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CD Baby wants to go steady.

YouTube acts in accordance with international laws surrounding intellectual property and digital distribution, but enforcing digital rights on the platform comes with its own set of intricacies that must be navigated properly.

Today we’ll be addressing the issue of exclusivity.

The term “exclusive” has a special significance in the worlds of music and rights management. It means you’re giving one and ONLY ONE entity the right to work on behalf of your music in a particular arena (such as sync licensing, YouTube monetization, physical distribution, etc.)

There are two types of exclusivity: Exclusive and Non-exclusive.

The meaning of these terms is fairly obvious:

  • Exclusive rights are, well, exclusively owned by whoever has the license.
  • Non-Exclusive rights grant limited usage-based rights (personal use, commercial use, # of plays, etc.).

Though the concepts discussed below will be applicable to most asset types on YouTube, for this conversation I am referring to Sound Recording assets.

Two taskrabbits meet at the baggage claim…

Let’s say you have a bag you’re waiting to claim at the airport. You’re waiting and waiting but apparently it’s going to be delayed, and you’ve gotta go. You have places to be and people to see.

So, you whip out your handy pocket computer and hire a taskrabbit to come to the airport and wait for your bag. Their job is simple: Collect your bag when it arrives and deliver it safely to you. This bag has valuable stuff in it and you don’t want to take any chances, so you hire a second taskrabbit just to be sure the bag gets picked up.

Both your taskrabbits are reputable and responsible and wait patiently as the buzzer signals the baggage has arrived. With their shins pressed against the smooth railing below the carousel, they watch intently for your bag to slide into view. And there it is, slowly approaching the safe embrace of your hired hands. It comes within reach and both rabbits take hold.

Congratulations, your bag is safe! But there’s one hang-up: Neither taskrabbit is willing to relinquish the bag to the other. They were both charged with the task of collecting the bag and neither is willing to concede. On top of that, the airport officials aren’t going to let the bag leave the building until it’s clear who really owns it. Looks like your bag will be delayed.

With YouTube monetization, two is NOT better than one

Please excuse my foray into creative writing, but I wanted to illustrate the issue at hand. When it comes to administering assets on YouTube, no two administrators can claim ownership of the same asset in the same territory. Even when assets are called something different, if they share identical (or similar) reference files, there can be only one ownership claim per territory.

It’s a common assumption that signing up with two administration companies will mean twice the results, but it will only tie up your revenue in escrow while YouTube determines who really has the exclusive administration rights to the intellectual property in question.


So, do your research, find a company you like, and stick with them. I hear CD Baby is pretty good at this YouTube administration stuff… I’m just saying.

In this article

Join the Conversation

  • Kinda sorta. If you use us for YouTube monetization, it needs to be exclusive for that set of songs. If you have other songs you’re monetizing through another company, that’s fine. Our distribution services work the same way.

  • If CD Baby is showing up as the rights holder for your music, that means Content ID is working correctly, as we’re helping you monetize those songs across all of YouTube, including videos on your own channel. If you’d prefer to monetize your own channel directly, I think we can accommodate that, but you should send an email to cdbaby@cdbaby.com to be sure.

  • That’s fine, as long as you’re using each distribution service to deliver/monetize a different set of songs or territories. For instance, CD Baby doesn’t want to distribute the same song to iTunes USA as one of our competitors. iTunes will just block the song from being sold at all until the dispute is settled as to who is the authorized distributor for X song in X territory. As long as you’re keeping it all straight in terms of your catalog, platforms, and territories, you’re fine to use more than one distributor. Same goes for YouTube monetization.

  • Rob StarGlobal

    Same issue here… I produced the instrumental, recorded the song, and shot the video myself! Seeing a profit would be nice!

  • We can help you with YouTube monetization and — most likely, depending on your country — publishing administration too. Yes, we want to be the exclusive administrator of those rights on your behalf, but that doesn’t prevent you from hustling your song in other ways (sync licensing, promo opportunities, playlist placements, etc.).

    • Sir Baby De Porky

      I’m in France …

      My main concern is to keep my mind focused on composing music , not being a lawyer , a recording tech wizz , or sales expert …

      It does seem like you guys got your shit wired tight !!!

      • Haha. Yes, we try to take care of all the other stuff so you can focus on music and promotion.

  • Hi Francis,

    Distribution to YouTube and YouTube monetization are settings within your CD Baby dashboard, and part of the sign-up process for any new release. Here’s the answers to those questions:

    – if I opt to monetise my videos with CDbaby, will I be able to tell you WHICH videos I want to be monetised and WHICH I do not?

    Kinda sorta. You can opt in or out of monetization at the title level, not the track level. So if you sign up an album for monetization, all songs on that album will be included in YouTube’s Content ID program. If you had a bunch of different singles signed up, you could opt some in and leave others opted out. That being said, the whole point of monetization is to put your whole catalog of music to work, so it doesn’t make sense to me to leave some songs un-monetized.

    – will that force me to have ALL my tracks again on Youtube release with a video of the CD covers (that thing I could never agree to)?

    The delivery of Art Tracks to YouTube is part of the streaming level of our digital distribution service. If you don’t want your music available on YouTube, you have the option when signing up a new title to customize your distribution settings based on “partner.” Meaning, you’d check the boxes for Spotify and Apple Music and Amazon and such, but uncheck the YouTube box.

    The distribution of your music on YouTube (Art Tracks) and the monetization of your music on YouTube (through our sync program) are two different things. You CAN do one without the other, but again, it makes sense to me to have both working in concert.

    – can I instruct CDbaby of what kind of advertisement (ad format) I what on my videos and will that be fully respected and easily managed?

    No. Ads are controlled by YouTube (the same way as it works for Google) and “optimized” for each user. Two different people viewing the same music video will almost certainly see two different ads, based on their habits, viewing history, age, etc.

    – how much (percentage) of the money earned with the monetisation program do CDbaby takes?

    You earn 70% of the total revenue generated from the usage of your music on YouTube. CD Baby keeps 30%.

    – Furthermore I want you to to kindly assure to me that, once I keep out of the monetizing video program with CDbaby, I won’t find any problems whatsoever to manage myself the monetisation of my videos?

    Well, if you’re not using Content ID, there’s no assurances that you’ll be able to monetize your music across YouTube. In fact, without Content ID, there’s no way to monetize across YouTube — only on your own channel. But I can tell you that if you cancel monetization through CD Baby, we will stop monetizing your music on YouTube (past whatever period we need in order to close everything down properly and collect whatever ad revenue may’ve been generated during the time when we were helping you monetize your music via Content ID).