What a Label With 2.5 Million YouTube Streams Actually Earns

The Sad Truth of What YouTube Actually Pays...

The most difficult part about the debate over streaming royalties is that nobody seems to know what streaming services actually pay.  Which is why Digital Music News started an initiative to collect streaming data from anyone who would share their royalty statements.

(If you’d like to share, please email us at [email protected]  As you can see in this piece, we can protect confidentiality if needed).

Now, statements are starting to roll in, with a rock band from France kicking things off.   Now, the latest rights owner to come forward is an independent label based in Canada with a roster of roughly one dozen artists, a group that racked up more than 2.5 million YouTube streams over a one-year span (July 2014 through June of 2015).

The label also had some plays on Spotify, Deezer, and now-shuttered ZIK.  Additionally, the label also had a small amount of downloads across iTunes, Google Play, 7digital, and Archambault, which only served to highlight the utter imbalance between streaming and download payouts.

Focusing on the YouTube portion, here’s a quick breakdown of what the video platform paid per stream.  These are all in Canadian dollars (one CAD is currently worth 0.79 US dollars).

YouTube (proper music video plays): $0.001005 Canadian ($0.000794 US) per stream.

YouTube (Content ID): $0.001342 Canadian ($0.001061 US) per match.

The biggest surprise here is that Content ID (which involves recognizing content and sharing ad revenues) actually beat proper music video plays.  Less surprising is that despite more than 1.1 million YouTube music video plays over a year-long period, total royalties were just $832.99 Canadian ($658.06 US).

On the Content ID side, the numbers are equally miserable: despite more than 1.4 million positive Content IDs, the label earned just $1,411.32 Canadian ($1,114.95 US).

Which means that in total, this label earned just $2,244.31 Canadian ($1,773.00 US) for more than 2.5 million YouTube streams in a year.

Here’s the entire royalty statement for this label, published with permission.  We removed the name of the label, and all identifying marks including artist names, ISRC codes, album names, and other identifying information.

Go ahead and download it if you prefer.


19 Responses

  1. Bye bye, YouTube - hello Vimeo!

    You might as well use Vimeo instead since you can’t monetize your songs on YouTube either.

    And Vimeo is a way more artist-friendly environment.

    • Anonymous

      How’s that relevant?

      Or don’t you think channels with a few million views should be paid?

      • Me

        It’s relevant because people don’t realize that a million views isn’t that much, especially if you’re adding up catalogs from a dozen bands to get that number.

  2. Googlebot

    Ad-rates are much higher for views occurring in the USA. It looks like the majority of views came from within Canada which could help explain the low totals. What types of ads were enabled (non-skippable?) and how many videos were these views spread over? Either way YouTube’s per stream rate is extremely low.

  3. Programmer/Data Analyst

    There’s no way that merely removing the artist and track names, ISRC’s. This dataset could easily be pinned back to the label using the country and #plays columns, and probably not very many rows of them, either.

  4. Anonymous

    Whatever happened to that service that was going to save the industry? Some woman always talked about it/hyped it up on here…

    • Sarah

      Dude, shit takes time. 😛

      You know the music industry is crazy convoluted, and it takes years to negotiate with major labels for Spotify-clones (i.e., well-known business models they’ve already accepted); try to imagine the challenges involved with a new business model.

      On a side note, Anonymous, do you know that many advertisers (like small businesses and marketing/ad agencies) are perfectly willing to pay a few cents per impression (stream) under the right circumstances? Ads pay nothing because of how tech companies like google handle them – not because the money isn’t there. Unfortunately, those companies have no incentive to change their approach, as they do pretty well under the current model.

      We’re in the middle of hiring some lovely folks, and we’ll have some actual news for you soon.

  5. Maximus

    Just checked my bands statement. We have over 4 million AdRev views and we’ve only been paid out $3300 American. Would be nice if YouTube would at least make the rates comparable to the other streaming services.

    • ZeekDuff

      If you’d had 4 mil plays on the ORIGINAL mp3-com, you’d all be out ordering your new Cadillacs (or whatever you prefer). Perhaps you never knew the original, but Avid bought them out & killed it for indie artists, and they haven’t paid 1/1,000th what they used to. Yeah, it would be nice if Youtube or anyone else paid like the old mp3.com did…

      • semaximus

        YouTube is also a big part of how my band got discovered. So a double edge sword.

    • Bill

      I have a video with 12 million views. When I enabled monetization on YouTube in 2012, my hit rate was between 35k and 50k per month.

      I made about 2k+ per month the first year, and slowly the count has diminished, but I still make 600-800 a month now.

      I suspect that the real issue here is your particular market. Mine is older people from the middle states, the 24-54 crowd.

      Most bands are trying to appeal to much younger demographics who are way too savvy to click that banner ad at the bottom of the view window.

  6. Zeek Duff

    Why hasn’t anyone started a site that uses the ORIGINAL mp3.com model? I know, a lot of people complained that it was mostly musicians supporting other musicians, BUT even IF that were the case, it spread $$ around so everyone with listenable music began to earn meaningful money from their music. I personally know a number of musicians who were earning enough to pay at minimum their utility bills, including myself, after only a year or so of exposure on mp3.com. If your music was good, no matter the genre, it was rewarding for the artists. When Avid took over, the money dropped to insignificant almost immediately, and ended for everyone within a few weeks. Since then, there hasn’t been anything even remotely similar launched by anyone. I’d really like to know why, it was obviously a good business for all involved, Avid pair the site owners a huge chunk of money for the rights to the name, and then changed it to a “label specific” format that killed the independents, completely. WHY can’t we get that all back??? WHY?

    • Nicola Battista

      Universal took it. After an enormous lawsuit against the Beam-It service and possible copyright infringment. I still doubt that was real infringment (the users had to own an original cd copy to stream music) but still Mp3.com had already changed his model by then and had entered dangerous waters… 😉

  7. Jackie Henrion

    Just curious – the subject of the article is the money flowing to “labels” but various other articles deal with money flowing to “artists.” But as the top heavy structures of this industry get leaner aren’t there payment steams going to publishers and authors as well? In the past 70 years we have become accustomed to the money stream sliced to within an inch of it’s life. But perhaps we are looking at a new normal?

  8. Liam Bradbury Music

    There is no money in the music industry any more. It’s as simple as that. Nobody is buying music, they just stream and the streams pay practically nothing. Licensing is on the decline too because people just think music is free and can be used whenever they want. Content ID has had a massive backlash from people who would license the song – They often wont license any song that is content ID’d as they don’t want the hassle of proving that they have legally licensed the song. It’s just a mess at the moment.

    • Bill

      there’s plenty of money in music. The problem is that most musicians are f–king idiots.

      I live on the extreme fringe of the music biz and sell original songs independently. I’m a tiny artist with a fairly loyal following, and between iTunes sales of about 1500 tracks per month and youtube hits of 30k per month, I average about $1500 per month in revenue.

      I don’t stream on Spotify or anywhere else.

      I also don’t give shit away “for exposure”, ever, and I don’t give away my publishing or writer’s to anybody for any reason unless I am paid well up front.

      However, most young, stupid-AF musicians will sell all of this away for a chance to have their track play in the background scene on an independent local cable-access talk show one time.

      Musicians, in my experience (and myself included, for the better part of 20 years) have become adept at two things: playing their instruments and bending over to take their pants down when the topic of money comes up.

      The price of every single item on planet earth has risen with inflation over the last thirty years, except for one thing: Music. The price of a single song in 1980 was $1.49. Today, its .99 cents.

      Because musicians and artists are morons, and they refuse to educate themselves in any of the practices or methods of financial management that would help them not be broke.

  9. Asd

    Ok, then answer these questions:

    1. How many NEW FANS did they gain, how many new people found them because of Youtube?

    2. How many of those new fans clicked and BOUGHT the albums? How many new album sales came from Youtube? Maybe those new fans will buy music from them for YEARS.

    3. How many TICKET SALES came from those new fans? Maybe those new fans will buy concert tickets/merch from them for YEARS.

    They gain much more from Youtube then streaming revenue.


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