Making Music Make Money – Royalty Free & Library Music Production
Before I get into this too much I wanted to mention that I’m just talking about personal experience in this blog post and you can take from it what you may. It’s not meant to be a ‘one size fits all’ type of thing that will appeal to everyone, and that everyone who reads this will suddenly make money from their work. This is a blog post about selling royalty free music online. Just that statement alone will drive off a bunch of traffic, which is fine. To each their own. For me the importance of all of this in the end is that I get to write the music I want to write, and I want to be paid for it. It seems like a dream but for many it’s a reality and they are making a decent living doing just that.
I’m at a point right now where I’m making money every day from my music and sound effects. That’s a good feeling. To know that I can drive the amount of income I make based on the output of my work. Now don’t get me wrong, this production music thing is totally a numbers game. The more music you have out there the better the chance you have at making it. But I’m talking about a massive amount of music. I read an interview once with a composer who wrote for reality television and his output was roughly 70-80 new pieces of music a month! That’s a lot of music. I think if you can get to one piece of finished (mixed and mastered) music a day you’ll be in a good spot.
Not all royalty free music sites are created equal. I only use two currently, and they are AudioJungle and Pond5. AudioJungle though seems to be the better of the two and should be where you focus your attention if you’re looking to quit your day job and write music for a living.
Now you’re probably thinking ‘Hey, don’t you write music for games for a living?!’? Well, yes and no. I write music and create sound effects for games, yes. But there are some points where ‘for a living’ doesn’t really cut it. The industry is cluttered and finding steady work is difficult even for veterans these days. We need to exhaust all avenues of income available to us if this is really what we want to do… that is, create things as a career.
Anyway, back to AudioJungle. They work on a tiered system where if you’re an exclusive artist (you don’t sell the music you submit to them anywhere else but you still own the rights to it) you make 50% of the sale up to a certain point. The more you sell the more your royalty percentage goes up, to a maximum of 70% of the selling price. Not bad. AudioJungle sets the selling point of your tracks, and there are numerous different licenses users can buy from the site. Based on a song two minutes and over, the licenses are ‘Music Standard License’ ($18), ‘Music Broadcast (1 million)’ ($36), ‘Music Mass Reproduction’ ($72), ‘Music Broadcast (10 million)’ ($144), and ‘Music Broadcast & Film’ ($306). So you can see the potential for the money you can make based on the type of production people are looking to place your music in.
You’ll find controversy within the composing community with regards to sites likeAudioJungle that don’t allow you to register the tracks you submit to them with your PRO (Performing Rights Agency). While I can understand how some people may be upset I would guess that these are the people really struggling to make a living composing music, or seeing their current clients jump ship on them in order to license cheaper music from these sites. I mean, yeah things are getting crazy out there but I don’t necessarily agree sites like AudioJungle are a ‘race to the bottom’ for us composers. Ask the guy who sold over a million dollars worth of his music on AudioJungle and I’m sure he’s not going to complain about not registering it with his PRO. Pond5 on the other hand allows you to register all your works that you upload to them. But I don’t make nearly as many sales from them as I do with AudioJungle. One of the benefits of Pond5 though is that they have a 50/50 split on the items you sell without having to be exclusive to them. Which is nice because it frees you up to license those tracks in many other places. So it’s a tough call when trying to figure out where to send my music once I write it.
Another point for AudioJungle though is that they have a very strict approval system and they don’t just allow anything that people upload into their library. You’ll usually wait about 4-5 days after you upload something to them to see if your track has been accepted or not. And I really like this because it keeps the overall quality of the music in their library up while making you a better composer in the long run because you’ll need to be doing your best work at all times. But you can always send your tracks over to Pond5 that AudioJunglerejects and still make money off of them.
What kind of income can you expect from AudioJungle in the long run? Well if you look at profiles you’ll see that people are awarded badges depending on how well they’re doing on the site. These badges can give you an idea of how much money that person has made as well. The coveted ‘Elite Author’ badge means the author has sold over $75,000 worth of music/sound effects (before the royalty cut). So at the bare minimum at a 50% rate (though at Elite I believe you’re making 70%) that’s $37,500. Though like I said it’s most likely a lot more than that. Not bad at all for something you already enjoy doing.
Let’s look at the current number one selling track on AudioJungle:
This track has been sold 8791 times! Now assuming all sales were at the $18 license and his royalty rate is 50%, that’s $79,119 for one song! But as you can see with all the different licensing options and your royalty rate increased based on overall performance, chances are this song brought in a lot more money than that.All issues aside with royalty free music, you can’t argue those numbers are enough to at least make you consider giving it a shot! Sure maybe things were easier 5-10 years ago and maybe the money on AudioJungle was flowing a lot faster than it is now because of the flooded composer market. But from my own experience alone I can say that I’ve made money faster by selling my music on AudioJungle than I have anywhere else up to this point in my career. It couldn’t hurt to send them a few tracks in your back catalogue collecting dust to see if you can generate an extra income stream from them!In a future post I’ll discuss what type of music sells best on AudioJungle and how to structure your tracks to get them accepted. In the meantime you can visit AudioJungle and Pond5 from the links below:
Thanks for reading!