Historically, YouTube has struggled to manage its complicated relationship with the recording industry. The platform’s latest product, however, provides creators with an appealing library of songs and clear licensing terms for those tracks. Creator Music, first announced last year, is now available for all YouTube partners in the United States.
Creator Music is available through the YouTube Studio. A search function allows users to sort available tracks by mood, genre, or artist. The new service is separate from the Shorts Music Library, though the launch of Creator Music has been closely tied to the expansion of YouTube Shorts ads. Those two developments were announced simultaneously, and Creator Music has since been available for a select group of YouTube partners — until now.
With Creator Music, YouTube is looking to simplify a process that has long been a thorn in the side of online video professionals. Music licensing is a tricky issue that affects creators across the social media landscape. The rise of TikTok has only made it more difficult to navigate the complexities of digital rights management. Memes derived from mainstream pop songs are omnipresent in the short-form world. Those videos, and their cultural influence, have spurred the development of the TikTok Music hub.
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Creator Music provides an answer to TikTok’s ambitions in the audio space. An intro video for the service claims that creators can earn revenue from “mainstream music.” There are two different monetization options: Creator Music users can buy a license upfront or enter a revenue-sharing agreement with the rights holders. The terms of those deals are clearly laid out through the Creator Music interface. Some tracks only offer one of those options, while others are not available for creator monetization.
The licenses available through Creator Music are non-transferable and only apply to a single video. In some cases, licensing a song will be free.
If the terms of Creator Music licenses prove favorable, the new service could compete with companies like Epidemic Sound, Slip.stream, and Uppbeat. Those music libraries currently fill a need for creators who wish to soundtrack their videos in a cost-effective manner.
For YouTube’s music solution to compete in that space, it will need a strong library of desirable content. YouTube says that Creator Music has a “growing catalog of tracks,” though songs from Big Three labels (Sony, Universal, and Warner) are still missing. With some upgrades, Creator Music could become a valuable part of its home platform’s toolkit. YouTube seems committed to those improvements, but even without them, the launch of Creator Music will turn plenty of heads in the online video community.