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A New Way for Musicians to Make Money on YouTube

Audiam scans videos to track down unclaimed royalties
A New Way for Musicians to Make Money on YouTube
Illustration by 731; Photographs by Getty Images; Alamy

Scott Schreer is an indie musician, but not the garage-band variety. The composer licenses his 1,700 musical works, designed as scenic background music, to film and TV producers. Less gratifyingly, he can also hear them used, without permission, in thousands of videos on YouTube. Hunting those stray recordings and trying to collect licensing fees from the video-sharing Google subsidiary didn’t seem worth the trouble. Then Schreer started using Audiam.

Audiam’s program combs YouTube for videos that feature unlicensed music, using audio-matching software and YouTube’s own ContentID system. If there are advertisements running on the videos that include its clients’ songs, New York-based Audiam claims a share of the ad revenue; if there aren’t any ads attached, Audiam authorizes YouTube to add some. Either way, the startup passes along ad revenue to the artist, minus its 25 percent cut. Founder Jeff Price, a friend of Schreer’s, pitches musicians like this: “Let’s go find you money that already exists. It’s buried treasure.”