YouTube Says It Has Paid $4 Billion to Music Industry In Last 12 Months

Lyor Cohen
Richard Bord/Getty Images for Cannes Lions

Lyor Cohen speaks onstage during the Youtube session at the Cannes Lions Festival 2018 on June 19, 2018 in Cannes, France. 

YouTube Says It Paid $4B to Music Industry In a Year

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 went to creators of user-generated content, underscoring the economic investment the company is making in 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 added 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.

This article was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.