What's The Deal With Content ID?

Posted by Aaron Davison on Tuesday, March 25, 2014 Under: March 2014

Stock Music Report – What’s the deal with Content ID?

by Aaron Saloman

Hello again to all the readers of HowToLicenseYourMusic.com. I’m Aaron Saloman, co-creator of the audio course on getting started with stock music libraries

It’s been a while! I’ve been busy composing lots of new music for licensing, which you can check out here. (http://www.reverbnation.com/tvmusic/songs) I’ve also been helping other artists with mixing, mastering, and meta-tagging their music for stock libraries. And amidst all that, I finished up producing and recording a record for Lukas Grant, which I’m pretty happy with. You can stream that album here. ( http://lukasgrant.bandcamp.com/So it’s been a good year!

I thought I would check in on the blog with another update on the always-evolving subject of stock music. Commercial length edits, stem mixes, gratis licenses, blanket licensing, exclusive vs. non-exclusive – it can be a lot to wrap your head around all these new terms and concepts. I highly recommend you search through the blog for my other posts on these topics, as well as my appearance on Aaron D.’s “Music Money & Life” podcast, where we talk about many of these things. And naturally, we go in-depth on these subjects in the course

            Today I want to talk about Content ID. This is something that’s increasingly coming up as an issue in stock music, as internet royalties start to contribute to the overall picture. Content ID programs, on YouTube and elsewhere, can be a great way to find and monetize uses of your music when it’s only being licensed from one place.

            Yep, that’s in bold for a reason.

As I’ve talked about before on this blog, stock music is a bit different from other areas of music licensing. The upfront payouts can be small or nonexistent, and the performance royalties build up over time through hundreds of little placements in TV shows. So it’s very difficult to make it lucrative unless your tracks are represented non-exclusively in several places. That means the same tracks are being licensed by different libraries on your behalf, sometimes under different titles so each library can collect publishing on their placements.

If you’ve seen that app that lets you hold up your phone in a bar and identify a song, you have a basic idea of how Content ID works at this point in time. In other words, it recognizes the music, and doesn’t always do a great job of it. Sometimes it will mistakenly hear two different songs that used the same software drum loops as the same song. Even if it gets the song right, there’s no way for it to know where the music came from; the song sounds the same to the algorithm no matter who the licensing company was. So Content ID becomes, sort of by definition, something that can only work well in exclusive deals. If a library includes your music in a Content ID program, sites like YouTube will send copyright violation notices to people who have legitimately licensed the song from any other vendor. After this happens, they will have to send copies of their licensing agreements to the video site’s administrators to get their videos re-activated. You can imagine how much paying customers love this (hint – they don’t).

Unfortunately the only viable option right now is to opt out of Content ID if your music is in several libraries. Many large libraries have an “opt out” checkbox somewhere in your profile, or in the contract when you’re signing up. For those that don’t, I carefully read the contract, then cross out and initial any Content ID sections. Make sure you’re upfront about doing this; e-mail the library first and politely outline the reasons you can’t participate in Content ID. Most people running libraries understand the issues and should be OK with it.

            There is hope though! I’ve been hearing that some Content ID algorithms are being developed that can recognize the source of the music, so the money can be directed to the appropriate library. This would be a great development for the further monetization of stock music used in online platforms. Maybe by this time next year, this blog entry will no longer apply! In the meantime, always read your contract carefully. Make sure that if you want to work non-exclusively, you’re not signing up for something (like Content ID) that can really only apply to exclusive music. If you’re not sure, it’s always a good idea to ask questions or run the contract past a lawyer.


            For an in-depth intro to the world of stock music, check out “How to Make Money With Stock Music Libraries” . We talk for two hours about strategies to get started, show you screenshots of how to make seamless commercial-length edits, and give you a list of libraries. As a bonus to everyone who purchases this weekend, I’m offering a free 20 minute Skype consultation where you can ask me any questions you have.

Thanks for reading!

Aaron Saloman




In : March 2014 

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