UGC 101: How Production Music companies can generate more music revenue from UGC platforms

In this blog post, we’ll share expert tips on how to grow your catalog revenue on TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram/Facebook. Whether you’re a seasoned rights owner or just starting out, we’ll guide you on how to build an effective user-generated content (UGC) strategy.

If you have questions after reading this article or are looking to gett more revenue out of your music on TikTok, YouTube or Meta (Instagram and Facebook), we invite you to get in touch with our team to learn how you could be generating more revenue across UGC platforms. 

1. Upload your music to UGC platforms

To tap into the exponential growth of UGC and growing revenue potential, you as music rights owners first need to upload your music to social media platforms for users to engage with. 

There are three ways you can make your music accessible to creators on UGC platforms.

  1. Make your music available through a distributor
  2. Gain access to each platform’s Content Management System
  3. Manage your music through a Rights Management Company

1. Make your music available through a distributor

Whether you’re an individual artist or a more established label, distributors can help place your music on popular platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, and sometimes UGC platforms too. This mass market option is a viable alternative for those who either currently aren’t in a position to sign with Rights Management Companies like Orfium, or aren’t affiliated with a label.

Not all distributors have partnerships with UGC platforms though, and if you do have one you may have to ask if they can handle the uploading process for you. Distributors who do UGC distribution often collect revenue for rights owners, so you’ll rely on them to take care of the tasks listed in the next section.

2. Gain access to each social platform’s Content Management System (CMS)

What is a CMS?

Content Management Systems (CMS) are essentially a personal dashboard to the backend of social media platforms. They offer a basic level of usage monitoring, revenue tracking and a place to manage potential copyright infringements. Each platform has its own CMS for rights owners: TikTok has MediaMatch, YouTube has ContentID and Meta has RightsManager. These systems enable rights owners to upload metadata and tracks to their platforms – from sound recordings to compositions.

Each CMS will require rights owners to register and wait for approval from the platform. This can be a tricky process. For all of them, the size of your catalog is a factor. Currently, only the largest rights owners with the most extensive catalogs of music have CMS access. For rights owners who don’t have CMS access, you can go through a third party that already has CMS access – namely a distributor or Rights Management Company.

3. Manage your music through a Rights Management Company

So how does going through a Rights Management Company work? You’ll first need to get your catalog into a music library, such as Extreme Music or 5 Alarm. Then, the music library needs to bring on a Rights Management Company and agree to have them administer the library’s assets on UGC platforms for revenue claiming.

In this scenario, Rights Management Companies like Orfium play a crucial role. They collaborate directly with labels, publishers, production music companies and established rights holders to develop customized services and strategies tailored specifically for UGC platforms. These strategies can include metadata cleanups and handling, asset uploading, revenue collection, usage finding and tracking and everything else in the following sections.

2. Optimize your metadata to boost usage and revenue from UGC platforms

The discoverability and monetization of your music on UGC platforms are directly linked. Accurate and comprehensive metadata is key to boosting discoverability, usage, and revenue. It’s crucial to prioritize organizing and perfecting your metadata before uploading your music. This proactive approach increases the chances of your music being found by users and the use of your music being properly attributed, leading to more monetization opportunities.

What is music metadata?

Music metadata can be considered the digital DNA of a song file. It usually lives as a spreadsheet of data that includes vital information like artist name, song title, album, copyright information, writer names, ISRCs, and territory ownership amongst other details. All of this metadata is the code that allows UGC platforms to understand and categorize music and ownership effectively.

Best practices for handling metadata

To optimize your music’s presence on UGC platforms, you’ll likely need to carry out a comprehensive ‘clean up’ of your metadata. Here are some best practices to consider when sorting and perfecting your metadata:

  1. Pay Attention to Details: Thoroughly review and double-check your metadata for accuracy and completeness. Uniform spacing and capitalization are two things to watch out for which often trip up the upload process.
  2. Provide High-Quality Reference Files: When uploading sound recordings, ensure you have high-quality MP3 or WAV files. These reference files are used by automatic detection systems employed by UGC platforms to identify the usage of your music in videos. The higher the quality, the better the detection.
  3. Unique Reference Files: While detection systems like Content ID (YouTube’s CMS) are effective, they are not perfect. To avoid unnecessary claim and reference overlaps, make sure your reference files are as unique as possible. Be mindful of arrangements and the use of samples when uploading your music.
  4. Research Platform Requirements: Different UGC platforms have varying requirements for metadata and reference files. Research and understand these requirements for each platform to streamline the ingestion process.
  5. Choose a Reputable Rights Management Company: If you opt for a rights management company to handle UGC for you, choose a reputable and trustworthy partner – if it’s not done right, you’ll risk missing out on potential revenue without even knowing it’s lost. Choose a company that is trusted, has proven results, and is happy to put you in touch with existing clients who can provide recommendations.

3. Actively manage your music on UGC platforms

When your music is on one or multiple UGC platforms, keep a close eye on the associated admin tasks to make sure they’re delivering revenue to their full potential. The frequency of these tasks could range from daily to monthly depending on the size and popularity of your catalog. Managing these tasks promptly and thoroughly is crucial to making sure you’re tracking and monetizing accurately, and can be done within the CMS of each platform. 

These tasks can all be handled by your own in-house person or team, by your distributor or by a Rights Management Company.

How and where do I manage my music on TikTok, YouTube or Meta?

Within the CMS lives your assets which will need to be uploaded and managed. 

What this means for rights holders is that you can have control over how your assets are used. 

For example, a route for review to monetize policy can come in handy for production music companies who are licensing music for use on UGC platforms, giving them the ability to approve or deny any automatic claim for monetization before the claim is placed.

To make sure your catalog is being managed in a timely way, you should allocate a team or outsource the responsibility to a Rights Management company. For the majority of rights owners who will not be granted CMS access, this is the best route toward effective and accurate monetization.

How to manage conflicts, disputes & reference overlaps for music on TikTok, YouTube or Meta

The nature of UGC means that vast volumes of creation every minute of every day means that conflicts, disputes and reference overlaps happen very often. But life would not be life without hiccups in the revenue-claiming process. As annoying as these issues can be, each CMS has avenues to solve them. 

Conflicts: This is when two or more parties may be claiming ownership of any given asset. While assets are in conflict any money generated from claims is escrowed and only paid out to the remaining party holding ownership when the conflict is resolved in the form of backpay. 

Ownership conflicts occur when two or more parties place more than 100% ownership on any given asset. When an asset has over 100% ownership between different parties, the conflict will cause all money generated by copyright claims to go into escrow. YouTube will hold this money until the ownership conflict is resolved meaning the percentage of ownership goes back to 100% between all parties. YouTube’s Content Management System allows users to contact third parties to resolve any conflict issues. It is important to stay on top of conflicts as this can be a blocker for paying out the proper earnings on each asset. 

Disputes: When a copyright claim is placed on a video, the uploader of the video has the right to dispute the claim. Once a dispute is placed, the copyright claim is set to inactive. The CMS gives you the ability to accept or reject the dispute by reinstating the claim or releasing the claim.

Reference Overlaps: If two parties ingest the same sound recording this can result in a reference overlap. This can be a portion of the reference or the entire reference. If a reference overlap occurs, you can action the issue by asserting ownership of the sections that overlap or you can exclude the portions that overlap from your reference. 

Copyright claims: When an uploader publishes video content containing copyright material without permission or licensing, they may receive a copyright claim that allows copyright owners to take actions on the material they own. 

The copyright claim will use the asset and the associated policy that has been chosen by the rights holder to track, monetize, block, etc. 

This is not to be confused with a removal request or a strike. While rights holders have the right to submit a removal request or a strike, a copyright claim does not necessarily mean the video will receive a removal request or a strike. 

If you’re going through a distributor or Rights Management Company, be sure to ask them how frequently these issues will be monitored and tackled by the team handling your catalog. Time is of the essence in all aspects of revenue claiming on UGC. Not all platforms recognize revenues prior to approved claims – so you’ll want to be sure that all possible bumps in the claiming process are being actively handled.

What is manual claiming?

ContentID, MediaMatch, and RightsManager are automated systems that scan user-generated content (UGC) for music usage and generate claims for rights holders. However, these systems are not perfect and struggle to identify deviations from the original source material. As a result, covers, remixes, and fan-recorded live performances (or UGC) often go undetected due to differences in instrumentals or lyrics compared to the original files uploaded by rights owners. This is where manual claiming is crucial.

Manual claiming presents a significant opportunity for Production Music companies, as licensed content is being used and shared on the platform without proper acknowledgment or monetization.

Failure to consistently identify usages and provide accurate timestamps will result in missed revenue opportunities. This is especially critical on TikTok, where revenue is only delivered after a claim has been placed. Historical usage of your tracks before placing a claim will not be considered.

If your Distributor or Rights Management Company is handling manual claims on your behalf, they are likely to employ a fourth-party service with technology or manpower to search for usages not caught by automatic usage trackers. 

Talk to an expert

Interested in working with a third party to manage your music rights across UGC platforms? Orfium works with top Production Music Companies across the world to manage and boost their catalog revenue on UGC platforms. To learn more, get in touch with our team experts.