YouTube is well-known for videos, but a recent Nielsen study revealed 64 percent of teens and young adults go to it to listen to and discover music. The free website, which is owned by Google, has set up advertising deals to help musicians get compensated. But it’s not clear how they’re getting paid — or how much.
“Holiday in Cambodia” by the punk band Dead Kennedys has been streamed on YouTube over 2.5 million times. Guitarist Raymond Pepperell — also known as East Bay Ray — says, overall, Dead Kennedys videos have been watched about 14 million times. But the band has only seen a few hundred dollars.
“I don’t know — and no one I know knows — how YouTube calculates the money,” he says. Pepperell says the band has been in talks with YouTube, and the company told the musicians that the site takes 45 percent of ad revenue generated by their videos. But, he says, YouTube won’t tell them how much that is.
“What YouTube claims is irrelevant until they produce how much they’ve made off my band and how much they’ve shared with my band,” he says. “Don’t let them bull s- – – you that it’s too complicated.”
But other musicians say they’ve seen benefits from YouTube — even if they haven’t seen much money.
OK Go was a little-known band until it released a video shot in lead singer Damian Kulash’s backyard. The band’s videos have been viewed upwards of 200 million times, according to their manager, Jamie Kitman. He says he can’t reveal how much the band made, but, he says, “If that was your only source of revenue, you know, it would be time not only to not quit your day job but time to get a night job to supplement it.”