How I Make Money from YouTube Without Making Videos

You might think this is a bait title, but I’m actually making money from YouTube without making videos or even having a YouTube channel.

Here’s how.

You may already know that I compose stock music and sell it on several online music libraries. Also, all my tracks are protected with Content ID.

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about Content ID:

“Content ID is a digital fingerprinting system developed by Google which is used to easily identify and manage copyrighted content on YouTube.”

copyright claim on YouTube channel

What that means is if someone uses my music tracks on YouTube without a license, YouTube issues a copyright claim on the video with that track.

The copyright claim can be disputed and released only if it was a mistake, to begin with, or if the video owner presents the license. This license is granted by the stock music library when someone purchases the music track.

If no license is declared, the video creator won’t be able to monetize that video. Instead, the company that administers the rights holder will receive the ad revenue generated by that video on their behalf.

They then distribute it to the rights holder (songwriter/composer).

What this means for video creators:

  • They don’t receive a dime from videos that contain a sound recording for which they don’t have a license.
  • On the other side, they don’t need to worry because it won’t affect their channel like a copyright strike would.

Not everybody is a musician, so you can check out the best ways to make money on YouTube.

Now let’s look at the numbers.

How much did I earn from YouTube ads without making videos?

In January 2020 I received an unexpected email that came as a surprise.

Earnings from YouTube without a YouTube channel

HAAWK Inc. is a rights management company specializing in copyright management, monetization, music distributing, sync licensing, and many other things related to the world of music copyrights and royalties.

They offer a full-service YouTube Content ID and Facebook/Instagram rights management administration. This means my music is protected on these three platforms.

Identifyy is their self-service music rights management platform. Every time I compose a new track, I upload it to their catalog and a unique fingerprint is generated. Then, this will be matched to the billions of videos on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram to check for possible misusage of my music.

So when I received that email, I went straight to Identifyy to see what happened.

It seemed that in the third quarter of 2020, almost 5 million views were reported from YouTube for videos containing my music.

Identifyy Youtube earnings report from 2020 Q3

These views generated $1,304.06. My cut was 70%, which is $912.84.

As you can see in the previous quarter, my earnings were less than $10, hence my surprise.

How did the videos with my music went viral?

Diving more into the platform, I found that one of my piano ballads was used in a Thai television series with 13 episodes.

As you all probably know, today, when something is aired on TV, someone uploads it to YouTube right away.

Besides, famous Asian YouTube channels started commenting on the series, including footage and music.

With these videos going viral, my music reached millions of people. And it was just a soft piano piece I recorded in my room. How awesome is that?

Those who produced the series have a license to use my music, but the video creators who upload it to YouTube don’t. This is where Content ID comes in handy.

Thinking about using Content ID?

If you’re a music producer and put your music online, especially on YouTube, you’d better think about protecting it with Content ID. Because if your track ends up in the background of a viral video, and it is used over and over again on different channels (by people who don’ own the license) you get paid from the ads shown in the video.

The cool thing is, it doesn’t matter if the channel is eligible for monetization or not. Once a copyright claim is issued, ads will start to show.

Why Video Creators Should Approve Content ID

On the other side of the spectrum, there are video creators not very fond of Content ID. They say it’s a hassle to dispute the claims.

While I can relate to that, I also believe Content ID guarantees another level of security for video creators.

Imagine this:

  1. You are a video creator, and you buy a non-protected track from a royalty-free music library. You upload a video containing that track to YouTube. There are no copyright claims.
  2. Someone with bad intentions (or to make money stealing others) buys that same track and registers it with Content ID. He used different artist and track names.
  3. You receive a copyright claim, and when you try to dispute it, your license doesn’t match the data of the newly protected track. The copyright management system won’t release the claim, and ads will be shown on your video. None of the revenue is for you but the thief.

I know this might seem some obscure strategy, but it actually happened to a composer I know. His clients received copyright claims, and he couldn’t do anything about it, even after complaining to the copyright management companies.

When a composer protects his tracks with Content ID, everyone who uses them can rest assured there will be no future problem.

Are you a musician or content creator? How do you feel about Content ID? Let me know in the comments down below.

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4 thoughts on “How I Make Money from YouTube Without Making Videos”

  1. Hi Vasco,

    Clever! I love your abundance mentality. We never know the ways and means through which we can make money online when we initially create something useful for humanity. Who knew Thai folks would fan the flames under your piano work? Amazing. But here you are. You are giving me some fabulous ideas for my online campaign. Thank you for sharing.


    • Hi Ryan,
      I’m glad you enjoyed it. I believe that we came to this world to experience abundance, even if it’s just an abundance of smiles. We also attract what we believe, so we better think about what we want and don’t let our negative mind interfere. All the best to your campaigns!

  2. Hey Vasco great article, really useful. It is kind of hard to make a decision about the Content ID system also because there are some libraries, such as Audiosparx, that don’t like it.
    It looks to me that for you it makes more sense, in order to get more income, to fingerprint your tracks with Content ID rather than add your music in an extra music library. Right? I am asking because I thought I want to join AudioSparx but now I am not so sure anymore.
    Did you ever have some issues with other music libraries such as AJ, Pond5 or 100Audio because it? Thanks for your time!

    • Hello, Davide.
      The reason I didn’t join Audiosparx is that you can never remove your tracks from there. 100audio has some severe regulations regarding song removal, however with good justification, you can remove them. There are some music libraries that don’t accept tracks that have been registered with Content ID, so I don’t join them, unless I’m willing not to registered those tracks. Because I also upload my songs to a YouTube channel, the Content ID is an excellent method of protection against unauthorized use. And I never had any issues with it!


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