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Library music and writing what you want to write

Chr!s

Active Member
I mean 100k would be great, but I could make 30k work. Anything above minimum wage would be ideal haha.
My honest opinion is that making 5-digit salaries with music today is largely a fool's errand.

Yes, yes — this is the part where all the rich kids, shot-in-the-dark YouTube stars, and old guys who got their careers off the ground in 1974 when a McDonald's employee on minimum wage made the modern equivalent of 80k a year and nothing on the menu cost more than a buck will tell me I'm wrong, just need to work harder, etc.

Get it out of your system guys. :P
 

InLight-Tone

Senior Member
My honest opinion is that making 5-digit salaries with music today is largely a fool's errand.

Yes, yes — this is the part where all the rich kids, shot-in-the-dark YouTube stars, and old guys who got their careers off the ground in 1974 when a McDonald's employee on minimum wage made the modern equivalent of 80k a year and nothing on the menu cost more than a buck will tell me I'm wrong, just need to work harder, etc.

Get it out of your system guys. :P
You don't need to work harder you need to drop the scarcasm and see the opportunities that exist as no time in history. You're arguing for your limitations, but yes, it's not business as usual, more like surfing...
 

Chr!s

Active Member
You don't need to work harder you need to drop the scarcasm and see the opportunities that exist as no time in history. You're arguing for your limitations, but yes, it's not business as usual, more like surfing...
That took no time at all.

The "opportunities" you speak of are saturated, more than any other time in history.

You may as well have said: "You just need the right attitude." That doesn't get you jobs, that doesn't pay bills, that's doesn't allow you to raise a family, etc. Never has, never will. The reality of it is, the opportunities one is likely to land will be insufficient for the majority of people to live on. It will be increasingly insufficient for the foreseeable future.

That's just the truth. The real advice, is just don't worry about it. Just write music, write music for people where the opportunity presents itself and if you never make 100k a year at it, know that there was really nothing you could've done to make that happen anyway.

These conversations are like arguing with lottery winners about how to win the lottery. "Just work two jobs, buy more tickets!" Yeah, I mean that's not bad advice, but it doesn't change the statistical reality that thousands could employ the same strategy and fail simply because it depends on variables ultimately beyond their control.
 

InLight-Tone

Senior Member
I didn't say attitude but you do need to think outside the box. Plenty of 20 somethings are making millions pretty quick primarily because they don't have all these limiting belief systems. Sure that's not the norm, but can you sustain a decent income with music, sure.

Personally, I am not doing that yet, I devote most of my time to YouTube where I'm making around $3500/mo producing 2 videos a month (not on the channel in my sig obviously). I'd rather be doing music but it's paying the bills and in the big scheme of things, I have no complaints...
 

muk

Senior Member
The music library market is getting waay too saturated, so call me a sceptic, but as I see it, only as part of an income portfolio. Even after 5 years, you would be lucky to land 20-30% of those 5k.
The saturation of the market is certainly at least partly true. But I feel there are still enough opportunities. For the royalty-free, non-exclusive market it is brutal how flooded it is. As is the epic/trailer market. Writing trailers is high risk-high reward, as there are few opportunities and a lot of music. But if you land a placement the fees are in the four- or even five-digits. If you don't have a name already chances to land a placement are limited.

In the exclusive market, however, there are plenty of libraries always looking for new writers. If you do your homework, and your music and production skills are up there, you can get into top tier and higher tier exclusive libraries. And these still get very decent placements. The royalties per placement are comparably low, but if you have enough tracks and work with good libraries they add up.

For production music- and media-composers we are in a phase of transition I feel. Traditional royalties are not as high as they used to be. At the same time, streaming is becoming ever more important. And currently that is paying next to nothing for composers. A lot will depend on how PROs catch up to this new reality, and what kind of deal they can negiotate for the composers. If the policy-making goes well and a fair deal can be found things will improve.
 

GtrString

Active Member
muk, I agree it seems like a phase of transition now. And many of the libraries are looking to consolidate. What is ugly is that composers are asked to sign exclusive deals without any advance, and if the libraries sell their catalog to major players after a while, they might use them for blanket deals to streaming companies. In that case you can make the best track in the world without even recouping the hrs spent on making the track.

If you can get in as a staff composer, you will at least make the hrs spent on the music. But backend is fighting for its life, as it is now, and passive income may become a thing of the past.

So the path with least resistance seems to be, make music, play shows or get a staff gig, try to optimize the deals you sign, but dont rely on them as a platform for making a living.
 

R. Soul

Senior Member
I think a lot of people make the mistake of thinking they can get into the the library music game by doing one niche genre well and then keep flogging tracks to library after library.
I recently saw a major library release a Death metal album, but I think that's just so that they can cover everything and never have to turn away a client.
If you write, for example, romantic orchestral scores, I think you need to expand your skill set to at least 'everything orchestral', cause one thing is for sure - once you given a library a romantic orchestral album, it'll probably be a year or two until they need thet again. What are you going to do in the mean time then?

For example, I've just been commissioned two albums by a large (100.000 tracks) library, cause despite the large amount of tracks, they don't actually have anything in those genres. So instead of turning it down, I'd rather spend a week researching and practicing those styles and broadening my horizon.
In that sense, production music is pretty much the polar opposite of being an artist, where you're expected to turn out similar music album after album.
 

Desire Inspires

To the stars through desire....
I can't remember if it was you or Jimmy I'd talked about this in another thread some months ago.

I think about all the hours I've spent locked away in a room with a computer and keyboard and what I could've been doing instead. This past summer, I had more fun just going out and doing stuff with family and friends. I went to medieval faires, horseback riding, fishing, hiking trips, etc. and I could barely bring myself to write any music.

Years ago, I could sit there from sun up until sundown. Now, I'll spend like 2 weeks or more on 2 minutes of music.
That is wonderful. Life is too short to rot away in front of a computer making music.

It’s even worse, because at least with a dayjob, you get a wage. With music library writing, it’s just work and work and work and wait and wait and wait for a check. A check that can go up and down with no rhyme or reason.

Nope. I cannot do it anymore.
 

Daryl

Senior Member
When one writes library music, there are two important things to remember:

1. You are in competition with 1000s of other composers, so don't go into it thinking that you can write any old rubbish, and save your best stuff for other things. Mostly it doesn't work like that.

2. The distribution network of your Publisher is crucial. If they only have an online presence, you are likely to get far fewer sales than if they have a dedicated sales team.

In terms of writing what you want to write, you should always have an end-user in mind. If you can't see where your music could be used, don't be surprised when potential clients can't either. Usage is probably the most important thing to bear in mind. This is not necessarily a question of style of music more about usability. Do you have many alternative versions? Do you have shorter versions (30s, 60s etc)? Do you have easy edit points? These are just a few of the things that you should bear in mind when writing.
 
OP
dexterjettser

dexterjettser

Member
When one writes library music, there are two important things to remember:

1. You are in competition with 1000s of other composers, so don't go into it thinking that you can write any old rubbish, and save your best stuff for other things. Mostly it doesn't work like that.

2. The distribution network of your Publisher is crucial. If they only have an online presence, you are likely to get far fewer sales than if they have a dedicated sales team.

In terms of writing what you want to write, you should always have an end-user in mind. If you can't see where your music could be used, don't be surprised when potential clients can't either. Usage is probably the most important thing to bear in mind. This is not necessarily a question of style of music more about usability. Do you have many alternative versions? Do you have shorter versions (30s, 60s etc)? Do you have easy edit points? These are just a few of the things that you should bear in mind when writing.
I like your point about usability over a specific genre-that helps to keep things in perspective...
 

Chr!s

Active Member
That is wonderful. Life is too short to rot away in front of a computer making music.
Something I wish I realized sooner. We actually have a very limited amount of time in which doing things like traveling, getting married, starting a family, and stuff is really feasible.

I know guys who, after 20+ years of trying and working dead-end jobs are finally making a living at music. Composing or otherwise.

These guys are crazy cat ladies basically. They missed the boat on becoming fathers and stuff so long ago that they've taken to filling that void with materialism. I'll go over to their houses, see pictures on facebook etc. and it's like a 16-year-old lives there. It's a giant "mancave" where they've stuffed it with video games, nerd things, posters and buying tons of instruments and VSTs with any disposable income. Most of them are unmarried or divorced. Single at least.

But hey! Look on the bright side! They get to slave away for 8+ hours a day in a darkened studio making music for soulless corporations! Worth it. #Living the dream.

Don't get me wrong, composing for a living can be great, but it's not worth the sacrifices so many seem to be eager to make.
 

Kony

Bad ape
Something I wish I realized sooner. We actually have a very limited amount of time in which doing things like traveling, getting married, starting a family, and stuff is really feasible.

I know guys who, after 20+ years of trying and working dead-end jobs are finally making a living at music. Composing or otherwise.

These guys are crazy cat ladies basically. They missed the boat on becoming fathers and stuff so long ago that they've taken to filling that void with materialism. I'll go over to their houses, see pictures on facebook etc. and it's like a 16-year-old lives there. It's a giant "mancave" where they've stuffed it with video games, nerd things, posters and buying tons of instruments and VSTs with any disposable income. Most of them are unmarried or divorced. Single at least.

But hey! Look on the bright side! They get to slave away for 8+ hours a day in a darkened studio making music for soulless corporations! Worth it. #Living the dream.

Don't get me wrong, composing for a living can be great, but it's not worth the sacrifices so many seem to be eager to make.
I've seen this as well - but have to ask whether it would be better to slave away in front of a computer for 8 hours on music compared to slaving away for 8 hours in front of a computer for someone else's business?
 

Chr!s

Active Member
I've seen this as well - but have to ask whether it would be better to slave away in front of a computer for 8 hours on music compared to slaving away for 8 hours in front of a computer for someone else's business?
I would say you are slaving away for someone else's business when it comes to composing, generally
 

dohm

New Member
...

But hey! Look on the bright side! They get to slave away for 8+ hours a day in a darkened studio making music for soulless corporations! Worth it. #Living the dream.

Don't get me wrong, composing for a living can be great, but it's not worth the sacrifices so many seem to be eager to make.
It's always interesting to listen when someone talks about work. People either have a victim mindset or a learning mindset. A recent popular author wrote a book calling versions of this a "fixed mindset" or a "growth mindset." It is worth considering that any self chosen work that can pay you any income is a real privilege when compared to the typical human life situation throughout history. Most people never had the choice or even a remote option to pursue a meaningful career. First, realize that even having the choice to pursue music (or something else) is a huge privilege when compared to 99% of the people who have lived on this beautiful planet throughout history!

Anything with long term satisfaction requires effort, struggle and then more effort...a lot of it. We can choose to pursue higher paying careers, on average, like engineering, software development, medical, etc., or more risky ventures, on average, like starting a business, composer, artist, professional skateboarding ;), etc. There is no universal right answer to what direction a person should go in regards to a career. A career might pay well and be stable, but make you miserable and unhappy. To another person, that same job might be very satisfying and enjoyable. The good part about trying something is that you then can know for sure if it fits well or not, instead of wondering your whole life, "What if I had pursued X?", "Would I have been more happy?", etc. If it sucks, then at least you know it is the wrong direction and hopefully you can make plans to go a different direction. That is personalized knowledge! The key to a learning mindset is to not moan and complain and try to tell everyone else they are idiots, or at fault, but instead learn from the experience and get back to work on something more satisfying. Change course, if you will.

I have chosen to do music on the side while I work in something different for my main income. Do I sometimes wish I was a successful and famous film composer? Sure! But, I also know that if I was a full time composer I would sometimes wish I was doing something else. Being a rock star would be cool, right!

So, composing for a living is absolutely worth the sacrifice...just maybe not for you. I have made sacrifices to earn an education and to startup companies. Nothing is guaranteed. I also choose to sacrifice time to pursue music (composing and playing instruments). This "music" time could be put towards something else that pays more money, so why do it? Because it is satisfying, challenging, hard work, interesting,...and worth doing for me!

Compared to many others that frequent this forum, I'm not qualified to offer much advice about composing. However, I can offer this advice: Go find the things that are worth the sacrifices. Honor and encourage those that are on their chosen journey, whatever it might be. Learn from every experience. Avoid being cynical - Leave that to the news reporters and politicians ;)
 

Chr!s

Active Member
It is worth considering that any self chosen work that can pay you any income is a real privilege when compared to the typical human life situation throughout history. Most people never had the choice or even a remote option to pursue a meaningful career.
No, instead they pursued a meaningful family life.

Studies are showing time and again now that childless and unmarried people, especially women, wind up unhappier even with successful careers.

Breastfeeding and having more babies is found to cut the risk of depression in women significantly, especially later in life. Studies have also found that the happiest demographic is as follows:

  • Male
  • 39 years old
  • Married
  • Household income between $150,000 and $200,000
  • In a senior management position
  • 1 young child at home
  • A wife who works part-time
Least happy

  • Female
  • 42 years old
  • Unmarried (and no children)
  • Household income under $100,000
  • In a professional position (doctor, lawyer, etc.)
As the kids say: "oof".

Selling your soul to corporations and "careers" is not more virtuous and fulfilling than getting married and raising a family. Something becoming increasingly difficult on traditional jobs.

Trust me, you think it will, but the time will come where you'll realize that the fact you do X for a living doesn't fill this hole inside your life that comes from failing to fulfill your biological purpose and have a successful home life.

If you have to choose between dream job and happy family life, pick the latter.

But we're off topic. Join me in arguing this in the politics section if you like.
 

R. Soul

Senior Member
No, instead they pursued a meaningful family life.

Studies are showing time and again now that childless and unmarried people, especially women, wind up unhappier even with successful careers.

Breastfeeding and having more babies is found to cut the risk of depression in women significantly, especially later in life. Studies have also found that the happiest demographic is as follows:

  • Male
  • 39 years old
  • Married
  • Household income between $150,000 and $200,000
  • In a senior management position
  • 1 young child at home
  • A wife who works part-time
Least happy

  • Female
  • 42 years old
  • Unmarried (and no children)
  • Household income under $100,000
  • In a professional position (doctor, lawyer, etc.)
As the kids say: "oof".

Selling your soul to corporations and "careers" is not more virtuous and fulfilling than getting married and raising a family. Something becoming increasingly difficult on traditional jobs.

Trust me, you think it will, but the time will come where you'll realize that the fact you do X for a living doesn't fill this hole inside your life that comes from failing to fulfill your biological purpose and have a successful home life.

If you have to choose between dream job and happy family life, pick the latter.

But we're off topic. Join me in arguing this in the politics section if you like.
If a household income of $200.000 is not selling your soul to corporations and careers, I don't know what is.

If the couple was 'Bin man' and 'Dinner lady' with 5 kids, yeah sure. But that income is like Prime minister level.
 

Chr!s

Active Member
If a household income of $200.000 is not selling your soul to corporations and careers, I don't know what is.

If the couple was 'Bin man' and 'Dinner lady' with 5 kids, yeah sure. But that income is like Prime minister level.
He could make less than 100k and the result would be the very much the same. You're kinda missing the point.

The point is that putting off things like a wife and kids just so you can maybe possibly one day get the job of "write music for consumer products" for a living is insanity.

We all know that most aspiring musicians will put off such things, and will not have a career that would allow them to have it, because that will take away from their investment in music in most cases today. Starbucks and living with 3 roommates may let you have time and disposable income to pursue your music dream, but it will turn you into a cat lady if it doesn't work out.
 

Jimmy Hellfire

Senior Member
  • Male
  • 39 years old
  • Married
  • Household income between $150,000 and $200,000
  • In a senior management position
  • 1 young child at home
Wow dude. :grin: Sounds like an absolute horror scenario. Also sounds like a typical thing which "studies have found" - usually a reliable indicator for bullcrap and nonsense.
Also, most of the people in that category tend to be insufferably boring personalities and often petty-minden jerks. So, I don't know man ...
 
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