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$4 billion paid to the music industry in last 12 months

  • By Lyor Cohen
  • Global Head of Music, YouTube
  • Jun.02.2021
$4 billion paid to the music industry in last 12 months
Of the $4 billion total, 30% is from user-generated content (UGC). YouTube added more paid members in Q1 '21 than any quarter since launch.

Many of my friends in the music industry have asked why I came to work for YouTube. Even to this day – after 40 years working in music – my 90-year-old mother still asks me what I do for a living.


I came to work for YouTube because I believe in its potential to help shepherd a golden age for the music business. I’m so proud to share that YouTube has paid over $4 billion to the music industry in the last 12 months alone and has added more paid members in Q1 ’21 than in any other quarter since launch. 

... our goal is to become the leading revenue generator for the music industry and to help artists around the world build a career making music.”

I’ve seen this industry evolve from an audio business, to an audio-visual business, and now – as my friend Chuck D puts it – to a visual-audio business. As a visual-audio platform, our goal is to become the leading revenue generator for the music industry and to help artists around the world build a career making music. We are uniquely positioned to achieve this goal because YouTube monetizes the end-to-end music experience globally:


YouTube is the world’s largest stage, and advertisers are eager to tap into the deep music engagement that the platform enables.”

  • Accelerating our twin-engine growth: Through our ad-supported free tier in 180 countries and subscription tiers in 96 countries, we give users the choice to pay with their attention or their wallets. YouTube is the world’s largest stage, and advertisers are eager to tap into the deep music engagement that the platform enables. With over 2 billion users watching music videos monthly, YouTube allows advertisers to reach audiences they can’t find anywhere else. In addition, we added more paid members in Q1 ’21 than in any other quarter in our history. 



  • Growing viewership and revenue with unique fan content: Of the more than $4 billion generated for artists, songwriters, and rights-holders in the last 12 months, over 30% has come from UGC. Fan-powered videos have always flourished on YouTube, helping artists grow their audiences and break songs around the world. We’re thrilled it’s now also become a meaningful and incremental source of revenue alongside premium music content.


  • Finding new sources of revenue: We’re continuing to innovate with direct-to-fan products such as ticketing, merch, memberships, paid digital goods, and virtual ticketed events. BLACKPINK’s paid virtual concert  – THE SHOW – sold nearly 280,000 channel memberships across 81 countries and helped the group earn 2.7 million new subscribers to their official artist channel. 

These days when my mom asks me what I do for a living, I tell her I’m helping to make sure the next Kurt Cobain doesn’t have to become a dentist.”

Building the best music experience for fans and empowering all artists to grow their careers are mission-critical for us. I couldn’t be more excited about the music industry’s future. These days when my mom asks me what I do for a living, I tell her I’m helping to make sure the next Kurt Cobain doesn’t have to become a dentist.


With love and respect, 


Lyor Cohen