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.

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!


  1. 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.


    1. 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.

    2. but you cant retract fraud by the Harry Fox Agency and Audiam who licences out music to other publishers with out your consent, you need to send a cease and desists to them declaring you never gave permission for them to license any of your work then sue like Emend, its easy to find a class action lawsuit against the HFA (owners of Audiam) for fraud.

      1. I’m sure this stuff happens, but I’ve never encountered it myself. Seven years after the publication of this post, I’ve yet to run into a problem.

    1. 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.

  2. 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…:)).

    1. 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.

  3. 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!

        1. 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.

  4. 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*

    1. 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!

    2. 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

        1. 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.

        2. 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.

        3. 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.

  5. 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!

  6. 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)


    1. 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.

  7. Hello Brian!

    Im watching thus article in 2018, but you wrote it 3 years ago. So, I was wondering, which one it’s better now? (Adrev orcAudiam)

    Also, It is neccesary to use them or by only using Content ID is ok?

    I will appreciate your help.


  8. Hi Brian,

    Nice article even if I see it 3 years later :p

    I have a question. I notice that in the AdRev breakdown you shared there is Earnings Type. And to some it says “Sound recording” and others “Composition”.

    Does that mean that on the ones saying “Sound Recording” you own both the recording copyright (owner of the master) AND the copyrights of the song and on the ones saying “Composition” a label owns the recording copyrights but you own the copyrights of the song?

    Thank you in advance,


    1. I’ve long since cancelled my AdRev account, so I can’t explore further on my own, but in my case, I own everything, so I don’t have to fuss.

      In general, the sound recording would be what the label owns. The composition is the underlying song.

      Perhaps you’re confused by the US copyright form SR, which covers both the sound recording and the underlying song? Normally they’re dealt with separately.

  9. This is not true. If person who uses your music on YouTube doesn’t have YouTube ads on you will get nothing. All of the sites like cdbaby audaim etc say “we will put ads on that video to get you money”, but that is not true.
    If channel that uses your music does not have ads on, cdbaby, audaiam etc will not have power to put ads on that video. So basically you will get money only if channel that uses your music have YouTube ads on. This is why you have so many YouTube views but no money at all.
    Correct me if i’m wrong…

    1. That’s incorrect Nick. Ads get put on and the channel owner can’t turn them off. At least that’s the case for cover songs on my channel. If I could turn off monetization for those videos, I would, since it doesn’t do me any good.

      1. So you saying even if the person has no YouTube monetization turned on YouTube channel, ads will still appear on that video?
        I have couple of copyrighted songs on my channel, and ads do not appear on those songs since I don’t have YouTube monetization on my channel. Song is recognized by ID system but there is no ads on that songs. Hope I clarified what I meant by my comment.

        1. Maybe that’s true if you’ve disabled monetization for the entire channel? I have most, but not all, of my videos monetized. The cover songs are tagged “ineligible” but they are in fact monetized for the copyright holder.

        2. So conclusion is; if your entire channel is not eligible for monetization, and monetization for entire channel is turned off, adrev, audiam etc will not collect any money from those videos. Unfortunately.

        3. I did a little research and don’t see an option to disable monetization for an entire channel. But you’re certainly right in the case of channels not being eligible for monetization. Still, those channels aren’t likely to generate many views, so you’re not missing out on much potential revenue.

          It’s been a long time since I wrote this article, and I haven’t used a ContentID service since. I can see any videos that use my music in the copyright section of YouTube studio anyway, so I know I’m not missing out.

  10. Content ID has made me thousands of dollars indirectly as I contact people who steal my instrumental, then they purchase a license to keep their video up and make up for stealing the song.

    1. That’s fantastic Sean! Nobody of significance has bothered to steal my tracks. It’s nice that we can see matches in YouTube Studio, unlike back when I wrote this article.

  11. Hi!
    It’s really helpful.

    I have one question.

    I’m trying to register my music with Adrev.
    I’m curious about the process after registering the music I produced.

    For example, I’d like to know if I can directly release the YouTube claim made by my music without sending mail to Adrev. (Simply put, i wonder there is the release button to remove the claim in my Adrev account)

    1. I haven’t been on AdRev for years, but I know you can dismiss claims directly, or request a video’s removal, in YouTube Studio under the Copyright tab.

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