Hookd on the Music: How YouTube's New Music Licensing App is a Game Changer

September 18, 2017

For most Internet users, YouTube is a ubiquitous platform that is a “go-to” for content.  Whether it be for entertainment, educational purposes, news, or to watch the world’s most talented dog perform tricks, YouTube is a platform that has a little bit of something for everyone.  In an estimated month, the site is said to have as many as 1 billion active users, making YouTube one of the most high-trafficked sites in the world.  Although there have been some legitimate grumblings about YouTube’s sheer online dominance, the company’s market-consolidation has allowed for average individuals from around the globe to create and promote their own original content on a single, easily accessible medium. This has led to numerous success stories along the way, with YouTube providing a platform for success for stars including Jamie Oliver, Justin Bieber, Carly Rae Jepsen, and companies such as Vice and Vice News.  While the aforementioned content creators are among the lucky few able to achieve breakout success, the vast majority of YouTube’s most popular content creators rely on mixing innovative ideas and creative “original content” with current culture trends in order to attract the broadest audience possible.
One of the easiest ways for content creators to achieve this balance is to feature popular music within their videos in order to peek the interest of potential viewers.  To the common eye, this would seem to be a fairly straightforward technique.  However, music licensing is one of YouTube’s largest pieces of business, with the company having paid upwards of $3 billion for publishing and licensing rights since its inception.  As such, YouTube has stringent content regulation rules regarding the usage of commercial music in its user’s videos.  In the past, if such rules were violated, remedies could include the removal of the video, reallocation of a creator’s ad revenues, and even dissolution of a creator’s account. Additionally, YouTube employs a Content-ID rule that virtually blocks a large majority of music from being used in most content that appears on YouTube.
This has caused great ire for many content creators. Most notably, some argue that YouTube’s current Content-Id licensing system is overly robust, and as a result limits a content creator’s creative freedoms in choosing how they market their platform. Thus, the need for a change in policy was reasoned on the fact that if YouTube was still going to be a professional launch pad for content creators, then it needed to allow users the flexibility to create what they wanted without fear of being reprimanded.

In an effort to address this issue, YouTube announced this past week that they will be implementing a new music licensing platform called Hookd, which is described as “the world’s first pre-cleared, commercial music licensing solution for online video creators.”

Hookd, the creation of former music executive Paul Sampson, aims to provide fair compensation to artists for the use of their compositions, while “enabl[ing] users to license commercial tracks legally to use within their [original] content.”  Hookd will use a ‘pay-per-license’ system, charging “£7 to £150 per track” depending on the content creator’s average viewership per video on their page. This extra revenue will be split amongst artists, music publishers, and YouTubers, thus allowing content creators to use commercialized work without fear of “having their ad-revenue blocked” or their pages terminated. Notably, Hookd will also provide a service that will delete music that has not been cleared out of content creators current videos and replace them with songs out of the new Hookd catalogue. Currently, there are several thousand pre-cleared songs available, with tens of thousands to be added in the coming months.  When all is said and done, YouTube and the creators of Hookd hope that this new service will be a step forward for both content creators and artists, allowing for a more streamlined and reliable service to fill in the notable gaps in YouTube’s Content-ID system.  Only time will tell whether this service will be a success, however it cannot be denied that the potential for creating a new precedent is great with Hookd.