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Old 06-17-2015, 03:08 PM   #1
blackomen52
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Earning money with guitar covers on youtube

I really enjoy playing my guitar. Recording yourself playing and earning money for that sounds awesome. I know that a lot of people have guitar cover channels on Youtube and they earn money with them (even though they don't have the permission from a song's record label). The thing is, most of those youtubers make their own arrangements.

My question is: Would I still be able to earn from my cover video if I didn't make the guitar arrangement but instead played the song according to a tab I found on ultimate-guitar?
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Old 06-17-2015, 03:47 PM   #2
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So violating not only the artists' and labels' copyrights but also the tab creators' and UG's?
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Old 06-17-2015, 04:01 PM   #3
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Old 06-17-2015, 04:16 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by theogonia777
So violating not only the artists' and labels' copyrights but also the tab creators' and UG's?


After doing some research it turns out you only need the permission from the label if you are doing a cover video. Do you really think someone pays thousands for a single label just so he can put a cover of his video on youtube? Nope, it's rarely done, and yet people are still fine. I made this thread because I was unsure if I need the permission from the tab creator and the site.
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Old 06-17-2015, 04:19 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blackomen52
I made this thread because I was unsure if I need the permission from the tab creator and the site.

Or you could, you know, not be that lameass who does Youtube covers...
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Old 06-17-2015, 04:31 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blackomen52

My question is: Would I still be able to earn from my cover video if I didn't make the guitar arrangement but instead played the song according to a tab I found on ultimate-guitar?


I sure as hell hope not. That's the last thing the music industry needs. More money going into the hands of people who don't have any real talent, and aren't creating anything.
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Old 06-17-2015, 04:37 PM   #7
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Just go ahead and post your cover videos if you want. Nothing will happen to you. At worst the video may get taken down, and you may get banned (if you continue breaking the rules). But I wouldn't really expect to get paid. You need to be pretty popular to make money, and that's really not going to happen by playing basic covers. There are already a lot of guitar covers on Youtube, so it will be hard to stand out by doing exactly the same thing as the 100 other users that post guitar covers.
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Old 06-17-2015, 04:43 PM   #8
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You're not going to make any money playing covers on YouTube unless you become partner to a network like FullScreen or networks similar to it who have licensed a library of songs that you're allowed to use for covers and monetize them. Unfortunately, it's a pretty limited library and usually only includes the most popular songs out there. FullScreen also takes a percentage of your revenue earned from your videos. Also, some labels/artists allow revenue sharing for covers, but this is also pretty limited so unless you're getting tens of thousands of views per video, you'll be making pocket change from doing covers or nothing at all. If you do your own arrangements of the songs (ie. Rob Scallon's banjo covers), it won't be picked up by YouTube's copyright filter and you'll be allowed to monetize them without permission. But, I'm not totally sure how those guys do it and get away with it, I'm assuming they're partnered with a network that allows them to use copyrighted songs for their own material.

As for playing along to tabs and making money from it, I'm not sure if that's infringing on copyrights of the tab creator or not, I'm assuming it doesn't though as tabs themselves can be considered copyright infringement and taken down if they're not approved/licensed by the original artist and label (which 99% of tabs on UG aren't). There are other loopholes you'll have to jump through before worrying about that though.
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Old 06-17-2015, 06:10 PM   #9
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So violating not only the artists' and labels' copyrights but also the tab creators' and UG's?


Better tell that to all the cover bands in the world then!
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Old 06-17-2015, 06:27 PM   #10
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Better tell that to all the cover bands in the world then!


I'm guessing you don't know much about copyright. When a band performs a cover song with the intent of monetary gain, the copyright holder is entitled to receive payment. Because this would obviously be very troublesome to monitor, bands are registered with licensing companies, with BMI, ASCAP, AND SESAC being the biggest.

The venues are required to pay the licensing companies fees based on how much they earn. Anywhere that plays music, both live or recorded, does this as well. That includes radio stations, schools, sports arenas, dance clubs, etc. So in this way, the artist might ultimately receive something, though probably not much.

At any rate, the majority of cover bands tend to play classic rock songs from very well known artists that are either dead or making tons of money anyway.
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Old 06-17-2015, 08:21 PM   #11
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Good luck with that, making money on Youtube is incredibly difficult by music alone. Revenue is calculated by minutes watched, and most songs (unless you play exclusively prog) will be around 3-4 minutes, which really isn't that long. Not to mention you need A LOT of views per video in order to make any sort of noticeable income, and if you want it to be sustainable you'd need to do at least 1-2 per week. Most musicians on youtube use it as a platform for sharing and getting a bit of popularity, and they make their real money from playing live or selling their own music. And let's be real, if all you're going to do is play songs tabbed out by other people that have been done a million times before, unless your production quality is through the roof, don't expect to be that popular. You need to be original, otherwise expect this to be a low pay hobby.

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Old 06-17-2015, 08:36 PM   #12
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Sure. Get permission from the one holding publishing rights to the songs you want to cover and go for it! What have you got to lose? Youtube is part of the Tommy Emmanuel income stream and he does mostly covers. Serious talent though.

Let us know how it goes.
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Old 06-17-2015, 08:54 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Jimjambanx
Good luck with that, making money on Youtube is incredibly difficult by music alone. Revenue is calculated by minutes watched, and most songs (unless you play exclusively prog) will be around 3-4 minutes, which really isn't that long. Not to mention you need A LOT of views per video in order to make any sort of noticeable income, and if you want it to be sustainable you'd need to do at least 1-2 per week. Most musicians on youtube use it as a platform for sharing and getting a bit of popularity, and they make their real money from playing live or selling their own music. And let's be real, if all you're going to do is play songs tabbed out by other people that have been done a million times before, unless your production quality is through the roof, don't expect to be that popular. You need to be original, otherwise expect this to be a low pay hobby.


More like a "no pay" hobby.

You need to have a certain number of channel subscribers, not just views, in order to qualify for youtube's profit sharing program. And you will NEVER get even close to that number if all you're doing is amateur covers of songs that you learn from tabs on this site. You'd be insanely lucky to reach even a small fraction of that.

Seriously. Not trying to be mean, just realistic. If all you want to do is learn your favorite songs from reading tabs, and play them the same way they've been played a billion times, give up now, on ever making money from it. Keep your day job. The music industry is not designed to support people who aren't even trying to make anything new. Nor should it be.

If you want even a chance of making money off of youtube, you need to offer something original, and it needs to be GOOD. Even then, you've probably got a better chance winning the lottery. You know how many other amateurs are out there trying to do the exact same thing? And most of them are probably better at it than you. And they're probably never going to make a living off of it, either.

If you want to make money playing other people's music, join a cover band. Get extremely good at playing those songs. Try to book gigs at medium-large bars, or even casinos if you're in the right area.
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Old 06-17-2015, 08:55 PM   #14
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if you're still using tabs you're probably not good enough to do covers
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Old 06-17-2015, 09:49 PM   #15
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I somehow doubt that people doing this are making any significant money from YouTube. If someone is good enough, the money is in actual performance or recording.
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Old 06-17-2015, 10:13 PM   #16
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Some people do make money. Walk off the Earth is an example of a group that has been invited by youtube to be a partner. They also tour regularly and their youtube income is only one stream.

But...they have some real talent, creativity, and originality going for them as well as excellent production. They do mostly covers but the way they do them really makes them stand out from the crowd. The Gotye cover of five players one guitar is still pretty awesome to watch, but it exploded when it came out and although they were youtube partners before that I would imagine that their income grew significantly after that video.

Another guy that does well on youtube playing covers is Sungha Jung. He was on youtube when he was quite young and has been on there for what must be at least 6 years. He is incredibly talented and dedicated. He records a ton of songs and has earned himself over three million subscribers. He has also gone on tour with guys like Tommy Immanuel etc. He didn't set out to make money on youtube though he just wanted to share his songs. The talent/dedication this kid has though is really quite rare. He does mostly his own arrangements of popular songs. A big part of his appeal initially was that he looked very young and seemed to be absurdly talented for his apparent age. Initially it was almost a gimmick.

If you really want to make some money on youtube then you better be exceptional, have great production, original, and creative. Memorizing some tabs and playing them on youtube...doesn't work. The tabs are usually an attempt at playing like the studio versions of the song. Most of the time a viewer can just get the actual version of that song on youtube. They won't want to listen to you play it. It is very few people outside of your family and friends that would even want to watch such a video. Possibly some other guitar players. But half of them will be wanting to learn how to play it and will be looking or ideas and or instructional videos. Then you'll have people that are interested in seeing what else is out there and many of them may have their own videos and visit your's just long enough to comment asking you to watch their video.

It's definitely worth doing so that you can put yourself out there. But don't expect to make money off it and don't look at it like a job option.
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Old 06-18-2015, 05:06 AM   #17
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if you're still using tabs you're probably not good enough to do covers

And why is that?
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Old 06-18-2015, 06:13 AM   #18
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^ I agree with Hail.

If you need to use tabs to figure out how to play something, the thought of making money by posting cover versions on Youtube is pretty unrealistic.

Of course you can play covers and use tabs. There's nothing wrong with that. But it should tell something about your skill level. And at that skill level it is pretty unrealistic to expect to get so many views/subscribes that you would get paid.
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Old 06-18-2015, 07:36 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Jimjambanx
Good luck with that, making money on Youtube is incredibly difficult by music alone. Revenue is calculated by minutes watched, and most songs (unless you play exclusively prog) will be around 3-4 minutes, which really isn't that long. Not to mention you need A LOT of views per video in order to make any sort of noticeable income, and if you want it to be sustainable you'd need to do at least 1-2 per week. Most musicians on youtube use it as a platform for sharing and getting a bit of popularity, and they make their real money from playing live or selling their own music. And let's be real, if all you're going to do is play songs tabbed out by other people that have been done a million times before, unless your production quality is through the roof, don't expect to be that popular. You need to be original, otherwise expect this to be a low pay hobby.


I'm not really wanting to start the channel for money, I love playing my guitar and recording videos and I was just wondering if I'll be able to make some extra pocket money from the channel. The songs I want to play are mostly from anime. I know how to get my videos really popular so I could definitely get people to notice me. I have a channel (not related to covers) that has 2 videos, one 600k and one 800k views even though the genre has a lot of competition.
Well, I'll try to get the channel going, let people know about my videos and see how it turns out
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Old 06-18-2015, 08:02 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by blackomen52
I'm not really wanting to start the channel for money, I love playing my guitar and recording videos and I was just wondering if I'll be able to make some extra pocket money from the channel. The songs I want to play are mostly from anime. I know how to get my videos really popular so I could definitely get people to notice me. I have a channel (not related to covers) that has 2 videos, one 600k and one 800k views even though the genre has a lot of competition.
Well, I'll try to get the channel going, let people know about my videos and see how it turns out


I'm actually good friends with a youtuber who does anime covers, she's been doing it for a long time, has great production quality as of late, and is quick to get covers of new anime done because she learns them by ear, this way she can make the most of anime seasonal popularity. And she still doesn't make any money off of her videos (though she has recently been endorsed by two companies). I'm sorry man but it's a lost cause, if you want to do it just for fun then by all means it's a lot of fun and I recommend doing it, but you can pretty much guarantee you won't make any revenue, or at least anything outside of single digit figures. The way anime covers work is that people don't really sub to guys who do it, when a show they like comes out they usually look up covers of it then, so it's pretty difficult to get any notoriety either.
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