Different Types of Music Content
Out of all of the types of content that you can produce, music gives you a lot of control over your artistic expression of a medium. You can really appreciate it for what it is. That sound you use? The absense of sound? Genius.
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For most music creators, they take their work very seriously because of the emotional attachment they may harbor to a particular piece. Not everyone is going to take you seriously in the music industry and that extends a bit into the culture as a whole. Note that within a certain subset, abstract concepts or performances may seem odd to one group, but that is not a disqualifying factor for success. You really do a disservice to your audience by homogenizing your content or dumbing it down. What you should focus on when creating is to do whatever you do extremely well. You see examples of this with some artists that got popular by virtue of using the same hook over and over, but just changing a small part of it. It doesn’t make them any less popular for them to do it, so why should it for you? (Small caveat here, there is such a thing as remixing or re-envisioning the same song or melody too many times or doing it lazily.)
High level promotions don’t necessarily start that way. You don’t have to appeal to mainstream audiences to be successful, but you have to appeal to enough people that they would feel comfortable recommending you to their friends. Why is this the metric that we’re choosing to judge ourselves by? Because you absolutely need to have some hardcore fans and a buzz going about your channel. There’s also a fine line here between following your own artistic direction and following what the results are telling you. Thousands of creators follow their heart and never “make it” for every one that does. Whatever you choose, make sure you challenge yourself to make different types of content. With content creation in particular, there is a large emphasis on the “creation” aspect of it. If you don’t produce music regularly, you won’t even be a blip on the radar.
Whether you choose to license your music as royalty free or want to retain the copyrights, there will be an expectation of regularity. For this reason, it’s recommended to push back the release of a music channel until you have a few weeks to a month’s worth of uploads (this is mostly for music promotion channels). Figure out your schedule early if you’re going to have a schedule. If a schedule makes the quality of your work go down, ditch it altogether. The artist in you will be able to make up for the lack of organization in your life. However, we would still recommend putting yourself on some kind of deadlines so that your creative impulses don’t stray too far from actually getting stuff done. Whenever there’s a roadblock to your content creation dreams, go back to your source material. Find what inspires you and come back to it later with a fresh pair of ears and eyes.
The most common type of music you’ll see on social media are original songs or collaborations. These artist usually retain the full rights to the Intellectual Property, but it can be split among multiple people or labels. Respecting these copyrights is a bit trickier if you intend to use other people’s performances in your finished work. Always make sure you work out the terms of copyright or a lack thereof with the people you’re collaborating with.
Music Promotion Channels
There are really a lot of music promotion channels out there. Being a music promotion channel involves a lot of work and the benefits of hosting copyrighted music can be very low at times. If you’re choosing to become a music promotion channel, you have to have a very good ear and aim for reaching as big of an audience as possible. You will face much larger hurdles to your growth than if you were to create everything and retain all the rights for yourself. You’ll have to work with a lot of people and the lead times will be extremely long. You can do months worth of work to have it all amount to nothing. If monetization is your goal, be ready to have to ask for revenue splits from artists. They won’t give it away, the terms have to be worked out. It will be a lot harder for you to get started without a following. For this reason and many other reasons, it can be more beneficial to focus on growing as large of an audience as possible in the hopes of monetizing your audience in other ways via Patreon or similar methods. Always make sure your audio leveling is on point.
As a music promotion channel, you have the choice to promote altered content that was created by yourself or other artists. There are Bootleg Remixes (where someone takes a fully mixed version of a song and makes an alternate version) and Remixes (where the same music stems as an original song are used make an alternate version). Last but not least, we have nightcore. A nightcore version of a song is typically a bootleg copy of a song that generally includes high pitched vocals set to an Anime character background. In the same vein as nightcore, there’s also AMV or Anime Music Videos where different nightcore or anime theme songs are set to the visuals of an anime. It should be noted that a large majority of these channels will get shut down because they are infringing on other people’s rights.
For Youtube in particular, the dreaded 3 copyright strikes will shut down a channel. In an effort to keep most of their work up, these channels often shut down after receiving 2 copyright strikes at one time. While it’s not impossible for them to come back, it’s a lot less profitable to return to a once failed project. Especially when it probably still has the same negative aspects tied to it that distributing someone else’s copyrighted work involves. Always make sure you’re in the clear to use other people’s content. If there are any doubts, you’re usually better off not using it. Not monetizing STILL does not grant you the right to use someone else’s content.
Other types of Music Content
There is a recent phenomenon that involves taking existing sound clips from newscasts or other media sources and splicing them together to make a new song, typically using autotune to alter the voices. One such example of this is “Dead Giveaway!” where a news report from a man about the kidnapping of 3 women was turned into so much more.
Making a successful viral video using this method will potentially have some copyright issues, but it stands to reason that Fair Use applies here so clearly that the original copyright holder will have to acknowledge it. However, keep in mind that fair use is a legal defense in court and not a right to use someone else’s content or IP (Intellectual Property). Retaining the ad revenue on a video that reaches millions of views would potentially be worth the risk for most people though.
Mashups are another popular medium where two or more songs are integrated together to create a new experience. All of the above copyright advice still applies here, but without getting into too much detail, a mashup is really just 1 type of content that you could make and shouldn’t be a main focus. Unless you built your branding around mashups, but even, most of the time you would be better off trying new ways to show your talent.
Original songs are probably your best bet for music content creation unless you’re laser-focused on your niche. Making royalty free stems or music samples can be very profitable, for instance, but it requires quality and volume. There are always creators looking for good music and sound effects to work with so the numbers are in your favor. There’s nothing that says you have to limit yourself to one or two things either. Different genres of music can be very rewarding, just the same way making a new type of content can be. For the creation of music, one must look at the utility of a finished work. What will it be used for? Is it just to sound nice in the background? Is it universally catchy, and if so, does it run the risk of sounding too generic?
Skits / Joke Songs
Skits and making joke songs is another way to capitalize on the diversity of the internet. It doesn’t mean you want a lot of different types of content on the same channel, but the only limits that actually exist on this Earth are the ones that you construct yourself. You could have a hobby joke channel become much bigger than the one that you take more seriously! The sky is the limit here and the same applies for skits and joke songs. They’re only stupid until they’re so catchy that they’re not stupid any more. Not to mention, there is a LOT of crossover between other sub-genres and joke songs. There just happen to be a lot of Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad fans out there. A majority of them would probably appreciate a well done skit or other type of dig on the series. For this type of channel to work, production quality and execution have to be your biggest focus.
Cover songs are not considered legally significant from their original songs in most cases. In order to legally redistribute a song (like putting it on youtube, for example) you have to pay for a license. The Harry Fox Agency has you covered in that department.
Having a few cover songs or an entire channel dedicated to covers can have high startup costs if you’re going to do everything legally.
Soundcloud is your biggest ally if you are doing anything music related. It’s recommended to join the community in some capacity. Get yourself familiar with what other people are doing and see where you may potentially fit into that. Network yourself into a collaboration. There are many things you can be doing that will just come naturally if you put yourself in the right situations. A lot of underserved genres have a home on Soundcloud and while some are not the most pleased with the platform currently, there is still no true successor to the site. We’ll be sure to update you if there ever is.
Copyright Free Vs. Royalty Free Vs. Creative Commons
Now you’ve chosen what type of music you’re going to make, but another big consideration is whether to make your music royalty free, copyright free, if you would like to retain the copyright for yourself, or somewhere in between.
Royalty Free from Wikipedia: "The right to use copyright material or intellectual property without the need to pay royalties or license fees for each use or per volume sold, or some time period of use or sales."
Royalty free doesn’t mean that you give away your work for free. You can charge a one time licensing fee or similar structure and still be considered royalty free. When choosing to license your work as royalty free, you’re not really giving anything away. If you choose to give away your royalty free music for FREE, that’s when you’re giving your music away for the chance at reaching a bigger audience. A few examples of this method is NoCopyrightSounds, Frequency and Argofox on Youtube. If you want to have a channel like theirs, you’ll have to work with many artists that may not know all of the legal repercussions involved with intellectual property. The channels that get to this size often have entire legal teams to help them navigate through all of the technical hurdles. It’s also worth it to note that some labels may allow their music to be reused on youtube, but it’s not Public Domain. The golden rule is that if you’re going to use someone else’s potentially copyrighted content that you should ask for permission before using it. Unfortunately, this can mean you simply don’t hear back from Drake. Tough luck. Find another way to break in to the music industry.
A lot of people misunderstand copyright free and creative commons, in particular. Creative Commons is a way for you to license your content in various ways for which CAN include copyright free or public domain. Specifically in a CC0 license, for example, your work would be in the public domain:
The person who associated a work with this deed has dedicated the work to the public domain by waiving all of his or her rights to the work worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
You can copy, modify, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.) Source
You’ll notice that there are a few more types of creative commons licenses available for you to choose from. Without going into too much detail about it, they do a much better job of explaining it.
Whether you want to make 10 second intro clips for other people’s youtube channels, tutorials on how to produce music, your own original songs, give away your music stems for free, charge for royalty free music and promote it on youtube, or just really like doing cover songs of Cher, you should do your research and make sure you find yourself on the right side of copyright.
We’re not saying that you’ll get a copyright strike for using other people’s copyrighted work, but you will likely receive some copyright claims. Your goals for your channel should be secondary to infringing someone else’s rights. Kids songs, promotional jingles, acoustic originals, whatever it may be that you’re creating, you should know your rights and the rights of those around you.