June 24, 2021

YouTube Is About To Change Its Terms Of Service, And Artists Aren’t Going To Like It

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If you have a YouTube channel (who doesn’t), you probably received a recent email from the platform stating a change in their terms of service agreement. If you’re like many, your eyes glazed over if you even read it, but it signaled some significant changes that will definitely affect how much you get paid in the future. Even if you’re not seeing much revenue, it’s still worth noting, because you might not like it.

The 2 major points that will really make a difference are:

  • YouTube’s right to monetize: YouTube has the right to monetize all content on the platform and ads may appear on videos from channels not in the YouTube Partner Program.
  • Royalty payments and tax withholding: For creators entitled to revenue payments, such payments will be treated as royalties from a U.S. tax perspective and Google will withhold taxes where required by law.”

If you’re an artist who would rather not have ads on your music videos, the first point will seem especially harsh. Until now, you could just opt out of any advertising and no ads would be inserted on your selected videos as a result. No more. YouTube now has the right to insert ads into your videos whether you want them or not, or whether you qualify to make money from them or not.

The second point in the email just ads salt to the wound. Let’s say that you decide that you might as well make some money from the ads since they’re going to appear anyway. Then you have enough view time to qualify for YouTube’s Partner Program that allows you to monetize them. Google (which owns YouTube) will now withhold taxes from the royalties that you earn. Even though you might not be making much already from the platform’s meager payout, now you’ll make even less!

These terms of service changes went into effect on June 1st so you might be seeing ads on your videos already and wondering why they’re there. Now you know, and you never had a say in it.


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