Content ID 101: A Creator’s Guide to Making Money on YouTube

Your content is making money on YouTube, but are you getting paid in full?

Content ID is YouTube’s fingerprinting system that allows creators to easily identify and manage their content. With it, you can upload reference files so that user uploads containing your content can be monetized. In past posts, we’ve discussed YouTube Content ID and how it can help creators not only monetize their content, but also get their music on the Billboard Charts and Sirius XM Radio. However, very little creators (and teams, for that matter) fully understand the inner workings of Content ID, and just how many revenue and data streams exist for their music and videos.

In this blog post, we’ll dissect the key components of Content ID in order to provide a basic understanding of the technology, and how we utilize it here at Stem.

Section I: What is An Asset?

With Content ID, Stem is able to monetize on the asset level of a piece of content. This means that we are able to parse out the different components of your sound recording or video in order to monetize on its use (both on your channel and UGC) as well as collect data. These components are the literal make up of your content and include the video itself, the sound recording, or the actual written song: each one of these is referred to as an asset.

Most creators are part of the partner program with YouTube, which allows them to monetize videos on their channels, or are signed with a multi-channel network (MCN). This differs from Stem’s capabilities; monetizing on the asset level versus the video level enables us to identify more granular ownership as well as multiple revenue streams for a particular video. Think of this in terms of claiming general ownership of a whole video versus being able to identify different owners of the different components of a video.

Stem has no required term or lengthy contract, so you can use our software even if you’re signed with an MCN on one piece of content, or across your whole catalog. Some MCNs and partners do not have the capability to monetize music videos, sound recordings or compositions; if you are creating original music-based content, we can help make sure you are getting paid in full for your work.

For Stem’s purposes, YouTube Content ID recognizes four different types of assets:

youtube assets

There are four types of assets that can be registered to YouTube through Stem

Web Video: The visual component of any content that is not an official music video. Examples of web videos include interviews, comedic shorts, lyric videos, etc.

Music Video: The official visual component for a specific sound recording. This type of asset contains metadata like a video ISRC, song title and artists, and embeds a sound recording asset.

Sound Recording: An audio recording that contains metadata such as ISRC, artist and album title. This type of asset typically has a composition asset embedded within it, and can also be embedded in a music video asset.

Composition: Represents the actual, written music and melody of a song. This type of asset typically contains metadata such as ISWC and writers, and can have multiple owners per territory. There are four types of publishing rights: synchronization, performance, reproduction, lyric.

With each type of asset comes a different set of ownership claims, under which each owner can set a specific match policy.

Section II: What is a Match Policy?

A match policy is set by the asset owner and determines what Content ID does with a video it identifies as matching the reference file for one of your assets. When a creator uploads a reference file for an asset to Stem, they are asked to choose between the policies of Monetize or Block.

youtube policies

Creators can choose to monetize, block or set a custom policy to their assets in Content ID

Policy A: Monetize

Setting your match policy to Monetize enables the asset to have ads run against it and, as a result, collect revenue and data. This applies not only to the uploaded video on the creator’s own page, but also to any user-generated content (UGC) that Content ID finds that contains that particular asset.

Here’s an example of when a piece of content may be monetized:

You write and record a song, and upload a lyric video of it to YouTube.

You have registered the web video, sound recording, and composition to Content ID and set your policy to monetize.

You have a handful of superfans, and one of them loves your song so much that they rip the video from YouTube and upload it to their own channel, audio included.

Since you have uploaded a reference file for the lyric video, sound recording and composition, Content ID will use its fingerprinting technology to recognize that piece of content contains your intellectual property, and that you have opted to monetize it.

Subsequently, Content ID will claim ownership of those assets, run ads against them, and collect revenue from the views on that piece of content.

But what if you don’t want fans uploading videos containing your content?

Policy B: Block

Setting your match policy to Block prevents UGC containing your intellectual property from being posted to YouTube.

Here’s an example of when a creator may set their match policy to block:

You are a creator who is testing out some new material while on tour. Your fans are very dedicated, and often record videos of you performing to later upload to their YouTube channels.

Since you are still testing out your new songs, you may not want them to exist on YouTube just yet.

In this case, you can deliver a demo of your sound recording to Content ID with Stem (this will not post it to YouTube) and set the match policy as Block so it halts any UGC containing your content from being posted.

What if you want to block a song from UGC, but eventually want to enable fans to upload videos of it and monetize their streams?

Policy C: Custom

While Stem currently supports creators in setting their match policy to monetize or block, in future releases, we will enable creators and their teams to create custom policies.

A custom policy means that you can tailor your match policy to your own needs based on your release strategy. This allows you to have a policy in certain territories for a set amount of time and another policy in different territories simultaneously.

Let’s look at the same example as Policy B, but imagine you want to monetize the new song you’re testing out on tour after playing it live for a month. When you deliver this sound recording to YouTube through Stem, you can note that you would like to block the asset worldwide for 30 days, then monetize it worldwide after 30 days.

Section III: Is Content ID For You?

YouTube Content ID is a great way for creators to collect earnings from views on their content on YouTube, but it cannot be done without going through one of YouTube’s partners or an MCN. With Stem, it’s easy for creators to register content, identify shareholders and splits, and receive revenue and data on a regular basis.

Not sure if you should register your intellectual property to Content ID? Here are some questions to ask yourself:

content id

These questions can help you figure out if you should register your intellectual property to Content ID

If you answered “Yes” to any of the above questions, then you should consider registering your songs or videos to Content ID with Stem.

We’ll be diving deeper into this topic for future posts. Can’t wait to learn more about Content ID and rights management on YouTube? Check out this guide.

Want to learn more about Stem? Sign up here.

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