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Demystifying YouTube Monetization

Music royalties and backyard performances don’t have to be your only sources of revenue in the music industry. Thanks to the almighty power of the internet, artists today can pull revenue from all sorts of areas in the market. One of the most powerful platforms out there is YouTube, and through the YouTube Partner Program, you can get money for views! We break down what it takes to get your channel up to snuff, and more ideas to help diversify your content.

How Do You Qualify for Monetization?

YouTube is probably the most commonly mentioned untapped resource in the musician’s toolbox. Maybe you’re already posting your own music videos, giving behind the scenes tours, or vlogging, so why not make a little money off that content while you’re at it? The steps to monetization are surprisingly simple:

  • Review the YouTube Partner Program terms.

  • Sign up for AdSense on your account.

  • Set your monetization preferences.

  • Reach the milestones of 4,000 watch hours and at least 1,000 subscribers.

The first point and last point will be the most challenging, depending on your content. In order to monetize a single video, it has to adhere to YouTube’s Community Guidelines, which includes the rules that it has to be all original content, royalty-free content, and no sponsors. The last point is reaching that hurdle of 4,000 hours and 1,000 subscribers, but if your content is in the right niche it should come easily, especially if you promote it on social media.

Bonus: While YouTube Partner terms don’t allow for sponsorships, this is why many creators you love will have their videos sponsored by outside sources. You can do this too! Partner with other artists, brands you admire, or even venues and make some cash by using your platform to introduce them to your audience.

Content Ideas for Your Channel

Unfortunately, music videos and song samples won’t be enough to make a ton of money off YouTube (unless you have millions of followers like Casey Neistat). But here’s some ideas to help pad your channel and get the creative juices flowing.

Event Performances

As a musician, the more you perform, the better you can perfect your art. But you don’t have to limit these performances to music festivals and coffee shops. Don’t be afraid to branch out and offer your musical services to events like weddings, conventions, corporate events, or neighborhood fairs. Have them recorded (with permission, of course) and let your fans see your personality under the spotlight.

You can also start a playlist on your YouTube channel that features some behind the scenes looks at the way that you manage your music career. This is a great way to share your story, promote upcoming releases and help fellow musicians by being transparent about what’s working for you. This includes any potential “epic fails” that you’ve experienced in the past too. Rule of thumb is the more relatable the content, the better fans will think of you.

Some YouTubers taking advantage of the music spotlight are Anna Akana, who’s breaking into music and coming out with her first album, and TinyMeatGang who recently announced a tour playing their own original music. Like them, you can use YouTube to build a fanbase that you can transition into physical events, giving you an audience that is already crazy about you. Plus, you make some good money on the side.

Merchandising

If you already have an established fan base that’s hungry for more, one of the best ways for them to throw money at you is to purchase your merch. There’s countless resources out there to get custom-made t-shirts, coffee mugs, beer cozies, guitar picks, and much, much more. One of our favorites is Printful.com where you upload your design and then all your fan’s purchases are made to order. No more forking out a few hundred up-front for the band t-shirt.

The first step should be to nail down your personal design, such as a logo or other imagery that will be instantly recognizable to fans. Second, ask your fans what kind of merchandise they would love. By taking advantage of these merchandise manufacturing services, you can create and distribute your merch through your online store.

Fan Patronage

If you are still hurting for change, then you need to create more value for your fans. One way you can do this is by creating a patron path for them. The most popular method is through Patreon, a convenient online service that collects monthly patron pledges for creators all over the world. Creators can set up Tiers that reward patrons for certain amounts of pledges, and these tiers often include incentives like free music, free merch, shoutouts, or behind the scenes specials, just to name a few. This way, artists and creators can receive a monthly “income” to supplement their work and help pay the bills, and fans are rewarded for their loyalty.

You make beautiful music, are a natural performer, and want to share it with the world. So what are you waiting for? Start uploading yourself to YouTube and follow these guidelines to make the most out of monetization.

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