Audiam seeks to provide revenue for artists whose music appears on YouTube.
For some time, YouTube has provided a side channel for music listeners who eschew established streaming services such as Spotify or Rdio. Incorporated into its billions of videos, a vast archive of music has been uploaded that allows fans to locate and listen to almost any song they desire with or without the permission of the artists.
Although every artist wants their music to be heard, concerns arise from the fact that many of these uses of their work are unofficial. Whether uploaders are unwitting or unwilling to acknowledge their use of copyrighted songs, the creator is unlikely to see any return from the uploaded material.
Launched by Tunecore co-founders Jeff Price and Peter Wells, Audiam uses “digital fingerprinting” technology to search YouTube’s vast video database for instances of songs specified by the musicians who sign up. Having granted the service exclusive rights to the song on YouTube, when Audiam finds these videos it can automatically insert advertising units, the revenue from which is then paid out by YouTube. Audiam collects the money, takes a 25% cut for its efforts, and pays the remainder out to the artist at the next reporting interval. With just a few simple steps, musicians can tap into a pool of money that was previously almost impossible to uncover.
Of course, the question as to whether or not this extra income is sufficient to warrant sanctioning unofficial use of one’s work will come down to the circumstances of the individual artist. With the estimated advertising revenue for videos utilizing songs already in the billions of dollars, however, it seems reasonable to expect that many will choose to explore this route to monetizing their music.
For an industry severely shaken up by the digital era, it is encouraging to see more examples of technology working to identify new revenue streams that compensate creators for their work. Although Audiam is still in beta mode and has yet to launch in the US, it is free to join and will encourage artists to better understand their rights, particularly as they apply to relatively new sources of income.