5 Year Report

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    I’ve been at this music library composer thing, part time, for 5 years now and thought I would share a synopsis of my experience. Maybe it will encourage (or discourage) a newbie or someone considering giving it a try. I’m not sure if I am successful when compared to others. I feel like I’m in the middle of the bell curve in track quality, sales and placements. I have found the journey is an emotional roller-coaster ride but is still a lot of fun, especially because there is no ultimate prize to win. For me success equals nothing more than slow, steady increase in placements, sales and income.
    Five years ago I was retiring from the military, taking classes through Berklee online, and blindly searching the web for ways to get rich with five or so tracks. When I discovered MLR the real learning began. You all taught me so much. Thanks for all the informative posts, and especially to Art Munson for creating and maintaining this great website.
    Year #1 (2010) – was mostly a writing and learning year. I didn’t have enough music to generate income or even be considered for many libraries. By the end of the year I had about 20 tracks and was in about 5-10 non-exclusive libraries. My total income was about $100, ha.
    Year #2 – I saw my first TV placement, PRO payments, plus a handful of RF sales. I finished my studies through Berklee online and was writing blindly because I didn’t know what kind of music sold. I ended the year with about 50 tracks. I made about $400 in license fees and $16.01 from my PRO. I started getting discouraged and considered quitting.
    Year #3 – I focused on writing what I thought would sell. I saw a big increase in my TV placements, but had very few sales with RF sites. I made about $800 from my PRO. That was statistically very encouraging, but again, I was thinking this was a foolish endeavor for me. I ended the year with about 90 tracks.
    Year #4 – I set a goal to write 50 tracks and I organized the cataloging, editing and tagging of my tracks to make the submission process more efficient. I stopped submitting to the libraries that made me no $$ and tried a few new RF libraries. I also tried some exclusive tracks to see how they fared. I ended the year with about 130 tracks. My total income for year #4 was $3,800 ($1800 from my PRO and $2K from the new libraries I joined that year)
    Year #5 – I finally settled in to a groove. I found what works for me, what sites give me sales, what type of my music gets placed on TV, etc. I only added one new library, and that was one I’d been trying to get in for 2 years. I think I am done adding my existing tracks to any more libraries for a while. I ended the year with about 160 tracks. My year 5 income was $9,800 ($3,500 from PRO, the rest from RF sites and sync fees).
    This past year made my long term goal of $20K+ per year actually seem like a possibility so I have decided to continue on this ride for until it’s no longer fun. Hopefully that will never happen and I’ll write ’til death do us part 😉

    Here are some are some stats about my 160-ish tracks:
    Tracks that have earned more than $2K, (1)
    Tracks that have earned $1k-$2K, (2)
    Tracks that have earned $500-$1K, (6)
    Tracks that have earned $250-$500, (9)
    Tracks that have earned$100-$250, (20)
    Tracks that have earned $1-$99, (55)
    Tracks that have earned $0, (65)

    Exclusive Tracks, (33)
    Exclusive Tracks that have earned $0 so far, (22)


    This is a very informative post. Continue on your journey. You are making improvements and growing as a composer. Thanks for sharing!


    Thank you so much for sharing this data! While I know everyone’s experiences will differ, actual examples like this are still amazingly helpful. And my situation is probably more similar to yours than not, as I am doing this part-time at the moment and hoping to eventually transition to full-time with it, even if it takes 10 or 20 years to get there. Speaking for myself, your story is definitely encouraging… in the sense that it further validates the concept that staying persistent will start to pay off in the long run.

    A few questions:

    Do you also create edits and/or variations? If so, are those all counted separately or as one track in these numbers?

    How many libraries are you currently in at the end of Year 5 (excl. and non-excl.)?



    Do you also create edits and/or variations? If so, are those all counted separately or as one track in these numbers?

    For me a track is a title. I will make from 3-10 alt mixes/stings/loops per title.

    How many libraries are you currently in at the end of Year 5 (excl. and non-excl.)?


    Some of my older tracks are in many (15-ish) non exclusive libraries.
    If I finish a track today it will go to about 5 libraries. Some of those are RF, some mainly for TV use.

    I just signed an exclusive agreement with an very successful and popular library that used to be non-exclusive. I plan to submit mainly co-written tracks to them. I’ll likely do some 30 sec or less reality TV type stuff for them too. Only things that don’t take too long.

    How many libraries are you currently in at the end of Year 5 (excl. and non-excl.)?



    Thanks for sharing that Alan. Seeing as we are all anonymous it would be interesting to maybe hear other peoples 5 year reports. Certainly it looks like it is going in the right direction for you! My figures are similar to yours at the start point – only I am further on in terms of time as I have been doing it 12 years. Year 1 – $15 / year 2 – $400 / year 3 – $8,000 / year 4 – $23,000 / year 5 – $30,000 …and then it kept on going up sharply. 2007 I packed in the day job which allowed more time to compose = more tracks = more money. 2014 was a record year with 1 track alone earning $135,000 in Japan – and several ads for major brands should ensure a healthy 2015.

    The key thing is hold on tight as it is a bumpy ride! 🙂


    Wow Scott, that is really great and highly motivating for me. Thanks for sharing that


    Scott, That is very inspiring. If you don’t mind sharing, how many libraries are you with? Does the ratio lean more toward EX or NE?


    thanks for the reveal of your data.
    in 2009 i began to produce tracks for different libraries.
    i live in europe , there is a big delay until the royalties arrive to my
    So here is my royalty-journey

    2009= 0$
    2010= 0$
    2011= 0$
    2012= 150$
    2013= 150$
    2014= 8000$

    this is only backend. i made a few thousand bucks from upfront deals too.

    i made 500 tracks (no underscore or alt added) so far.

    So, the last big jump encourages me to move on. i hope the royalties will increase in the future.

    I love to produce but it would be really nice to make a living from it.

    persistance is the key thing i guess.

    would love to hear other stories from you composers out there.

    thanks and sorry for spelling mistake



    Very encouraging post.You’re doing very well Alan,i’m sure you’ll exceed the $20K+ mark very soon.From my brief experience so far (started in 2012 with an RF site and had my 1st contract with an exclusive library in January 2013)i get that there are no shortcuts in this biz.

    My short story so far:

    2012 = $300 (RF)
    2013 = $2,400 ($1,300 sync fees + $500 upfront + $600 RF)
    2014 = $9,600 ($4,200 PRO + $3,200 sync fees + $2,200 RF)


    Interesting thread!
    In my case, I uploaded my first track beginning Sept 2013. I started with 13 tracks. This number has progressively increased since, reaching around 45-50 tracks out there. All come with edits, an average of 10 per track. I am now in 3-4 NE, and 3 RFs. Not all tracks are in all libraries.
    Net income generated:
    Q4 2013: 100$
    Q1 2014: 250$
    Q2 2014: 200$
    Q3 2014: 500$
    Q4 2014: 450$
    PRO money: 0$
    Not much but it pays for the new plug-ins and sample packs. Seeing the exponential increase some of you experience, it gets me all excited: So, back composing in the studio !!! 🙂


    Groovydude, how has the last year been for you if I may ask?

    I’ve been doing the licensing thing since the summer of 2014, and things are really looking up for me. I’ve signed with 1 big hitter library and made several albums for them for a decent upfront fee. Signed multiple tracks to libraries represented by APM and EMI, and done an album for a WCPM library. Just started on another album for an APM library.

    I got my first royalty check in Sept. of 2015 for $500, but got $25 last quarter. But I’m not worried. I know I have a bunch of tracks that were placed on this one show on VH1 that re-airs a bunch in April-June, and they just filed out their cue sheets, so that payment will come in March. Hopefully this payout gets above 4 figures.

    All my placements so far are from my tracks I just started out with in 2014-mid 2015. Since about September of last year I started working with the higher up libraries, and most of that music isn’t even out yet. I’m interested to see what these royalties will be in a year, 2 years, 3 years. Hopefully high, I work pretty hard if I say so myself.

    2014 – $0
    2015 – $4,100
    Hoping for big things in 2016, but especially in 2017 and beyond.



    @Scott : These figures are great, would you mind mentionning how many tracks you have and if they are exclusives, non-exclusives or RF?




    what 135k from one track? is that actually possible. how could one track pay so much? not even high end trailers pay out that much.


    Really interesting post. I am new in the library world. Is’possible to have the name of all these libraries ?


    Hi, such an inspirational thread. I hope Alan or any of the other folks here could do an update til now (2017) if thats ok. your journeys are so helpful, entertaining and a pleasure to read since no two journeys are alike…thanks in advance

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