Rumblefish, YouTube, and Sync Licensing – For CDBaby Members Who Are Also YouTube Partners

I’ve been with CDBaby since 2005 and for the most part, I’ve been pretty happy with them. I am not happy with the structure they have set up with Rumblefish, an independently owned music licensing company that brings you CD Baby’s Sync Licensing service. Since this has been confusing for me and since my queries to YouTube and Rumblefish have gone unanswered, I am writing this.

If you have signed up as a YouTube Partner, you can make money (however little that may be) on ads placed in your videos through your Google Adsense account. It’s free. As long as you own the material you are uploading, the revenue from the ads placed in your videos will be paid directly to you.

Shortly after opting in to Sync Licensing on CD Baby, I received multiple notifications from YouTube that my existing videos had been identified as containing copyrighted content, specifically that the sound recordings were administered by Rumblefish. To date, I’ve received six emails informing me of matched content in six of my videos. All of the videos in question are just still-image uploads of songs from my albums that are also already in my CD Baby catalogue. This screenshot shows what the notifications on YouTube look like.

Here’s the problem: I have no need for a third party like Rumblefish or CD Baby to administer copyright on music I wrote and own that are included in videos I create and upload to my own YouTube Channel. I thought I was signing up with Rumblefish to track if anyone else uploads a video containing my music.

Rumblefish and CD Baby both assure that these notifications are normal and that no action is required of you. They also ask that you not question the validity of the claim.

This is from CD Baby’s FAQ:

“If you login to your YouTube account and see a copyright notice next to your videos– don’t worry! CD Baby has partnered with Rumblefish to collect money for the usage of your music in videos (This includes videos you upload). This notice means the content ID system identified your song and it’s now setup to generate revenue for that video. You don’t need to take action. Neither CD Baby or Rumblefish are claiming ownership of your song.”

This is from Rumblefish’s FAQ:

“The YouTube content ID system asserts claims on music content represented by Rumblefish that you have likely included in your video. The video is yours, the music is ours, both parties retain ownership of their separate assets. Exactly how it should be.”

Except that no, the music is mine. It’s not ours. I think the distinction between the artist’s YouTube Channel and all other Channels that upload that artist’s music is an important one. Separating the two should be CD Baby and Rumblefish’s default arrangement with the artist – unless for some unlikely reason Rumblefish pays the artist more than YouTube. I have not found information on either site regarding what the payout through Rumblefish would be as opposed to what the direct payout through YouTube would be. I have to assume that by involving CD Baby and Rumblefish, I am signing over a cut of what YouTube would pay me directly to CD Baby and Rumblefish for doing exactly the service YouTube already offers me for free. If this is not the case then please, somebody from CD Baby or Rumblefish, explain it to me. My understanding is this – when I upload music to YouTube that I own and enable monetization, YouTube runs ads from which I’ll be paid directly. When someone else uploads my music, that’s where I need Rumblefish and CD Baby to identify and manage the licensing.

Turns out, buried nearly at the bottom of CD Baby’s FAQ there is a solution. You have to fill out a separate form for each album in question and list the URL for each video in question. I have now done this for all six videos. Here is the CD Baby Rumblefish Content ID Opt Out form. This is from the CD Baby FAQ:

“Rumblefish will relinquish their claim to your videos, but still be authorized to collect ad revenue for any videos that OTHER people upload using your music.”

This leads me to assume that they are not only aware of the distinction between an artist uploading their own work and somebody else uploading that artist’s work, but they have intentionally made it confusing and difficult for the artist to claim that distinction.

And this, from the form, lets me know I have more email notifications in my near future for each of my other original song videos, and that I will be repeating this process for every future addition to my CD Baby catalogue:

“Note that this form only works for any content for which a claim already exists. If you haven’t received a notice from YouTube yet, you’ll need to wait until Rumblefish claims the content to use this form.”

I hope that helps clear up confusion to anyone else who has been getting emails from YouTube informing them that the music they own has been identified as Rumblefish’s. If I am misinformed about any of this, please inform me. If there is a better way to set up and handle music licensing on YouTube, by all means tell me about it.




2 thoughts on “Rumblefish, YouTube, and Sync Licensing – For CDBaby Members Who Are Also YouTube Partners”

  1. Thanks, Logan. I was stumbling through this difficult query today, and I think your article has saved me a lot of time researching and comparing my options. Happy to have what appears to be the correct solution so eloquently bookmarked. Best of luck, and keep touch!


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