Fighting the "Race to the Bottom"

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  • #9930 Reply

    I have around 40 tracks that I have a in 2 libraries. One pays more than the other. As I consider, with the help of this great site, expanding my presence beyond these, I see a few libraries that are perhaps “boutique” high-end, many exclusive–these I’m trying to get into, and a somewhat disconcerting lower end.

    To write, record, edit, mix, master, render, manage files, upload and configure songs of any quality takes time… a lot. I can’t see doing this and placing my music on sites that sell songs for ~$25, of which I get half.

    How are people approaching this? I guess one angle is that it all averages out to a decent price as long as the higher end sites are selling your tracks. I’ve not been able to stomach, so far, placing my sonic children in these lower priced libraries.

    #9938 Reply
    Art Munson

    I think we all initially struggled with the same issue. Most come to realize that this business is really a numbers games and requires a LOT of effort. The number of 1000-1500 pieces of music is talked about a lot here as the number you will need to make a decent living (6 figures). It could be less, a lot less. I know of one composer who will make 7 figures off of one cue! That is the exception rather than the rule though. You also need a number of income streams to achieve this. I would stay away from low ball sites and pricing your music in the $5 range. Many composers on RF sites price in the $40 to $50 range and do well. I always tell people patience and persistence. This passion of ours is very hard work!

    #9939 Reply

    Those kinds of libraries will only yield benefits if you’re the type that will constantly be writing and uploading music. It’s a marathon, but you’ll start seeing money coming in if you stick with it.

    #9952 Reply

    Don’t worry about the race. Keep writing, make money, and have fun!

    #9957 Reply

    I’ve no licensing experience, but a little from marketing in my own field (current day job).

    The race to the bottom is in loads of areas. If you’re creating high-quality content –¬†your target customer will recognise that, and use it to add value to whatever project they’re involved with.

    Don’t forget that there’s a lot of evidence for a higher price-tag adding uber-value to your product. Read Robert Cialdini’s ‘Influence’ for more.

    #9966 Reply
    Mark Lewis

    Great advice from Art and Bronxabomb.
    The “lower priced libraries” are going after a market that did not really exist before the digital revolution. The are millions of new customers out there that need legal music for their home projects and small businesses that definitely cannot afford to pay the fees that some composers are used to getting from broadcasters and ad agencies.
    If you choose to tap into that market and make lots of sales at $39.95 to $129.95 then that will be just one more income stream for you.
    Or you can only go exclusive and wait for that big break / payout (which in my opinion will be happening less and less as companies find affordable alternatives).
    As suggested by Art a combination of these is probably your best bet.

    In regards to the amount of time invested to create a track, the fact is that they are already done, they exist. What you do with them from now on is pure profit. Uploading your music has been made fairly easy to most libraries, you do it once and then earn money forever. It’s not like digging a ditch everyday to put food on the table. If you made a sandwich and sold it to someone you would have to make another sandwich for the next customer. Music isn’t like that. With music you are selling copies of the same sandwich. I would suggest looking at your investment of time into creating and uploading music as if you were making a deposit into a 401k that starts paying immediate dividends and keeps paying them forever.
    We have been paying some of our composers every month for more than 17 years. I think they would say their time investment was definitely worth it.


    #9969 Reply
    Mark Lewis

    I’d like to post an example just so composers get a better feeling for what they might expect from non-exclusive libraries, or as they are called in this thread “lower priced libraries”.
    I just received a really nice thank you letter from one of our newer composers that reads as follows:
    “I just wanted to send you a quick email to say thank you for accepting me into your library and for the many sales you have gotten for me so far! I greatly appreciate it.”

    This composer is very good. He has high quality, professionally produced music in genres that sell well.
    He has 79 tracks in our library which is just above the minimum amount of 50 needed for acceptance into the library.
    He as earned a total of $1355.68 in the 6 months he has been with us.
    That’s about $226 a month on 79 songs.

    That’s what you might expect from “lower priced libraries” if you are a talented composer with a smaller library.

    Composers of this caliber with 300-1000 tracks in their catalog earn *a lot* more.


    #9970 Reply

    The best way to fight the race to the bottom is by not supporting the bottom. Don’t up-load your music to sites selling tracks for $17….We all should really try hard to set a minimum price of $50 in the royalty free enviornment. For someone needing a cheap track for their low budget media project is there really a difference between $20 and $50???

    I think not.

    But for composers there is a big difference earning $25 for 100 sales of tracks verses earning only $5 for 100 sales of tracks.

    Let’s all strive to set a minimum that makes sense for everyone: the buyer and the seller and of course, the site owners. $17 a track at places like AJ….is absurd!

    Ask yourself, would you rather have 200 sales for $5 a track or sell 5 or 6 tracks for $250?

    #9971 Reply

    I guess I still do not get the race to the bottom argument. I think that composers should sell at whatever price they feel comfortable with, including giving away free music. It is an individual choice.

    I would love to sell a license for one track a month for $10,000. That is not likely. So if I settle for selling licenses for 100 tracks a month at $100 each, am I devaluing music? What works for me is going to be different than what works for someone else.

    I think composers should absolutely charge as much as they can get. But at the same time, I do not think it is necessary to make composers feel guilty for selling their music cheaply. Perhaps selling a lot of tracks at a lower price is a greater reward than selling a few tracks at a high price.

    Is music still fun, or is it all business? It is a mixture of both for me. I am always seeking ways to make more from my music, but I am not obsessed with it. That obsession was something I struggled with for a while. I just had to take a breather and stopped comparing myself to everyone else. Things will be okay in the end. Music is still loved by most people in the world.

    #9974 Reply
    Art Munson

    The number of 1000-1500 pieces of music is talked about a lot here as the number you will need to make a decent living (6 figures).

    Does that mean 1000 completely unique tracks, or total number of tracks though duplicated across a number of different libraries?

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