Q&A with Frank Rodi, APRA AMCOS Online & Mobile Licensing Manager

Thursday, 01 Aug 2013

Frank Rodi is Online & Mobile Licensing Manager
 at APRA|AMCOS. He has been invited to speak at VIDinc, Australia’s first ever YouTube festival in a few weeks time. We caught up with him to find out just what kind of royalty opportunities YouTube poses for songwriters like you.

Question: If I write a song and upload a music video to YouTube, can I earn money?
FR: It depends entirely on the popularity of the video and how much advertisers are willing to pay for each thousand views, known as the CPM rate. The tools to monetise your music videos on YouTube are available to all users.

Question: When my song is viewed on YouTube, would I also get paid by APRA|AMCOS?
FR: APRA includes in its current distribution practices, the music used in the most viewed 4,000 videos, where the music is reported as streamed on the Premium Music Partner, Premium Non-Music Partner and User Generated Content (UGC) files in each three month distribution period. In addition, APRA separately analyses the top 20 videos in each file where the music details are absent from the reports.

Question: What kind of rates are we looking at?
FR: Potential revenue a songwriter can make from YouTube depends on many factors, but mainly popularity and CPM. CPM rates on YouTube range from a few dollars to around $20 – although there are some premium content videos that can fetch CPM’s of up to $50 or $60! If we use the conservative CPM rate of $10 against a songwriter’s music video that received 1 million views – the calculation of revenue would be: $10 CPM x (1 million views /1,000) = $10,000. It is widely publicised that YouTube maintains 45% of this revenue, so in this example of a video with 1 million hits, if it attracted an average CPM of $10, that video could potentially earn around $5,500 in revenue, to be split between all rights holders in the music video. If the video met APRA|AMCOS distribution criteria, then the underlying musical works in that video would also earn APRA|AMCOS royalties.

Question: YouTube is full of cover songs that have gone viral and had millions of views. Who get’s paid for what in these instances, if anyone?
FR: YouTube has a Content ID system that scans and tries to identify copyright material. This system includes audio fingerprinting technology, audio-visual fingerprinting technology and well as melody recognition for cover songs. The first two types of fingerprinting technologies are far more developed and accurate in identifying sound recordings and visual material (of things such as films and TV programs). However melody recondition technology is less advanced and often cannot identify the many, many cover songs of copyright works on YouTube. However, there is still the ability for any copyright owner to claim their work manually, and if a cover song went viral, we would expect that the copyright owner/music publisher/s would lodge their claim in respect of the video.

Question: What clearances do I need if I record someone else’s song and upload it to YouTube?
FR: APRA|AMCOS has had a licence agreement in place with YouTube for quite some time. However, the APRA|AMCOS licence does not extend to cover synchronisations (ie the initial reproduction of the song when making the video). Therefore, our recommendation is always to first contact the song’s copyright owner/s – often music publisher/s – to see if clearance is required before you make any synchronisation of the song with visual material in a video.

Question: How has YouTube changed the music industry do you think?
FR: I think YouTube has changed the entire media landscape as well as the entertainment industries – most notably music. When you now have over 100 hours of video being uploaded to YouTube every minute and over six billion hours of video being watched each month, YouTube is no longer a mere promotional tool, where artists give away their music and then try and make money downstream from selling CDs and touring. YouTube is now a platform itself where an artist can make money. That said, with such saturation of content, it has also never been so hard for musicians, songwriters and artists to stand out from all the noise.


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