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YouTube Inks Deal to Pay More Royalties to Indie Songwriters

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In huge news just announced, YouTube is offering all music publishers the opportunity to secure sync licensing revenue from user-generated content uploaded to the Youtube platform.   The deal, which was brokered by the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) and will be administered by the Harry Fox Agency (HFA),  is open to all publishers regardless of affiliation with NMPA or HFA.

This means, for the first time, independent publishers will be able to collect sync licensing fees from the largest online music service. In short: more money for songwriters.

For all songs covered under the agreement, Youtube will pay 15% of net ad revenue when the video incorporates a sound recording (i.e. a user-generated lip sync video) and 50% of net ad revenue for user-generated cover recordings. Estimates for YouTube’s ad revenue range between $1 billion and $2 billion – up significantly from 2010 revenue estimates of $450M-500M.

This new agreement doesn’t affect public performance income, which means it’s in addition to what ASCAP, BMI and SESAC are already collecting.

The deal between YouTube and HFA is awesome for Songtrust clients. As a member the NMPA and through our affiliation with HFA, Songtrust ensures that our members’ songs are eligible to receive these royalties.  We also correctly register and monitor payments, streamlining the process of collecting your royalties from Youtube.

To read full details of the deal, click here. If you’ve got any specific questions about the deal and how it affects you, hit us up in the comments below!


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33 thoughts on “YouTube Inks Deal to Pay More Royalties to Indie Songwriters

  1. How does this affect people with a Creative Commons license like me (or at least those of us with the noncommercial condition)? Does this mean I get the royalties or not?

    My Creative Commons license is BY-NC 3.0 Unported:

    1. Hey Samuel! We believe that content creators with a Creative Commons license will not be able to claim royalties. Creative commons allows others to remix, re-record, edit, make derivative works of your songs without permission. There’s more info at YouTube’s Creative Commons page:

      1. Actually, I think you’re missing the point. Those videos have a CC BY license, but I wasn’t talking about that. I do have a Creative Commons license, true. But I also have a creative commons license with a non-commercial clause meaning they cannot make videos for commercial purposes. I think this means that if someone is using my music in a commercial advertisement or a commercial program, I’m entitled to royalties. Otherwise, I’m not. Is that the case?

        1. Looking at the Creative Commons license you have, it looks like if someone uses your music in a commercial advertisement or a commercial program (whether it’s distributed on Youtube or another platform) they would have to secure your permission first.  You would be able to negotiate a sync license agreement with them for the use of your song and would then subsequently be entitled to royalties based on which platform it was distributed on.

  2. I have another question. What if for future works of mine, I were to change my creative commons license to BY-NC-ND (Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivatives)?

    The license is here:

    This means that nobody could make derivative works of mine without my permission. If I switch licenses, would I get royalties for those works licensed with this license?

  3. I keep telling people that youtube is the future for online music video. Music licensing will also get bigger as well. It will be interesting how this will affect music on youtube in years to come.

  4. […] biggest story for songwriters with a strong digital presence was a settlement between the NMPA and Youtube, which will gives independent publishers the secure sync licensing revenue from user-generated […]

  5. i have just started my independent publishing company.  i understand that there is a deadline of Jan 16, 2012 to join the youtube licencing deal.  can my publishing company and me as a songwriter be part of the youtube licencing offer in the future if i join songtrust?

    1. Hey there! Anyone joining Songtrust will be able to collect royalties from YouTube via HFA (Harry Fox Agency).

      1. Even after the Jan 16 2012 deadline ?

          1. thank you.

  6. I have a video with one of my songs that has 38000+ plays. Is songtrust already collecting for this?

    1. Hey there! HFA has a licensing agreement with YouTube. As a Songtrust client, we make sure that your songs are registered at HFA – as well as your PRO (ASCAP/BMI/SESAC).

      1. Great, just so I understand…since I have been with Songtrust before the video started getting plays it will be counted and there is nothing I need to do to be sure my song is recognized?

        1. The HFA deal relates specifically to the use of your music by other people – e.g. cover, lip syncs.

  7. “15% of net ad revenue” that’s better than nothing but doesn’t keeping 85% plus costs for just hosting a video seem a bit unfair?

  8. I just joined songtrust. Prior to my joining, I have songs on youtube that have several million views collectively. Am I entitled to those royalty collections as well?

  9. What about people who want to do youtube videos for cover songs, vs. release the rights to other people to cover them? Does this agreement “cover” (pun intended) people who do cover songs online?

  10. if i’m registered with bmi as a songwriter/composer and they track my music ,would that cause conflict if i sign up with you ?

  11. Will new artists signing up for songtrust be able to collect royalties from you tube ?

    1. Yes indeed. This deadline was to be eligible for the initial advance YouTube paid to publishers.

  12. […] YouTube Inks Deal to Pay More Royalties to Indie Songwriters | Songtrust. QR Code – Take this post Mobile! var uri=window.location.href;document.write(""); […]

  13. Hey SongTrust. So if I am not yet affiliated with HFA but I am affiliated with Song Trust, should I opt in as a HFA affiliated Publisher or or affiliate directly to youtube? Thanks in advance for you response. 

  14. Hello, is this sync license what I need to be able to post my song to youtube with a still of the cover art only? The song contains original and licensed content. Thanks! 

  15. […] on Like this:LikeBe the first to like […]

  16. is this a real site/ can yall really b trusted… and will you sell my rights to record labels cuz this a big step for me.. and i neva herd of your company before

  17. can songtrust be trusted to really work for me ?

  18. I put my video on YouTube on Feb 16, 2014 and left it on my YouTube account until Feb 24, 2014 Shadows no more © 2012 lidloveslyrics which I sang my song and got 24 hits but my voice did not match my mouth (it looked like I was lip sinking) but that was really me. I did the video on my Apple at home and had my keyboard in the back ground. Technical problem maybe. I plan on redoing it. I think its time for me to join a group but which one?

  19. Follow Corey V Perry on reverbnatio/twitter/ig/fb/soundcloud that boy is a genius

  20. Hey very interesting. Just want to give you my point of vie as a radio station. I’ve never minded paying royalties and I always have. But after the ridicules increase this year I just stopped playing the music and went to talk radio. I was trying to provide a means for the indie artist to get their music played to the masses. It’s not that I don’t think that indies shouldn’t be getting paid. But what everyone is forgetting is the expense of having a radio station. I feel that if I’m not going to charge an artist to play their music then I shouldn’t have to pay them royalties. But that wasn’t an option. So now instead of the indie getting paid. They just won’t be played. There is always two sides to every story. So many times we as the Radio station gets a bad rep for charging an artist to play their music. So I would not charge them. I would just pay the blanket royalty to keep my station legal. Then I started getting all this negative feedback as to why they were not receiving their royally checks.

    The fact is that unless you are a major artist of national or world acclaim then your Royalty is going to be used up by these organizations like BMI SESAC for their operating costs.

    This is the way that it really is. If you are an indie artist with mediocre acclaim then you aren’t going to be able to make enough on Royalties to live on. My attitude about it has always been that there is some amazing music and talent out there that needs to be heard by the masses. So I have done my part for as long as I have been able to. If the indie wants their music played, then they are the ones that’s going to have to lobby our law makers for a change in the law. Because the only ones that are getting rich off of this are theses alphabet agencies.

  21. dear songtrust, in youtube. i have a dvd out it is? on youtube the name of the title is? stop that crime rap! i want you to promote it for me! it is? register with ascap! so i can get paid for it, how much it costs me to join!

    1. Hi Steve, we sent you an email earlier this week. We don’t provide any creative services such as promotion, but we can certainly register your songs with PROs and mechanical collection societies around the world. There is a one-time $100 fee to join Songtrust. You can sign up here:

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