Shannon Hurley: earning money for music on YouTubeShannon Hurley thought she might make a little money when she opted in for CD Baby’s free Sync program a while back – she’s active on YouTube and has built an engaged fanbase through her years of writing and performing.

But when the payments started showing up in her account, she was taken aback by the amounts she was earning, all from simply clicking a button to opt in. “It was like found money,” she said.

Hurley is a full-time musician, and gaining access to this revenue stream without any hassles or red tape is ideal for an artist in her situation: 

“This allows me, as an indie artist, to easily license my music directly but still have complete control. I never imagined in a 1,000 years that it would be enough money to pay rent! And that’s always the goal: allowing artists to keep creating music.”

Shannon Hurley isn’t alone. We’re seeing more and more artists using YouTube as a real revenue stream from their music, and it’s growing every month. If you’re already signed up for CD Baby Sync, check out these tips on how to make the most from it. I also decided to ask Shannon how she was using YouTube to build her fanbase and move her music career forward.

Here’s her advice.

How to make money from music on YouTube

Six questions for Shannon Hurley about YouTube and independent music promotion

1. How important is YouTube in your music career, and what does it allow you to do as an artist?

I feel that all artists should have a presence on YouTube. Whether you are posting lyric videos, acoustic cover songs, or “official” videos, you are allowing people to discover you in an organic way. Putting yourself out there visually gives your fans more insight into who you are as an artist. I grew up as part of the original “MTV” generation, so music and video has always been intertwined for me. The way I see Youtube working for me is perhaps fans that already know my music want to see what I’m all about, and are interested in discovering more of my songs.

2. Do you encourage other people to use your music in their own videos on YouTube?

I don’t actively encourage others to use my music in their videos, but I am glad it’s happening. Back in 2008 when I put out a contest on to remix my “Ready to Wake Up” album, I received over 500 submissions. I think collaboration is a powerful connector and I have always encouraged that kind of relationship between fans (who are often times creators themselves) and the artists. Anyone can make music, videos, and short films these days on a laptop, and so being able to offer content that others can remix or use in a video is a great catalyst for the artistic community. I’ll get a request from an art student from Japan asking to use one of my songs for an animated video project, or a wedding photographer who wants to use a song on her website — and it’s wonderful to see that these people are finding my music and making excellent use of it.

3. You’ve had a number of sync placements. How do you think that affects your YouTube views and your YouTube income?

YouTube views/income and sync placements are definitely all related; my song “Matter of Time” got placed on “The Lying Game”, an ABC show. The show also has a YouTube channel, and they post videos of all the music played on the show. So now “Matter of Time” has been re-posted on their YouTube channel for millions of fans to hear. It really helps when a network tv show promotes the artists who get played on each episode!

4. How effective is YouTube as a tool that might direct new fans to purchase your music elsewhere (on your site, iTunes, etc.)?

YouTube is an extremely effective tool as long as artists remember to post a link to iTunes, amazon, CD Baby, etc. In the “basic info” section of your video, point to a place where your music can be found. Also put up the link in the “about” section of your channel. If you don’t do this, it’s like leaving money on the table. Don’t miss that opportunity!

5. Do you have a “content strategy” (to use a market-y sounding term) when it comes to videos?

I try to put up a lyric video for every song I release, and then also I try to make a couple “official” videos for every album. If I had more time and money, I’d make an official video for every song I write!

6. What do you imagine your career will look like 2 or 3 years from now?

By then, I hope to write and perform the theme for the next James Bond film. I’m not joking! I also want to ghost-write for other pop artists (like Katy Perry, Demi Lovato, Justin Timberlake, etc). But mostly I want to continue writing and releasing my own material, DIY style 🙂

For more about Shannon Hurley, check out her official website


How are YOU using YouTube to make money from your music? Let us know in the comments section below.

[hana-code-insert name=’youtube-promote’ /]