Sites & Services

Audiam, AdRev, and YouTube Content ID


Someone is using your song in their video, and they didn’t ask. What do you do?

You could tell them to remove it, or even report it to YouTube. It wouldn’t make you any friends, but you’d most certainly be within your rights.

Or, you could just ignore it. It’s exposure, right? Even if you’re not properly credited, it’s always nice to know people are hearing your music.

There’s actually a middle ground that many musicians don’t know about. You can upload your songs to a service like Audiam or AdRev. They use YouTube’s Content ID system to check for matches, slap ads on infringing videos, and pay you a share of the ad revenue.

Way back in August of 2013, I set out to compare the two services for the purpose of writing this article.


I uploaded 8 of my most popular songs to Audiam for fingerprinting. It found 40 videos with approximately 100,000 cumulative views, as of today.

Audiam claims

For example, this Spanish cooking video has 41K views, and uses my song “We’re Not Getting Any Younger” throughout.

Big bucks for me, right? More like $3. Not just for the video above. That’s the total payout for all 40 videos since I’ve been with Audiam.

Audiam money

Hold on, you say. Only $3 for 100K views?

Almost certainly not. Audiam’s view count isn’t very helpful, because it reflects total views rather than views since my ads were placed. For all I know, 98K of those views occured pre-Audiam.


I uploaded 214 other tracks to AdRev, using its convenient bulk upload feature. As of today, its found 156 matching videos (click for full size):

AdRev claims

Cumulative views are in the low thousands, but that count reflects only views with my ads. Now that’s the information I want! I can even see how many views each video got on a monthly basis.

The most popular is a cosmetics ad using my song “Two” throughout:

To date I’ve earned $4.73 from that video, and $11.56 total from AdRev.

Underwhelmed and confused

Now, this stuff is complicated, and my analysis is superficial. I don’t pretend to be an expert in the ever-changing intricacies of copyright law as it applies to sync licensing. Audiam has an excellent FAQ that breaks things down nicely.

What I do know is that YouTube has been scouring its catalog for traces of my songs for a year and a half now, and I’ve got $15 to show for over 200 videos.

So really, the question isn’t so much which one you should use, but whether or not you should use one at all.

Wait, what?

You’re probably thinking, sure, it’s only a few bucks, but what have you got to lose?

In my case, people ask me if they can use my music in their videos on a regular basis. I pretty much always say yes. Problem is, if I don’t remember to submit the URL of their video to Audiam or AdRev, they receive a scary copyright warning, and ads placed on their video.

“But you said I could use your song!”

Or maybe someone doesn’t ask, and uses my music in their birthday slideshow. They receive a copyright warning, ads get put on their video, and they vow never to use my music in their videos again!

Look, I’m not saying you should release all your music under a Creative Commons license, and let anybody use it for anything. At the same time, if a fan wants to use your music in their video, that’s always a good thing in my book!

I’d love a service that shows me every video containing my music, and lets me place ads on only the ones I select. Better yet, let me set a threshold, so that once a video reaches a certain number of views, ads are placed. Or place them automatically if the channel has over, say, 100 subscribers. Or both!

Since you asked, the verdict

Of the two, I prefer AdRev. The bulk upload is handy, and the data they provide is slightly more useful. Here’s my affiliate link if you’d like to sign up (they send one to every user). The way it works is, if anyone who signs up with my link makes $100 in the first year, they’ll also pay me $100. Pretty unlikely!

The other big player in the field is Rumblefish, who I was with via a partnership with CD Baby for… a few years? I don’t remember. After dozens of attempts to get them to stop flagging my own videos, I decided to pull the plug. I raked in a handsome $8.35.

Bottom line, I’ve got better things to do with my time than chase pennies from YouTube.

Am I wrong? Wouldn’t be the first time. Convince me otherwise!

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  • Reply
    MikS Music
    May 6, 2015 at 12:05 pm

    Hi Brian,

    Actually it’s really easy to retract AdRev copyright claims. I routinely do this for people who license my music. Yes, it does take certain extra work but it allows me to effectively track the usage and to monetize all unlicensed use. I do have to mention that I make music specifically for marketing and corporate videos, so in my case I find it well it worth the effort.


    • Reply
      Brian Hazard
      May 8, 2015 at 3:19 pm

      Good stuff Mik!

      I suppose I should break out a spreadsheet one of these days, and keep track of who I granted permission to use my music. It might double as a nice portfolio.

  • Reply
    Ronilson Alves
    June 12, 2015 at 9:02 pm

    HI Brian, could you tell me how long it took for the Audiam identify songs on Youtube?

    • Reply
      Brian Hazard
      June 13, 2015 at 7:07 pm

      I’m really not sure. I didn’t check in very often. I would imagine all the services are the same in that regard since they’re all using YouTube Content ID.

  • Reply
    July 19, 2015 at 7:19 am

    Hi Brian,
    Regarding Rumblefish, I’m also a partner through CDBaby and actually got them (by emailing CDBaby) to “white-list” my channels, so that I can take all the add revenues on those ones. And also I received about 30$ in the first year with them, and this money seems to be for only one song that was licensed through them (I don’t know if it was used on YouTube or elsewhere, because they don’t provide details…:)).

    • Reply
      Brian Hazard
      July 19, 2015 at 5:49 pm

      That’s nice that CD Baby can do it directly! Back when I was with Rumblefish, they posted a takedown form that they seemed to ignore. I sent it to them many, MANY times.

  • Reply
    ed “mobiledecay” jon
    October 24, 2015 at 9:05 pm

    Yeah how dare someone like your song enough to use it in there video and get it recognized so they can look up the artist! Bastards! Come on i’m a musician and if someone used a song I wrote in a video I would be thanking them for it! Why do people get so pissy over it. Wah it’s my song remove it. Boohoo! You sound like a 5 year old throwing a tantrum. The person likes your music! Your gonna punish them for it? Screw off!

    • Reply
      Brian Hazard
      October 25, 2015 at 2:34 pm

      Go get ’em tiger.

      • Reply
        Solo Ripper
        October 25, 2015 at 3:09 pm

        Got nothing real to say huh? Keep shitting on your fans. See where it gets you. This is my other account because chrome won’t let me log into anything else.

        • Reply
          Brian Hazard
          October 25, 2015 at 6:04 pm

          Why feed the trolls? If you took the time to read the article, you’d see we’re both recommending the same thing. I just say it in a less caustic way.

  • Reply
    December 26, 2015 at 7:16 pm

    Thank you for this post. I’m an honest YouTuber who buys all of her music, but sometimes I get stuck buying “Royalty Free” music from artists who report their track to Adrev (without informing the buyer), and it takes anywhere from 24hr to a week to get the video released from Adrev.

    By then all of my subscribers ( and I have a pretty big channel) have seen the video already, thus I receive no advertising revenues from that video.

    Is this fair? What did the artist get out of this? I’ll never buy from that person again or support him, in fact I’ll be sure to spread who NOT to buy from to other YouTubers. When I complained to this artist, all I got was a, “I have to protect my music”…… *sigh*

    • Reply
      Brian Hazard
      December 29, 2015 at 4:45 pm

      Thank you Jena! That’s a great argument for not bothering with AdRev or Audiam in the first place. I’m guessing the musician in question is selling their tracks through Rumblefish via CD Baby, and also registering the same tracks with AdRev. Which is just bad form all around!

    • Reply
      February 9, 2016 at 2:08 pm

      Hi Jena,

      As someone who sells music I’d like to offer the composers’ side of things. Yes, we do understand your frustration but “protecting the music” is a very valid argument. Just a year or two ago AdRev was a novelty thing in the royalty free music circles. Now, almost every person I know who makes music for a living has their music registered with AdRev. And that’s not even counting the folks affiliated with the PROs and, as you may know, they will also monetize on YouTube.

      Why we do that? Just last month, one of the most popular RF composer posted in his blog that he finally decided to join AdRev because.. drum roll.. others were registering his tracks and ripping him off. At least the composers CAN retract the claims quickly.

      Now to solve your issue with subscribers: post the video as private, clear the claim, then publish. That’s it.

      Mik @ MikS Music

      • Reply
        Brian Hazard
        February 9, 2016 at 5:07 pm

        Good advice Mik! I didn’t realize Content ID scanned videos marked as private. That simplifies matters!

        • Reply
          February 10, 2016 at 1:15 pm

          Content ID scans all videos, including those not yet published. So another option is to clear the claim before publishing the video. I do agree that’s an inconvenience for the buyer but for every legit buyer I have dozens and dozens of people using the same track without any license, so without adrev there would be no way for us, royalty free composers, to monetize on unauthorized use. Keep in mind that we’re not getting any PRO back-end, so AdRev is really filling the big gap for us.

          • Brian Hazard
            February 10, 2016 at 1:24 pm

            May I ask roughly what kind of payment amounts you’re getting? In my case, as you’ve read in the article, it’s not worth the pennies I’m pulling in.

          • Rob C
            July 1, 2016 at 3:56 am

            Hey Mik, If you have a client who is licensed to use your music, do you still make any revenue from their videos or is it only videos that content ID finds that are unauthorized that pay you? I find it all a bit confusing really.

  • Reply
    Rob C
    July 1, 2016 at 3:58 am

    Thanks for the article Brian,
    I’m just starting to get into this side of things after making music for years. Good info to know, especially the actual figures!

    • Reply
      Brian Hazard
      July 19, 2016 at 8:02 pm

      My pleasure Rob! Thanks for taking the time to read it.

  • Reply
    July 16, 2016 at 2:12 pm

    Good article thanks!
    I have a question on the subject.
    Does anyone know if permitted to upload music to all the sites of this type at the same time? (Adrev, Audiam, Tunesat)


    • Reply
      Brian Hazard
      July 19, 2016 at 8:01 pm

      That would be a huge mistake and a waste of time for all involved. Since they all use the same system (YouTube’s Content ID), you’d have 100% overlap.

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