Some year-end statistics! Feel free to share yours!

Discussion in 'Working in the Industry' started by StevenMcDonald, Dec 27, 2018.

  1. StevenMcDonald


    Jul 27, 2012
    First off - please don't take this as a brag thread, and if you decide to share yours, please don't use this as a brag thread. I'm not going to share specific numbers, just a percentage breakdown here. When I was first starting out as a composer, I always loved seeing things like this. Statistics are pretty fascinating, and I hope someone else finds this interesting.

    A little exposition first - I primarily write production music for various libraries. I mostly write for TV underscore, but I also occasionally land placements in advertising. 2018 was my first year doing this full time as my only income source.


    Broadcast Royalties - 82.7%
    This doesn't surprise me, because I write huge volumes of tracks for US Reality TV shows. This is my bread-and-butter income, and it provides some stability.

    Sync Fees - 12.1%
    Some income from some very minor trailer/advertising syncs. I've got some cool trailer music in the release pipeline, so I'm hoping this is more like 50% next year :)

    Library Up-Front Fees - 2.6%
    Most of the library work I do has no up-front payment, but I do work with a couple libraries that pay a small amount per track.

    Misc Freelance - 2%
    Occasionally I'll have someone with a super low-budget film or game find me from my website or youtube channel. This is only one small gig I did this year, plus a little chunk from a writing gig I do fairly regularly (still music/composer related)

    Royalty Free Sales - 0.5%
    I have a handful of old or misfit/reject tracks on that sell occasionally. It's not much, but it's nice to have date night paid for every once in a while :)

    I hope this provides some insight into what a composer's income might look like. I also hope some of you others in the industry will share something similar! I'd like for this to be a chill thread to share this kind of info and learn from each other... or just geek out over statistics :)
  2. R. Soul

    R. Soul Senior Member

    Jan 7, 2006
    London, UK
    Interesting read Steven.

    I haven't done any calculations but off the top of my head I'd say upfront 50%, sync 20% and Broadcast royalties 30%.

    If my broadcast royalties were 82% I wouldn't have beans on toast every other day :grin:
    StevenMcDonald likes this.
  3. OP


    Jul 27, 2012
    Hey you never know! That could be 82% of $700 for the whole year.

    I'd personally love to get my up front payments to make up 50% or more (as long as the royalties don't fall down). I get bad career anxiety waiting for quarterly checks that make up the vast majority of my income.
  4. jonathanparham

    jonathanparham Active Member

    Jun 7, 2005
    New Orleans, LA
    Thanks for sharing. Still learning. But good to see your production music get you to full time writing status
  5. chillbot

    chillbot Sock Muppet

    Feb 6, 2014
    La Canada Flintridge, CA
    Mine income is

    12% upfront fees
    90% royalties
    -2% gambling winnings
  6. OP


    Jul 27, 2012
    Gonna need to see a pie for that please.
  7. Kyle Preston

    Kyle Preston I accidentally do things on purpose

    Aug 11, 2016
    Seattle, WA
    What a great idea of a thread, thanks for sharing your stats Steven! Here's my 2018 chart. The industry considers me more of a "recording artist" than a "media composer" and RF does well for me mostly because I value non-exclusive libraries over exclusive ones.

    Screen Shot 2018-12-27 at 11.29.43 AM.jpg

    I know the feeling man. One of my bread and butter libraries pays only once a year. The waiting is.....utterly terrifying.
  8. OP


    Jul 27, 2012
    Thanks for sharing! The RF market has always fascinated me, but I always do so much better writing tracks for specific shows/requests from exclusive libs with references and such. I would struggle to keep up a good output with the total freedom of RF.
  9. Desire Inspires

    Desire Inspires To the stars through desire....

    Jul 30, 2016
    Miami Beach
  10. gtrwll

    gtrwll Member

    Jun 14, 2015
    Interesting thread! Here's mine:


    If it wasn't for the nice surprise from Teosto couple weeks ago, this would probably have been something like 95% RF sales. So it's nice to finally start seeing some backend income from placements :)

    I mainly write for non-exclusive RF sites, but also for exclusive libs that pitch for reality TV etc. Money from music is very much a side income for me, but it grew quite a bit from 2017 to 2018. I don't really expect it to grow next year, since I haven't got time to write new music for a while now. Anyway, thanks for sharing and starting the thread, statistics are always fascinating (statistics geek reporting for duty!) :)
    StevenMcDonald and dannymc like this.
  11. EBicks

    EBicks New Member

    Jun 15, 2018
    Cool thread! For those of you that do this full time, how many years did you spend building this up as a side hustle until you were ready to take the plunge and go full time? Would be interesting to hear
  12. Nick Batzdorf

    Nick Batzdorf Moderator

    Sep 14, 2004
    Los Angeles
  13. OP


    Jul 27, 2012
    Three long and very impatient years as a side hustle for me.

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