YouTube Shorts creators can now use up to a minute of licensed music

The longer license will apply to 'most tracks.'


In YouTube’s latest move to woo TikTok creators onto YouTube Shorts, the streaming giant announced today that short-term video creators would soon be allowed up to a minute of copyrighted music in their Shorts. The change is a significant boost from the previous 15-second limit for any licensed song.

YouTube says its short-form creators will be able to use between 30 and 60 seconds of licensed music “for most tracks.” However, some songs will remain on the previous 15-second limit, with licensing agreements determining which tracks fall in which window. Creators can quickly see how much time each song allows in the YouTube app’s audio picker. The new song-length options begin rolling out today and will continue “over the next few weeks” on iOS and Android.

As user-created videos have exploded during the past decade, aggressive DMCA takedown notices have become a headache for streamers on all platforms. Record labels often automate their copyright enforcement, leading to overzealous claims. For example, creators have seen their videos flagged for accidentally including a few seconds of copyrighted audio from a passing car’s stereo. Some police officers have even exploited the DMCA to their advantage, blasting Taylor Swift songs to prevent bystanders from sharing their legally recorded videos.

The song-limit boost is YouTube’s latest attempt to woo TikTok creators (and therefore viewers and ad dollars) onto Shorts. In September, the company announced an ad-revenue sharing program to give qualified creators a 45 percent cut of ad revenue, regardless of whether they use music. TikTok launched a similar sharing program earlier this year following widespread complaints about its previous “static pool of money” approach.

YouTube’s aggressive approach appears to be paying off, with Shorts tallying views from over 1.5 billion logged-in users per month. As of September 2021, TikTok had racked up 1 billion monthly users. However, given YouTube’s overall dominance in the video space, those numbers likely include people who were already on YouTube watching other content. TikTok’s numbers, on the other hand, more clearly include people looking for its distinctive short-form videos — an audience that YouTube and other media giants like Meta are continuing to chase.