Full time composers – Share your stories

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  • #37342 Reply
    LAwriter
    Participant

    Given all the negative changes in our business over recent time, I felt like I was working for pennies, and that is not where I want to be.

    I hear ya. For me, it’s never been about huge payouts on individual placements. Sure, they come in from time to time, but it’s been large numbers of continually playing shows that make the backbone of my payments. Lots and lots and lots of little trickles make a huge river.

    Unfortunately, my actual bottom line payouts have roughly stayed the “same” for a decade – even though adding hundreds of placements. The ultimate payout has gone from 10’s of dollars, to dollars, to quarters, and now, with streaming sometimes down to $0.01. I guess you can’t go lower than that eh? LOL. There ARE more venue’s to be played / streamed at though, but even so, the numbers per placement or per title are down significantly. (After talking with several publishers and writers, it’s looking like close to a 90% decrease in payout when your show goes to streaming – and that’s a hard pill to swallow.)

    So yeah, starting out and seeing pennies is not a great way to get excited about earning a living in production music. I think that perhaps it still can be done, but I wouldn’t want to be the one trying to figure out the new game plan. Plus….when AI hits, I think all bets are off. We’re going to see another huge paradigm shift. At that point, once the glut ensues and music users are overwhelmed with the mass of input — the only ones selling custom music will be those who make it with REAL musicians, recorded with microphones and real instruments. That will be the final frontier I think.

    But it’s all just my observations and opinion. cheers,

    #37343 Reply
    BrianMcGravey
    Participant

    I’m by no means receiving full-time income yet but I’m producing a lot of music these days. I started about 3 years ago and have roughly 330 exclusive tracks and probably just as many non-exclusive (but I don’t write NE music much anymore). The wait for royalties was very long (2-3 quarters in a row I got “snubbed” even though my music was within the range of that quarter’s payout). Now I’m consistently receiving ASCAP royalties almost every quarter (never publishing royalties yet though). The range is still low at my highest quarter being about $150-180 ish. I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon because I’m enjoying creating music, and I now realize it will take many more years before I can earn a decent income (hopefully within 4-5 years but we shall see!). The whole Pond5, Getty images restructuring really hurt me and made me focus on exclusive stuff but I was getting monthly royalties greater than my current ASCAP averages. I hope to have a 4 figure payout at some point next year and that will really give me some hope for the future! Now that I’m writing several albums per month, I’m addicted to it so, if nothing else, I’m getting joy out of it and increasing my value and skillset as a musician.

    #37344 Reply
    Dannyc
    Participant

    so my experience after year 4 is low 4 figures at the end of 2020. most of that came from 60 exclusive tracks i have out there among 3-4 publishers. i guess i might actually be doing better than i initially thought but i guess i just feel it should be more at this stage. i guess my main problem is having so few tracks out there and working a full time day job so if anything the one thing i need right now more than anything is time to write more music.

    #37345 Reply
    Michael Nickolas
    Participant

    Unfortunately, my actual bottom line payouts have roughly stayed the “same” for a decade – even though adding hundreds of placements.

    LAwriter is exactly right. An eleven page ASCAP statement from 12 years ago paid me just about the same amount as an eighty one page statement from January 2021. This is not encouraging to anyone, to say the least. Add to that RF sites cutting payout percentages, reporting drastically lower sales numbers, or just disappearing entirely. Newcomers and old-timers alike are facing challenges.

    #37346 Reply
    LAwriter
    Participant

    An eleven page ASCAP statement from 12 years ago paid me just about the same amount as an eighty one page statement from January 2021.

    When asked “why can I have triple the number of placements, same venue’s and have the same payout, BMI essentially just shrugged their shoulders and said “that’s just how it is”. Essentially, no matter what I do, or how many new shows I add – I’ve hit the proverbial glass ceiling. I must say though that I don’t rattle their cage a lot. I suppose if I did I might eek more out of them. BMI is not a helpful or well paying organization IMO.

    #37347 Reply
    Michael Nickolas
    Participant

    Essentially, no matter what I do, or how many new shows I add – I’ve hit the proverbial glass ceiling.

    Exactly again. It’s been a tease for me over the years. Getting enough to see the possibilities and keep me going, but never actually realizing the possibilities. And through no fault of my own, because “that’s just how it is”.

    #37351 Reply
    MichaelL
    Participant

    i guess my main problem is having so few tracks out there and working a full time day job so if anything the one thing i need right now more than anything is time to write more music.

    Two questions:
    1) Is your current full-time job a potential well-paying career?
    2) If so, do you hate it so much that you’d rather do this?

    I’ve said it before. There are easier ways to make money and better ways to make music. At some point, even writing music can become a “job,” like any other job, which can suck the life out of your passion for music if you aren’t careful.

    #37352 Reply
    LAwriter
    Participant

    I’ve said it before. There are easier ways to make money and better ways to make music. At some point, even writing music can become a “job,” like any other job, which can suck the life out of your passion for music if you aren’t careful.

    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    TRUTH!! @MichaelL

    #37370 Reply
    Dannyc
    Participant

    Two questions:
    1) Is your current full-time job a potential well-paying career?
    2) If so, do you hate it so much that you’d rather do this?

    my current career pays very well, just under 6 figures last year.
    but its not fulfilling as it once was. kinda lost the motivation and ambition for it and i’m not sure why. sure it pays well and pays the bills but the idea of doing it for the next 20years of my life is depressing.
    funny enough i never really hated my job but because my goals and ambitions have now switched to try aim for success in the music industry its caused the day job to become a bit of a drag.

    honestly one of the best outcomes would for the music to get to a point were it makes up 25%-40% of my income therefore alllowiing me go part time in the day job perhaps doing a 3-4 day working week. thats my initial goal anything but will have to see how things pan out over the next 2 years or so.

    #37371 Reply
    LAwriter
    Participant

    Danny – if your employer will accommodate you, and if you can deal with the financial sacrifice of going part time for a couple of years, I say do it for 2 years and put EVERYTHING into writing and producing music on your spare 3-4 days for the entire period. Go totally crazy on building your catalog and contacts.

    Then, at the end of 2 years. Re-access. One of 3 things will become fairly obvious. If job security and a 6 figure income is a necessity and/or your goal, I’d guess you will go back to your full time day gig. If writing music part time makes enough of the difference (hopeful, but probably in all reality doubtful) to give you enough hope – then stay on part time until you can pull the plug on the day job. if you end up making 100k+ in those 2 years, see a bright horizon, and can deal with the ups and downs of the industry and having an income that moves all over the place – then pull the plug on the day gig!!!

    The reality is – quite frankly from my point of view – that getting to a full time salary (especially 6 figures) takes a long term (deacade+) level of commitment that few have the resources or life situation to accommodate. Especially in 2021.

    Best of luck.

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