A new music platform, Uppbeat, aims to make it easier for YouTubers and other content creators to find high quality free music for their videos. Designed to handle the complexities of copyright claims while adequately compensating artists, the system provides an alternative to existing free music platforms, including YouTube's own audio library and Creative Commons legal music for videos.
The idea for the startup came from Lewis Foster and Matt Russell, the UK-based co-founders of another music licensing company, Music Vine, which has been in business for about six years.
Last year, the co-founders realized that there was a growing opportunity to address the creative space with a slightly different product.
"We found more and more that the creators' space – YouTubers, streamers, podcasters – had gotten huge, but there wasn't a music platform that did a good job for this type of user," explains Foster. “So we sat down and thought about what the perfect music resource for creators would look like. That led to the decision to build Uppbeat, ”he says.
They started developing the Uppbeat website in September 2020 and opened it to the public on Monday.
On the creator side, Uppbeat's main focus is on eliminating copyright claims headaches, especially on YouTube.
If a YouTuber is currently getting a copyright claim on music in their video, it can result in a loss of income. Although YouTube has worked to fix this problem over the years with new features and changes to the Content ID Match system, it is still a problem.
“If a YouTuber receives a copyright claim, (YouTube) can de-monetize his video. If they go through YouTube's dispute settlement system it can take up to 30 days to resolve. It's a pretty big frustration for YouTubers, ”says Foster.
Uppbeat's music will instead clear the claims almost immediately.
Similar to Spotify, the Uppbeat website uses a freemium model. To get started, developers can sign up for a free account that gives access to around 50% of the music catalog with around 1,000 songs and 10 downloads per month. The paid tariff offers full catalog access and no download limit.
Free users simply add credit to their YouTube video description to clear copyright claims, while paid users are added to an approved list, eliminating that extra step.
As the titles have to be fingerprinted to prevent unlicensed use, there is still a copyright claim. But instead of taking days or weeks to resolve the problem, it clears it up in about five minutes, the company says. The Uppbeat system will delete the claim by checking the video description for the required balance and checking the claim against the list of paid users. Again, everything is automated, which speeds things up.
On the artist side, Uppbeat pays off when their music is used – even by the free users.
The income from the premium subscriptions and soon also from advertising is divided monthly between the artists, in proportion to the number of downloads the artist receives.
"From an artist's point of view, this means, on average, that they earn the same amount with tracks on the premium side as they do on the free side," says Lewis. "It means they get paid to use them for free too," he adds.
The site is also monetized through audio ads that play as you browse the tracks and listen to music. (For now, however, these only promote the paid plan.)
Searching the Uppbeat catalog is also easy. The music is organized by genre, theme, and style in colorful rows that aim to introduce all of the types of music and beats a YouTuber may need. For example, there is music that is tailored to the background and other tracks that take into account different moods such as inspirational, calm, happy, dramatic and more. A catalog of SFX (sound effects) is expected to be added in a few months.
Uppbeat believes the music industry's existing connections with producers, composers and songwriters through Music Vine will help them source higher quality tracks than other free music services.
The startup is currently funded by Music Vine revenue, but Foster says they had some VC interest. At the moment, however, the founders are trying to keep most of the property in-house.
However, Uppbeat is experimenting with both a referral program and a profit sharing program. The latter enables YouTubers who win Uppbeat new customers to generate the full turnover of these customers for two years.
"We're making a massive sacrifice," admits Foster. "From our point of view, however, we are happy to share this (revenue) the faster we can bring Uppbeat to market and become known in the YouTuber sector." We think it's a cool idea to share this with the YouTuber community instead of making a big private investment, ”he notes.
The startup is also considering giving a few larger YouTubers shares in the company, Foster added.
Today Uppbeat is a team of 8 employees and 12 freelancers based in Leeds, UK.