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Library music and writing what you want to write

Hi all (especially those of you that make your full income from library/production music),

I’m college-aged and new to the library music scene. I’ve been writing trailer music for a small library for about 6 months and although I haven’t gotten any placements yet, I’m starting to get a little burnt out writing in this genre, although I’m learning a ton from my publisher. I love trailer music and do want to keep getting better at it, BUT I’d like to branch out and compose something beyond braams and epic drum hits to keep myself sane.

I am interested in contemporary orchestral and neo-classical music. Stuff like olafur arnaulds, johan johansson, any Andy Blaney SF demo, etc. If I could compose music like that for libraries I would really enjoy it, but I’m not sure how much use my tracks would get. Perhaps music you’d find in nature documentary or something. I’m not sure.

My question is basically, could someone make a full time income writing library music in sort of a niche style such as neo-classical? I’m fairly new to all of this so I figured I’d reach out. Many thanks
 

muk

Senior Member
Hard to say, but probably yes, if you find the right publishers to work with. I would suggest to do what you really like. Write a few tracks in that style, and then do the research and try to find publishers for these. If you can build a nice working relationship with some publishers, and they get placements for your tracks, you can then develop concepts for albums in a style that a) you really like to write in and are good at, and b) they think they can place well. It's important to write in styles you like or eventually you'll just stop. On the other hand don't get obsessed with doing just one particular style and nothing else. Right now you're experiencing what happens if you do that for too long. Focusing on your favourite stlye is the right thing to start with, just be open to try slightly different things as well.
 

dannymc

Senior Member
Hard to say, but probably yes, if you find the right publishers to work with. I would suggest to do what you really like. Write a few tracks in that style, and then do the research and try to find publishers for these. If you can build a nice working relationship with some publishers, and they get placements for your tracks, you can then develop concepts for albums in a style that a) you really like to write in and are good at, and b) they think they can place well. It's important to write in styles you like or eventually you'll just stop. On the other hand don't get obsessed with doing just one particular style and nothing else. Right now you're experiencing what happens if you do that for too long. Focusing on your favourite stlye is the right thing to start with, just be open to try slightly different things as well.
great advice here.

Danny
 
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Heinigoldstein

Active Member
I´m in a similar position. I honestly wasn't´t very attracted to work for the production music sector before, but meanwhile I have a lot of (orchestral) music just wasting on my hard disc, which is quite silly too. So I would like to give it a try, but I don´t know which would be the right publisher to get in contact with. When I do researches, I mostly find trailer stuff, epic and more epic music and I´m pretty unsure which company would be the right one for my typ of music. I don´t need to make an exclusive income out of it, but I don´t want a company, that doesn't´t care about and just put it in their stock either.
Which publisher could you recommend for the kind of music "dexterjettser" describes ?
 

muk

Senior Member
@Heinigoldstein if you've mostlyfound trailer and epic libraries so far you haven't researched enoigh. Nobody can tell you which libraries will work for because we haven't heard your music, and because building relationships plays a role in whether a library will be succesful for you.

Some pointers for your research: first of all read up about exclusive vs non-exclusive libraries. Make sure you fully understand the difference, and decide which route you want to take (one or the other, or both). Google 'production music libraries'. Go to music library report and gather the info that is free (you can pay a subscription to gain full access, but in my opinion it is not necessary).
Go to PMA and check which libraries are members: voila, a huge list of production music libraries for you to investigate. A member called 'Desire Inspire' posted another huge list of libraries on gearslutz and on this forum as well.
After that you might be interested in researching the term 'sub-publisher'.

If you've done all that things should be a lot clearer for you. If there are open questions for you then still (and I guess there will be), I'm sure you can find more help on this forum. You can also send me a pm then if you want to. I'm not the most knowledgeable person about production music, nor am I the most succesful writer by a long stretch. But I am happy to help and share the experiences I gathered so far.
 

Aaron Sapp

Senior Member
Full-time income off neo-classical? I'd wager you'd need hundreds of tracks in that style to see a proper return since the usage would be more limited than something more modern.

It depends on what your goals are. If you want to strictly write what you want (neo-classical), you might have a tougher time with returns. If you want to make a living writing library music, I'd focus on stuff that's more stylistically-relevant, editorially-sound, attention-getting and dare I say it, unique.

Whenever I'm working on a track, I usually have an idea of what it could be used for. If you can imagine it being used for this, this and this, you're in a good place. If you can only see it being used for nature documentaries, then the returns will be limited.

I'll also play it against a bunch of television promos/trailers on YouTube and see how it feels dramatically. It's surprisingly informative, right down to specific elements in a track that work/don't work with/against picture.

With all that said, a certain fascination with a variety of genres has to exist. I love everything from Williams, Stravinsky, Shostakovitch and Copeland to Flume, Apparat, Muse, Gorillaz, Alt-J, etc. They all feed into what I write, which can so very rarely be straight.

So I'd try to figure out how to take the styles of music you love and format it in a compelling, useful way. Even after 14 years of writing production music, I find it absurdly difficult.
 
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dexterjettser

dexterjettser

Member
Hard to say, but probably yes, if you find the right publishers to work with. I would suggest to do what you really like. Write a few tracks in that style, and then do the research and try to find publishers for these. If you can build a nice working relationship with some publishers, and they get placements for your tracks, you can then develop concepts for albums in a style that a) you really like to write in and are good at, and b) they think they can place well. It's important to write in styles you like or eventually you'll just stop. On the other hand don't get obsessed with doing just one particular style and nothing else. Right now you're experiencing what happens if you do that for too long. Focusing on your favourite stlye is the right thing to start with, just be open to try slightly different things as well.
Yeah I agree. I talked a little bit with my current publisher and they're open to me writing more traditional instrumentation orchestral stuff. I'm sure the same thing would happen in 6 months if I only wrote 'neo-classical' cues. Right now I definitely would like to find 1-2 more libraries that specialize in that sort of music. I also agree with what else has been said that I might not see a proper return if that's all I'm writing. But then again I feel like dramatic piano and strings could get decent placements. Or if I could write anything like Bill Brown's Dreamstate I'd love to. A lot of what I'm listing is sort of all over the place haha, but hopefully you all get the idea of what I'd be interested in writing for libraries.
 
OP
dexterjettser

dexterjettser

Member
Full-time income off neo-classical? I'd wager you'd need hundreds of tracks in that style to see a proper return since the usage would be more limited than something more modern.

It depends on what your goals are. If you want to strictly write what you want (neo-classical), you might have a tougher time with returns. If you want to make a living writing library music, I'd focus on stuff that's more stylistically-relevant, editorially-sound, attention-getting and dare I say it, unique.

Whenever I'm working on a track, I usually have an idea of what it could be used for. If you can imagine it being used for this, this and this, you're in a good place. If you can only see it being used for nature documentaries, then the returns will be limited.

I'll also play it against a bunch of television promos/trailers on YouTube and see how it feels dramatically. It's surprisingly informative, right down to specific elements in a track that work/don't work with/against picture.

With all that said, a certain fascination with a variety of genres has to exist. I love everything from Williams, Stravinsky, Shostakovitch and Copeland to Flume, Apparat, Muse, Gorillaz, Alt-J, etc. They all feed into what I write, which can so very rarely be straight.

So I'd try to figure out how to take the styles of music you love and format it in a compelling, useful way. Even after 14 years of writing production music, I find it absurdly difficult.
Just curious, as you've been doing this sort of thing for a while. What genre do you find yourself writing most in, and do you enjoy writing that genre?

I'd say my ultimate goal is to write in the style I want to write (dramatic, neo-classical, orchestral, and also trailers/hybrid to a degree) and make a full time income in about 4-5 years.
 

Heinigoldstein

Active Member
@Heinigoldstein if you've mostlyfound trailer and epic libraries so far you haven't researched enoigh. Nobody can tell you which libraries will work for because we haven't heard your music, and because building relationships plays a role in whether a library will be succesful for you.

Some pointers for your research: first of all read up about exclusive vs non-exclusive libraries. Make sure you fully understand the difference, and decide which route you want to take (one or the other, or both). Google 'production music libraries'. Go to music library report and gather the info that is free (you can pay a subscription to gain full access, but in my opinion it is not necessary).
Go to PMA and check which libraries are members: voila, a huge list of production music libraries for you to investigate. A member called 'Desire Inspire' posted another huge list of libraries on gearslutz and on this forum as well.
After that you might be interested in researching the term 'sub-publisher'.

If you've done all that things should be a lot clearer for you. If there are open questions for you then still (and I guess there will be), I'm sure you can find more help on this forum. You can also send me a pm then if you want to. I'm not the most knowledgeable person about production music, nor am I the most succesful writer by a long stretch. But I am happy to help and share the experiences I gathered so far.
Thanks a lot for your reply and, of course, your right, my research was probably too poor and lazy. I'll take myself a lot more time with your keywords and google my way thru the sites you mention d as a starting point. I really appreachiate yout offer.
 
OP
dexterjettser

dexterjettser

Member
I´m in a similar position. I honestly wasn't´t very attracted to work for the production music sector before, but meanwhile I have a lot of (orchestral) music just wasting on my hard disc, which is quite silly too. So I would like to give it a try, but I don´t know which would be the right publisher to get in contact with. When I do researches, I mostly find trailer stuff, epic and more epic music and I´m pretty unsure which company would be the right one for my typ of music. I don´t need to make an exclusive income out of it, but I don´t want a company, that doesn't´t care about and just put it in their stock either.
Which publisher could you recommend for the kind of music "dexterjettser" describes ?
If I find a few libraries that are like this I'll let you know! I've found the music I want to write on websites like pond5 and artlist-though I want to avoid those sites. I'm slowly going through this giant list that was posted on gearslutz.
 
the library music game is saturated with literally tens of millions of works now - and the competition is huge - some of the biggest names in the pop, rock and film music biz also do library music - and so your material has to stand next to the production quality of this.
 

Daryl

Senior Member
It also makes a difference whether or not you write for samples, or musicians. If samples, you have to make sure that you can really sequence what you write as well as possible. There is a reason that many sample based composers sound sort of the same. They all use the same samples, which have the same flaws...! Make sure that whatever you do, there is something about your productions that make you stand out.
 

will_m

Active Member
My question is basically, could someone make a full time income writing library music in sort of a niche style such as neo-classical? I’m fairly new to all of this so I figured I’d reach out. Many thanks
I think a full time income from one style in library music is a big ask, not impossible but it'd certainly take some work and time to get there.

In regards to looking for libraries that cater to your style some will post post on their website when they have a brief for an album. Most exclusive libraries work on an album basis and the royalty free type sites (AJ pond5 etc) tend to be more single track.

I believe when a library puts an album together it is often based on searches from their clients, so if clients are asking and searching for music that sounds like Sigur Ros (for example) the library will compile a brief and ask composers to write and produce in that style, which they then package as an album, usually with artwork and titles that suggest the artist or genre that had been requested.

You can of course create the work first and then approach libraries saying 'hey I've got this cool sounding minimal piano and strings album in the style of such and such'.
 

D Halgren

Senior Member
You are crazy! That is $60k per year. Not even a delusional socialist country could maintain that. You would have unbelievable unemployment and small businesses would shut their doors by the droves. I can hire very good new engineering (mechanical, electrical, software), physics, math grads (with BS degree and intern experience) for 60-75k per year. There is a big difference between that job and a minimum wage job. Btw, if a person learns a skill or trade with demand then $5k+ per month is very realistic.

If i missed that this is a joke...then joke is on me. Apologies.
I believe he is saying that he would need to make a minimum of 5k a month to survive.
 
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