Full time composers – Share your stories

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  • #37372 Reply

    really good advice there LAwriter thanks. yeah i have given myself a 2 year time horizon and have spoken to my employer about it. i will try reduce my hours in the day job in 12 months if i see things going in the right direction. wouldn’t pull the plug completely on the day job as its still a good career to fall back on if the music doesnt work out as planned.

    #37412 Reply

    I’m full time – I got my first ever back-end royalty in 2011 – it was £23 and I purchased a frame for the PRS statement with that lofty amount printed on it and a botle of cheap bubbly to celebrate with my wife. The framed statement is still on the wall in my studio. Five years later I quit my job, as my earnings (which are almost entirely all back end) had surpassed my salary. If it all ended tomorrow and I had to go out and get a ”real” job I’d be thankful I had five years doing the thing I love for a living.

    #37461 Reply
    TV Bro

    full-time,21 years, 160,000 to 180,000 yr
    probably 3,000 titles or more
    many styles and genres, my catalogue covers a broad range, and my production is considered top notch, I try to find a balance between really good and not spending more time than necessary on a track. I work for a very limited amount of publshers, and I’ve had a handful of trailer licenses…and ‘trailer style’ tracks have been good for my TV catalogue as well 🙂

    #37462 Reply

    It took me a year or two to make low 4 figures annually off the backs of 150 exclusive tracks or so. I started in 2015. Sucked the joy right out of my music unfortunately and started a job in real estate development 2 years later. Much higher risk but much bigger potential for rewards. Having financial freedom to do whatever I want, include making music, is my new goal and I anticipate a few more years of grinding between stocks and other investments to make that a reality. Still get around $1200 a year in royalties though and am able to write off gear on my taxes 🙂 For me I realized turning something you love into a job makes it a job.

    #37463 Reply

    In 2015 I kinda stumbled into this field by getting recruited into a library company that works directly with lots of reality TV shows while just posting music for fun on youtube. It was a lucky opportunity, a music supervisor and composer who happened to need help with the cinematic side of his employer’s catalogue. He reached out to me after finding my music on youtube and we had a phone call, and I decided to go for it. Started writing 5 tracks a week with mentoring from that music supervisor, and after 3 years, I felt comfortable quitting my day job. It was year 4 that I made $60k+

    Along the way, I started learning more about the library business and reaching out to make my own contacts with other more traditional libraries, and also got into trailer music as a side hustle. The reality TV stuff is my bread and butter work, and I do occasional solo albums for other libraries to get my own ideas and creativity out.

    I’ve realized after reading quite a few stories that I managed to have an exceptionally fast launch. I’ll chalk that up mostly to luck, as my first library contact ended up being a very important and lucrative one. But I’ve gotta say, jumping straight into 5 tracks a week while working a full time office job sure was something. I’m very grateful for where I’ve made it today.

    #37482 Reply

    I’m a lifelong musician who made the jump into writing production music 4 years ago and am now full time, earning mid five figures between sync fees and royalties.

    I spent the previous 10 years as a gigging sideman musician, band member, and music teacher and was able to start out by writing library cues during the daytime before rehearsals, music lessons (after kids get off school), and gigs (night times).

    When starting out, I decided to cast a wide net and submit my first 12 songs album to as many non-exclusive libraries as I could find as an info gathering action. I had no idea what would work and what wouldn’t. I lucked out and found a few libraries that earned enough money to encourage me to pursue writing more. I wrote 3-4 more 12 song albums and after a year, I was bringing in 1k/month, which was enough to make me stop taking some gigs, stop accepting new music students, and focus even more time and resources on making my production music cues even better.

    During my first few years (and still), I did my due diligence, spent countless hours on the web, YouTube, listening to podcasts, reading MLR, etc., and decided to write some albums for exclusive libraries, as well as continuing to feed the NE ones that’d been supplementing my other music income. I considered the amount of work I was doing researching + writing to be full time (at least 40 hrs a week), but I was also still playing some jobbing gigs, performing with passion project bands, and teaching a handful of music students every week. My income in the first several years didn’t reflect the amount of time I was putting in, but I loved that my schedule was always filled with something musical, and that I was building ownership over music I had written, and getting paid again and again for it, instead of working on other people’s music for a one-time sideman fee.

    In my third year, I was offered a full time, exclusive (couldn’t write for other libraries) writing deal with a library who expected a certain amount of tracks per month in exchange for a monthly salary (sync buyout) + I got to keep 100% writer’s royalties. I did this for almost a year and continued my sideman + teaching duties part time until that library dropped me as a writer. They stated that they wanted to bring in some new writers to diversify their catalog and had to make room.

    My fourth year was filled with several albums, co-writer collaborations, new deals with new libraries including ones with up front production money and advances, and finally seeing PRO returns on the exclusive albums I’d submitted several years ago. I was thrilled to see placements on CBS, NBC, PBS, BBC, RTL, Discovery, Netflix, commercials, and more!

    I’m now not gigging at all (COVID) but still teach music lessons 1 day per week to help others with their musical pursuits. Other than that, library music is my full-time pursuit.

    My thoughts about going full-time:
    -Try to lower your expenses. This will allow you the time required to write enough music to afford more!
    -Everything you need to know can be found for free on the University of YouTube, web forums, magazine articles, podcasts etc. The educational resources I’ve paid for include this forum (Great job, Thanks Art!), and to attend the Production Music Conference held by the PMA.
    -Long game. There’s no jumping in immediately at 60-100k. Work and study at it like you’re a student who needs 6-8 years of schooling (masters degree) before you’re worth that much to an employer.
    -Specialize in whatever music you’re the best at and try your hardest to stick with it

    Best wishes!

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