Exploration.io's Aaron Davis on Maximizing YouTube and SoundCloud (Q&A)

Aaron Davis helps content owners take maximum advantage of YouTube and SoundCloud via the services of Exploration.io, the comprehensive digital media management company he founded and where he serves as CEO. Last month, Davis spoke at a SESAC-sponsored panel at the Billboard Latin Music Conference in April about analyizing, optimizing and ultimately monetizing content. Billboard caught up with Davis for further advice. 

Billboard: What is the most common mistake artists and labels make when it comes to their YouTube accounts?
Davis: The most costly mistake we encounter is metadata being entered incorrectly or not at all. This affects a variety of interested parties, from writers and composers, artists, labels, publishers, distributors, and YouTube itself. It may take a bit more time to ensure all attribution is correct, but that work goes a long way moving forward and has the added bonus of building good relationships by being a good neighbor to fellow publishers and labels. When the metadata is incorrect, YouTube's content ID system does not work nearly as effectively, interested parties are not recognized (or paid), and money isn't generated at all or is simply held in escrow.  

Beyond metadata, make sure your account is enabled for mobile viewing. Mobile views on YouTube accounted for 6% in 2011.  Viewing coming from mobile devices jumped to 23% in 2012 and up to 40% in 2013.  It's a small distinction to make sure mobile viewing is enabled, but it can have a huge impact. Also, make sure your account is monetization enabled. You must have an Adsence account created so YouTube (Google) knows where to send the money. Having an account is only half the battle, though -- you must also make sure you have monetization enabled.  

I have 10 million views on a video that I posted a year ago. How can I collect income from this?
If a video that has 10 million views has not been showing ads since it was uploaded, you probably will not be able to collect any money, as none has been generated. That being said, if ads have been displayed and YouTube is unclear where to send any payment, as a result of incorrect metadata or a video in dispute, the money can be held in escrow. In this case, once the interested parties are identified, YouTube system will automatically release the funds to those entitled to them. Ensure monetization settings are turned on and metadata is correct so that moving forward you will be compensated for all views that accrue.  

There are many hit singles with multiple cover versions up on YouTube. How can that revenue be collected?
Metadata is what helps writers, composers, and publishers get recognized . . . and paid, for their hard work. If someone records a cover of a song, then the writer or composer of that title can absolutely be claimed, but only for the composition. The video and audio are owned by the person that made the video. If the video is monetized, the funds are split between those interested parties.

Many acts have followings in many territories. How much of a challenge is this? 
This is a good thing and a big reason as to why YouTube can be such a powerful channel for distribution. As soon as content is published, it is available for viewing in 256 territories around the world. Now, all territories do not allow monetization, but nearly all do.

Knowing that people from around the world are viewing one's content is a good lead in to how YouTube can help drive the offline facets of one's business as well.  Right inside one's YouTube account, one can view deep analytics on who is viewing the video. One can see when they are watching, how long they are watching, and most importantly, from where they are watching.  

Additionally, making sure that your songs are registered correctly with your PRO is crucial. In most territories outside the United States, YouTube accounts for monetized views to the PROs in the respective territories which can filter back to your publisher or your local PRO.  

If you could give one single piece of advice, what would it be?
If you enjoy using YouTube, use it. Never mind yesterday. Never mind what you haven't done or didn't realize what was important. YouTube is yours to use. Your fans are there. Use it to grow.