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Prep for the holidays on YouTube; reap the benefits year-round!

Aunt Sue is wondering whether she really wants to buy you that album you asked for this Christmas, the one by Sexy Demonic Wombats from Beyond the Gates of Oblivion (“SDWBGO” for short).

If she’s like most people with Internet access, she’ll turn to YouTube for a minute or two of “research” first.

Much to her surprise and relief, Demonic Wombats is a mostly harmless polka band that performs 1970’s prog-rock covers — so you’re all set. She orders the CD and everyone (Aunt Sue, you, the Wombats) is happy come Christmastime.

This is just one of countless examples of how people use YouTube these days. The video streaming giant is now the world’s jukebox, a customizable replacement for both MTV and radio, a deep musical archive, the #1 search engine for music, the #1 music discovery tool online, and much more — all available on your smartphone.

So it’s hardly surprising that artists are now earning so much in YouTube ad revenue. CD Baby pays hundreds of thousands of dollars a month to indie musicians for the usage of their music on YouTube — and the holidays also happen to coincide (not… coincidentally, of course) with a huge spike in YouTube advertising revenue.

One interesting and encouraging thing about the amount of revenue artists generate on YouTube is that people who’ve monetized their music are actually earning more from fan-created videos (also known as “user-generated content,” or U.G.C.) than from the official music videos they’ve uploaded to YouTube themselves.

[Check out our podcast interview with Josh Collum to hear an example of how one artist earned more than $200k from user-generated content.]

As I’ve said in previous articles, the modern music industry is built on a social economy. What your fans do (and want to do) with your music has real value.

No, you’re not going to earn nearly as much per usage as you might if the same song were licensed for a Coke commercial. Instead, with YouTube, it’s all about VOLUME and time (since the videos that use your music will be up on YouTube for quite a while) — and as our monthly YouTube payouts demonstrate, when your fan community is empowered to take social action with your music, you make money.

Here are 6 tips to help you make more money from your music on YouTube (this holiday season and beyond)

Making money from your music on YouTube isn’t just a holiday thing, but this busy music season is a perfect time to make sure you’re doing all you can to take advantage of this increasingly important revenue stream.

1. Sign up your entire back catalog for CD Baby’s YouTube Monetization program

The obvious early step to earning money from your music on YouTube… is getting set up to earn money from your music on YouTube!

In the digital age, your music doesn’t have a shelf life — and you never know when one of your songs will find its audience. So sign up ALL your songs, old and new.

2. Encourage your fans to create user-generated content

It’s the holidays! One of your songs might be the perfect soundtrack to someone’s ugly-sweater video Christmas card, or as the background music to a classic home movie of kids unwrapping presents around the tree.

Here are a couplr ways to get people to use your music:

  • Email your fans and let them know they’re free to use your songs for their holiday videos, wedding videos, family reunion videos, company or school projects, vacation slideshows, etc. Your songs are already in heavy rotation in these peoples’ households; might as well be in their crazy cat videos, too! If one of them goes viral, you’ll make even more money.
  • Host a video contest where you ask your fans to create music videos for their favorite of your songs. Whether its footage of a dance party, a stop-motion animation, or a bunch of kids lip syncing, these kinds of videos can add up to serious ad revenue from YouTube. Plus, you’ll get to share your favorite of these entries through your website, newsletter, and social.

3. Put your most important links at the top of your video descriptions

For any videos you upload to your own channel, be sure to include the URL to your website or preferred music store right at the top of the description. You want viewers to be able to click through without having to scroll down or hit the “show more” button. Don’t make people search.

4. Create and upload videos for ALL your songs

In addition to all the other things YouTube has become, it’s also the #1 preferred listening platform for younger music fans. Make it easy for them to hear your music. The more videos you make available, the more opportunities you have to earn ad revenue.

If you don’t have the time or budget to shoot that many “proper” music videos, you should at the very least upload simple album art videos for every song. Important: if your distribution through CD Baby includes streaming services, we will deliver Art Track videos to YouTube for you!

5. Record a holiday greeting video

If it’s not in the cards to film a video for a Holiday single or to shoot a live performance, just use the camera on your smartphone and say hi to your fans. Post it on YouTube, embed it on your website, and spread some cheer!

6. Use smart calls-to-action, cards, and end screens

YouTube offers a number of tools to enhance your videos and to drive further engagement. Be sure to explore all your options within your YouTube channel, including adding cards to your videos that will encourage purchases, boost channel subscriptions, increase views, and more. Also be sure to check out end screens!

What are your tips for boosting YouTube activity (and ad revenue) this holiday season? Let us know in the comments below.

[Take your YouTube presence to the next level with Illustrated Sound. Click HERE.]

[Photo of YouTube app in iPhone from Bloomua / Shutterstock.com]

In this article

Join the Conversation

  • JazzDude1000

    The major problem I’ve had with this advice, as it pertains to Youtube, is this:

    When you try to monetize your own video, CD Baby catches it–which is good–, but then you are forced to agree that the music is “Matched Content”; you then lose the ability to monetize your own video on Youtube itself.
    Much more money is made from YouTube monetizing your own video than the revenue generated from collecting royalties on your song!

    You must then argue with YouTube that you, in fact, own the content. You can win this argument; however, it is a pain in the a$$, and it can take quite a while to finally get it done. CD Baby, in my opinion, must work something out with YouTube to make this process easier!

  • Guest

    Interestingly, my point about YouTube monetization vs CD Baby/digital monetization proved to be too controversial for the moderators? Wow… what to do/think when truth isn’t allowed in the comments section… or, perhaps it’s just taking a long time to approve comments? Not sure…

  • Margeaux Jordan

    At the end of my music videos, I fade in a snippet of one of my other songs, adding an interactive frame where fans can click to see the next video, download the song they just heard, or subscribe to my channel! Here’s my example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPKM1Dknx_8

  • Cool. Thanks for sharing that. Do you edit that frame into the raw video file, or does YouTube allow you to kind of fly that interactive frame into all your videos?


  • Sorry for the delayed response. Holiday craziness.

    If you’d like to monetize your own channel directly (but continue to have CD Baby monetize your songs across the rest of YouTube), just send us an email or call 1-800-Buy-My-CD. We can help out.


  • Yes, just way longer than usual because of holiday stuff. I’ve been slacking on moderation duties, but … back at it! I answered your other question regarding monetization (you can call us if you want to monetize your channel directly).


  • I utilize YouTube’s new pay per view feature. My free content invites people to go to a playlist with paid only videos where they can then train and practice the techniques that I introduce in the teaser and lecture content. http://www.TheFourPillarsofSinging.com.

  • Alaster

    thanks for the post, it’s really interesting)

  • Bianaca Daniali

    Very informative article ..!! Straightforward tips on monetizing a youtube channel, wisely described in few words. I would only like to add a point to this article being Brand Promotion and Tie-Ups, which is a better way to earn these in comparison to Adsense. Big brands are looking forward to potential Youtubers to promote their brands in their videos and offers a lucrative amount.

  • Kenjee Kennedy

    Do you get paid even if you are in a country where there is no Youtube Monetization partnership?

    I live in a country which is not in that list of countries being monetized :

    I make music and want to know if I make music videos and do let my music to be used by anyone in the world, Will I get paid through cd baby?