Music Is Just 4.3% of YouTube Traffic, Research Shows

Maybe you need YouTube more than YouTube needs you.

Music videos and music-related video content account for just 4.3% of overall YouTube traffic, according to data now released by San Francisco-based Pexeso.  By stark comparison, gaming-related content accounts for 33.4% of the total, which mirrors the massive draw of channels like Twitch.

Entertainment-focused content also dwarfs music content, according to the data, with an 18.9% chunk.  Random content uploaded by people, bloggers, and YouTube personalities also beat music content, accounting for 14.3% of the pie.  Other categories like Sports and Film & Animation also trump music.

The 4.3 percent figure improves markedly when sliced by views.  That suggests a greater appetite for music video and broader music-related content, based on the typically shorter length of songs.  That said, the shorter length of music videos also introduces issues of lower engagement.



All of that starkly contrasts with earlier research, some of which shows music videos accounting for more than 40% of the total.   That figure has been heavily touted within the music industry, particularly when contrasting volume to compensation.   “Here’s a little statistic,” former UMG executive (and current Apple Music executive) Jimmy Iovine rattled last October.  “[YouTube] are 40% of consumption of music and 4% of the revenue. That’s a problem!”

“They know that doesn’t work. But do they care? I have no idea.”


YouTube, on the other extreme, recently claimed that music videos account for just 2.5% of the total.  “The final claim that the industry makes is that music is core to YouTube’s popularity,” the video giant’s Head of International Music Partnerships Christophe Muller declared last April.  “Despite the billions of views music generates, the average YouTube user spends just one hour watching music on YouTube a month.  Compare that to the 55 hours a month the average Spotify subscriber consumes.”

But perhaps those data points are merely weaponry in a debate over compensation, and ultimately, suspect and unreliable.  Enter a player like Pexeso, which is working to create a video detection and claiming system that functions like YouTube’s Content ID, but works for all video online.  Their chip in this game is a bit different, though tellingly, their result is closer to YouTube’s than those quoted by the music industry.

Either way, a lower percentage could explain YouTube’s inaction against a barrage of music industry complaints.  Instead of dramatically changing its lowball compensation policies towards rights owners, the Google-owned video behemoth has instead fired back with their own statistics.  That includes those tied to Content ID, which YouTube claims addressed roughly 99.5% of all copyright issues.


Images: top pizza slice image by theimpulsivebuy, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC by 2.0).  Other images supplied by Pexeso.  

Written while listening to Mozart Piano Concertos Nos. 2 & 17, as played by Ingrid Jacoby.



10 Responses

  1. Polochon

    The problem is also/mostly about “background” music (not really “background” actually, but I don’t know the English wor for it).

    For example, some weeks ago, I saw a video where an orchestra director explained the structure of symphonies. At first it is definitely ok, with short samples from Beethoven symphonies, to explain the very basis. Then he starts explaining the fifth (Beethoven’s symphony)… and actually doesn’t explain much anymore: it’s mostly music playing, and he speaks for a few seconds every five minutes (or ten minutes?). In the end, -the whole- symphony was played, totally heard, not as a support to a speech but really “to be heard, totally, every minute”.
    As the conference was ending, someone asked what version of the symphony it was: the director wasn’t sure, he didn’t remember. Needless to say, that surely means that no rights were paid.

    Of course there is an exception that says that you don’t have to pay rights “when in an educational context”. But what if a whole (and long) piece is played, not paused to explain stuff but really “played to be played as a whole”? What if a video is made of the conference, then sold (don’t know if that happened here, just asking)?

    Even when your graphic shows “games”, “entertainment” or “film and animation”: all of these do use music, regularly. Yet, Youtube doesn’t take them into account, because Youtube deals with -one- creator at a time. Especially in games where… for example, you drive a car in-game, and listen to the radio while driving: most of the time (like 99% of the time), songs are from different bands, who signed an agreement with the game editor, sure, but they won’t get anything from the use of their music while a Youtuber is “testing” the game.

    And so on and so forth. “Music” is widely spread on Youtube, but “music videos” are a minority, indeed. It’s important to remember that difference.

  2. Sakis Gouzonis

    None of my friends listens to music on YouTube for less than 80 hours per month.

    By the way, nice pizza!

  3. philip samson

    Music Is Just 4.3% of YouTube Traffic, Research Shows

    no thats not what this shows. it says music is 4% of vids uploaded to youtube. doesnt say anything about views or traffic. plus a lot of music will get caught by contentid.

    • Anonymous

      Indeed, music probably accounts for about 80% of YouTube’s traffic — and brand value.

    • Paul Resnikoff

      It’s “Time spent,” not percentage of uploads.

      • Andreas Æ

        Time spent doesn´t seem to equal traffic and even less upload which only accounts for part of internet traffic, progressive download when streaming being the majority, I assume. I come to expect some click-baity sheen from DMN but mostly found redeeming measures within the articles, in this case including % of views, which seems more to the point. But could Pexeso be bothered to share their methods? And did they screen the gaming category for background music, which is huge among casual and pro gamers alike.

  4. Versus

    Does this really count all music usage though?
    What about background music for non-music videos, movies, home movies, TV shows illicitly uploaded, cat videos etc?

  5. Tex Johnson

    If this research is true then how comes when a search is done on Google for “Top 10 most viewed videos” OR “Top 20 most viewed videos” OR “Top 50 most viewed videos” OR “Top 100 most viewed videos” OR “Top 200 most viewed videos”……….THEY ARE ALL MUSIC VIDEO??????

    This research is RUBBISH…..It was most probably backed by YouTube in an attempt to undermine the music industry.

  6. Johnny

    A fan of my music uploaded one of my songs to Youtube without my permission. He told me that the song had saved his life after he went through a difficult divorce and he got the song from an illegal site to start with. I saved his life but he didn’t pay me one cent! Welcome to the new music business where fans think that all musicians and songwriters should work for free. And all musicians are ‘Rock stars’ driving around in Limos and flying in private jets! No wonder more than 50% of Pro musicians have quit this business. But don’t blame the fans as they rip our music off Youtube! And brainwashing the fans with ridiculous stats is the new way to go – kinda like telling the fans that musicians are all okay with free music! Well, how about all the employees at Google work for free for a couple of decades and see how they like it! May the brainwashing continue …..