team. You guys rock…! You get us in everywhere…!

  • Justice Naczycz

    So any idea on the amount of payment per play or existence of such?

  • I believe you can still hide that data if it’s a video you uploaded to your channel directly. But I imagine the answer is NO for Music Key.

    @ChrisRobley

    • Joe Bowbeer

      This is a very interesting topic. It would be great to post a follow-up.

      I hope Music Key makes it possible for the artists to claim their auto-generated Art Tracks. Otherwise, the artists are abdicating their opportunity to engage the listeners. Best-practices for YouTube monetization, outlined elsewhere on diymusician, suggest creating an artist channel, adding Cards, etc.

      Will artists be able to add Cards to these auto-generated Art Tracks?

  • If your music is approved for the US (if you’re already distributing in US and are monetizing YoUTube videos through us), then your music will be available in this beta version.

    @ChrisRobley

    • DUDE GREY

      I’m a new artist and i live in Canada but I’m not from here. How do I get my music approved for the US?

  • Oh, but I should say that the beta version is only available IN the US.

    @ChrisRobley

  • Similar to other streaming services that pay a share of revenue to rightsholders. For the paid service, it will be a share of subscription fees. For the free service, it will be a share of ad revenue.

    @ChrisRobley

  • Thanks for your input – during this limited beta period of Music Key, we want to begin by delivering music that is participating in our YouTube program first. Music Key is a new aspect of the YouTube service and you can trust it’s one we’ll want to make available to as many CD Baby artists as we can. Basically, we want to walk before we run as YouTube Music Key works out it the details of its launch. Eventually, we’d love to deliver all artists’ music who’ve elected for distribution to streaming platforms. Stay tuned!

    @ChrisRobley

    • That’s great to hear that! Thanks for the detailed answer.

  • Janette Hamilton-House

    Here we go, so when the musicians are cut down, beat up, struggling to survive, when the main outlets like the record labels didn’t pay attention after Napster, took it all for granted and screwed this music industry up big, along comes a spider that will kill you. This is exactly what the pros don’t want. Enough already, I should write a book. How many ways you can get screwed by the digital age. Get lost!!

  • If I have a motion music video for my songs, will I be able to use that instead of the static image art for my album? Having a presence on YouTube is great, but I would prefer to put my best foot forward and have a professional presence on there – especially with it being a service that people have to pay for.

    Is this something CDBaby is considering?

  • If you’re not opted in for sync licensing, your music will not be available through YouTube Music Key, and we will not create art videos. But to answer the second question, if you were opted in for sync licensing, there wouldn’t be a way to opt out of the art videos, as they’re a component of the Music Key service.

    @ChrisRobley

  • Hi Adam, would it interfere because you’re already doing micro-sync and YouTube monetization through another service? If not, it probably wouldn’t conflict at all, because we’re non-exclusive — in that you could use CD Baby to do the micro-sync and YouTube stuff, and STILL work with another licensing agency to try to get placements. (Unless, of course, that agency wants you to be exclusive with them).

    @ChrisRobley

  • Are you distributing through CD Baby and opted in for sync licensing? If so, your music will be made available.

    @ChrisRobley

  • Sure thing.

    @ChrisRobley

  • As far as I understand it, YouTube Music Key will favor official music videos first, and then fill in the rest with Art Track videos (since not every song has an official music video).

    @ChrisRobley

    • bethbetty

      I’d recommend a time delay of at least one week until Topic Art Tracks show up.

  • Christopher, once again thank you for the article… As of this point I have not signed up for sync licensing because I do a lot of covers. Technically, a different license is required to sync music to pictures. For download and streaming services I can get a mechanical license (through Limelight) and avoid haggling with individual rights holders and pay one standard fee. But Youtube is different monster legally because of sync licenses and the fact that there is not a statutory rate to pay the rights holders. Youtube is a little scary because they allow a lot of violations to be “unenforced”… i.e. the rights holders have to troll the site and ask for music to be taken down instead of not letting up there in the first place…

    But, if they add a subscription service, they are likely going to meet a lot of lawyers… because there will be a lot more money in the pool to fight over. Has there been any discussion on this?

    I am VERY excited about the tech, but I am not sure if what they are proposing is strictly above board legally. (Much like their current practices). They kind of have a “better to ask for permission than forgiveness” business model. But, that is a little scary with copyrights.

  • To be honest, the realm of cover songs on YouTube is still a very gray area in my mind (and I think in most peoples’ minds). Hopefully there’ll be some standardization across the industry for covers on YouTube soon.

    @ChrisRobley

  • Confused

    So, if I use CD Baby + YouTube Music Key: will YouTube upload my band’s album’s art tracks inside an auto-generated topic channel specifically dedicated to my band? Or in which topic channel?

    I’ve recently used another distributor (I won’t say its name, but it doesn’t exactly stand out for its customer support) and my album’s art tracks got uploaded inside a YouTube topic channel called “Various Artists”, which has hundreds (or thousands) of art tracks from different artists. I don’t know why it’s on this “Various Artists” topic channel instead of getting a topic channel specifically dedicated to my band. It makes me wonder if this is normal (maybe YouTube doesn’t consider my band important enough as to have its own topic, or maybe it’s because we already have an official YouTube channel), or if it’s our distributor who messed it up, I don’t know but we’re not happy at all about this. Maybe it’s because our artist info wasn’t on the MusicBrainz database which I think YouTube uses? I’ve now submitted the info there but our art tracks are still on that “Various Artists” topic channel.

    The art tracks are fine, it’s just this various artists topic that doesn’t make much sense to us. And it’s not like we are a complete unknown band, our official YouTube channel has over 12K subscribers. Any help or advice? Thanks.

  • It’s still so new that I’m not exactly sure how they’re organizing content, but I’ve heard that the art tracks will supplement official music videos (which will have been uploaded by you to your channel). Then for any songs that don’t have “official” videos, they’ll use the art tracks to complete the album when a user wants to stream the full album.

    I’ll pass your question on to our digital distribution manager and see if I can get more details for you.

    @ChrisRobley

    • OK. I heard back from him. He says: “Yes, your Art Tracks should exist inside your own band’s auto-generated topic channels. As for Various Artists, there is a known issue where some content is being identified as Various Artists but shouldn’t be. You should talk to your distributor who can notify YouTube of the error.”

      @ChrisRobley

      • Confused

        Thank you very much, Christopher. Finally my distributor replied and this is what they said: “This is actually a bug on YouTube’s end which they’re aware of and working on a fix for.” I hope this is true and not just a way of telling me to relax and shut up… 🙁 anyway, maybe I’ll just have to live with this Various Artists auto-generated topic thing, I guess it’s not that bad, it could be worse…

        Thanks again!

      • Confused

        By the way, this has got to be a MASSIVE issue, because the “Various Artists” auto-generated topic channel in which my art tracks are has literally one million art tracks already: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCThUpINg-JADDOHdkz_4-jw/videos and there are more auto-generated topic channels called “Various Artists” which have more and more art tracks that are being uploaded every day…

        P.S. To see how many videos a YT channel has, go to this URL replacing “Channel” with the actual channel name: https://gdata.youtube.com/feeds/api/users/Channel/uploads?v=2&alt=jsonc&max-results=0

  • Haha. I don’t think they’re sending you subtextual ‘shove-off’ messages. We’ve heard the same thing from YouTube for some titles in our catalog too.

    @ChrisRobley

  • It’s my understanding that when we get reports of sync revenue, the “quantity” column refers to ad impressions and ad click-throughs, not actual plays of the video. So Music Key would base the pay per-stream, albeit a floating amount. Do I have that right?

  • It’s my understanding that when we get reports of sync revenue, the “quantity” column refers to ad impressions and ad click-throughs, not actual plays of the video. So Music Key would base the pay per-stream, albeit a floating amount. Do I have that right?

  • Heather W. Reichgott

    I’d also be interested in having my music sent to Youtube Music Key, but I’m not going to opt into the sync licensing program because I don’t want to be used in commercials and stuff without the chance to say no or negotiate. (After all, being an independent artist is all about having a say in how my music is used.)

    Youtube Music Key sounds more like a streaming music service, which I’m happy to have my music on, and it really doesn’t sound like the same thing as offering music to be put into unspecified other projects. Unless it is?

    Like other commenters I’d be interested to know when/if that becomes an option.
    I’d also like to know how to submit actual videos that aren’t just a cover art picture. Will it become possible to take videos that I already have uploaded to my youtube channel, and port them over to Youtube Music Key?

  • I’m not sure how they’re going to do it, but I’ve heard that YouTube will favor official music videos in its Music Key service (which means, if they can correctly identify the official video in your channel, that video should get preferential streaming. And then they’d fill in missing songs that don’t have videos with the album art videos that we’ll send them. Also, right now the only way to get into Music Key through CD Baby is via our sync program, but this was just the easiest way to start the partnership and work through the processes. It may be possible that at some point we’ll simply add Music Key as a digital partner (and not a sync partner). We’ll definitely send an announcement if that happens.

    @ChrisRobley

    • bethbetty

      Hi Chris…has this been sorted out yet? I don’t like the Topic videos all popping up day of release, and distracting from an Official Video.

      • I’m not sure how much of a distraction they are. I my experience, when I search for something, they only come up AFTER the official videos, or in the event that it’s the only video containing that content. Are they coming up ahead of your official videos in a search?

        @ChrisRobley

  • I can’t see that happening. Though it would be an awesome way to engage listeners, I agree.

    @ChrisRobley

  • markf32000

    Yeah, this sounds amazing!

  • Amy

    I just noticed that I have auto-generated YouTube videos of my songs on CdBaby. I have opted out of the sync licensing program, so why is my music still being put on YouTube?

    • That’d be through our partnership with YouTube Music (also known as YouTube Red), which is included in your digital distribution to streaming services. If you don’t want your music on there, you can change your distribution preferences and we can remove it from YouTube.

      @ChrisRobley