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YouTube has paid more than $4 billion to the music industry in the past 12 months, according to a letter sent by Lyor Cohen, the streaming video service’s top music executive.
That $4 billion payout includes payments to artists, writers, labels and others. Cohen said that 30 percent of that $4 billion figure was generated from user-generated content, underscoring the economic benefits the company is seeing from the creator economy.
“Fan-powered videos have always flourished on YouTube, helping artists grow their audiences and break songs around the world,” he wrote. “We’re thrilled it’s now also become a meaningful and incremental source of revenue alongside premium music content.”
He also pointed to the fact that YouTube Music added more new subscribers in Q1 2021 than in any other quarter since it launched, although he did not provide an overall subscriber figure.
“I’ve seen this industry evolve from an audio business, to an audio-visual business, and now – as my friend Chuck D puts it — to a visual-audio business,” the former Def Jam and Warner Music executive added in his letter. “As a visual-audio platform, our goal is to become the leading revenue generator for the music industry and to help artists around the world build a career making music. We are uniquely positioned to achieve this goal because YouTube monetizes the end-to-end music experience globally.”
Earlier this year Spotify revealed that it had paid out more than $5 billion in royalties in 2020, underscoring its lead in the streaming music space.
That being said, as Cohen noted in his letter, YouTube also monetizes music through its massive ad-supported video platform, in addition to its subscription music and music video service. He added that the company is expanding its offerings for artists and labels, including direct ticket and merch sales, and virtual concerts.
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