As a music producer one of the wisest thing you can do, is to look for opportunities for passive income. You need income sources that bring you money as you sit in your studio, go shopping, take a break to a play video game, etc. There are many types of passive income. Some people have rental properties (high cost, but can be high yield). My roommate at Berklee was an art dealer from Mexico, when he needed more pocket money he would go to the art galleries of Boston and he knew which pieces he could sell quickly for profit. Personally, I have an inventory of used books that I market worldwide for profit via Amazon.
People who create music in Ableton Live, Logic Pro X, FL Studio, etc. should take some time each week and post content for commercial licensing.
With digital sales giving artists/writers so little payment, finding opportunities to place a song in TV/Film/Commercials is the last frontier in terms of strong income sources.
I’d like to share some resources that get your music out there for commercial use. If you’re a band or performing artist, the music you market for commercial use doesn’t necessarily need to be the music that you play on stage, and sell on iTunes. But it can be.
For me, until I learn that these websites are trust-worthy I tend to create custom music. That way, if there is something in the fine print of the contract that I didn’t catch, a music library won’t be robbing me of one of my precious gems.
The libraries that I’ve submitted to are all non-exclusive. Meaning that a person can post the same song in multiple online libraries.
There was no cost to submit songs to the libraries. But if your track gets chosen by a client, the website can take a significant cut of the profits. But remember that it’s better to have a small piece of a very big pie than to have a big piece of a very small pie.
I hope that it goes without saying that you should certainly read the contractual agreements to any submission opportunity.
Befriend the Gatekeeper
Finally, before I give the dot-coms to you, I want to point out that you should develop any relationships with music supervisors for TV/Film. If you can place songs directly with anybody, that is the better way to go. You retain more of the money, you’re building a win-win relationship with an industry friend. Don’t be afraid to seek ways to bypass the online libraries (mentioned below) if you have ways to pitch or place your songs directly. Here in Denver (also in California) we have the Durango Songwriter’s Expo, where music supervisors from network TV listen to original music and hang out with writers. A (talented!) friend of mine who attended the Expo got to hear her song in TV/Film, including a placement on Grey’s Anatomy.
Another friend of mine spends time in his studio producing commercial songs on spec (speculation) for local business who advertise on the radio/TV. He will send them a short sample of the audio he created, along with his contact information. It’s a bit of a risk, he works hard on the music/narration and might not be paid. But he’s seen enough success with this method to keep him doing it! In the time he could have watched a movie or a few episodes of TV on Netflix, he created something that might generate him some income, and build some local professional relationships.
With all that said, here are the music libraries I’ve found and looked in to. Feel free to add others, and to comment about your experiences in the blog comments below.
THE TWO LIBRARIES THAT I HAVE SUBMITTED TO
1. PumpAudio.com Pump sends out a hard drive of audio content to their clients every six months or so. They set the bar very high in terms of quality, and they are pretty specific with the types songs they are seeking. I’ve only made it past the first one or two gate-keepers so far. The website is very specific as to the current demands of their clientele, so you can look over the kind of content they are seeking and try to produce music accordingly!
2. AudioSparx.com This site is easier to get music posted, they take anything. But the pay-out is lower, and the site has an endless supply of contributors and tracks. I’d recommend researching what is in demand, and what is lacking in their catalog before submitting.
3. YouTube.com Not really a music library, but I wanted to mention it as a passive income source. I’ve received much more income from creating videos (monetized) than I have in creating commercial music for online libraries. People look to YouTube for so much in life: music, humor, education, how to fix their dishwasher, etc. Any content you create will probably have a demographic of interested viewers. One of my most popular videos is how to repair a Mackie loudspeaker.
The last resources I wanted to share I’ve learned about from Steve Cherubino on The Producer’s Podcast.
He interviews electronic music producers from around the world, asks them about their process for making music, their favorite plugins, and where they post their music for sale. (Subscribe on iTunes)
Steve pointed out that when he creates music that doesn’t fit into his artist set, he’ll post in online libraries. And he’s received some decent income in return!
appears to offer musical content that will loop, perhaps stating the obvious. So if a person has a need for musical content that is flexible in duration, MelodyLoops offers content for that. They will ask for a single submission of your best work as an audition. They will reply with a response about your music.
Part of the Envato collection of content (sound effects, photos, video content, etc). As a contributor to their world of content, they refer to you as an “author.”
Others libraries that Steve mentioned.
I encourage you to give a few of these libraries a try. Maybe as you sip your morning coffee and eat your cereal you can crank out a musical track and post it in a library or two.
These websites often use the phrase “Sell Your Music” in a way to attract composers and producers. In most cases what they mean is that you (the writer will) retain the intellectual property of the song, and you are merely selling licenses for commercial use. So if you see that phrase, don’t be too alarmed, but make sure to read the fine print.
In some cases there might be opportunities to Work For Hire, which often involves a higher payment to the composer, but also involves the surrendering of the intellectual property. This arrangement can work well, especially if the expectations are clearly communicated up front.
Wow, what a coincidence …. just as I was finishing up this list a songwriter friend posted on social media that she had a song accepted into the Crucial Media library ! And so we learn of yet another non-exclusive library. Congrats DC !!