- May 1, 2016 at 9:50 am #24806
We see different forms of these questions all the time:
A) “How long will it take until I can quit my day job?”
B) “How much money can I make from composing?”
The brilliant folks at Output have put together some pretty cogent answers to those questions. The short answers are A) maybe forever and B) composing only makes up a small slice of a musician’s total income.
The quick takeaway is that the average income for musicians including all music revenue streams is about $35K. Composing accounts for only about 6% of that.May 1, 2016 at 11:07 am #24808Art MunsonKeymaster
Thanks MichaelL, added to the newbie page.May 2, 2016 at 7:57 am #24813Michael NickolasParticipant
Ok, so the case study has a musician
“who writes, records and performs his own music and regularly tours the US and abroad. He spent a significant amount of time as a salaried member of two different independent rock bands that actively toured the US and abroad, and typically played festivals and large rock clubs. When he tours his solo work, he performs in night clubs, galleries, pubs, art centers, museums, small theaters, and bars…He has appeared on fourteen records as a leader, 32 records as a band member and 27 records as a sideman. He manages his own tours and those of the various ensembles that he co-leads. He sometimes works with a booking agent for his solo tours in Europe.”
They sum up the case study with “After expenses and taxes, it’s estimated this musician will bring in around $12k in Net income. Not a huge number, but still not bad if you consider it supplemental income.”
Supplemental to what?? This guy is touring all the time in the states and abroad with two bands and performaing all over the place as a solo act. He’s doing sessions, managing all his tours and works with the agent. Is he really supposed to be doing all that around some kind of full time job?
The article missed the boat in their summary. There is a different story here.May 2, 2016 at 9:00 am #24815
I think there’s too much emphasis on this guy being an indie artist, which limits the story to a certain type of musician.
But, I think the overarching theme, which you’ve mentioned before, is that most composers need other sources of income, from music, or something else.
The income chart showing percentages of music/other income by age is kind of interesting.May 3, 2016 at 8:01 am #24840Michael NickolasParticipant
The chart was interesting, and I think pretty accurate. And you’re correct, I would say it takes three or four music job revenue streams to earn enough. The bulk of my income does come from composing, but income from libraries is just a small part of composing earnings.May 3, 2016 at 3:16 pm #24844music123Guest
Every guy has his own path and destiny I suppose. I don’t teach, don’t tour, and never perform live in my city anymore. I do write 1 track a week and upload to several libraries for 7 years now and I have finally topped the highest numbers on that chart in 2015. The earnings came from: back end PRO royalties, sync fees, and royalty free licenses sold.
You just have to have patience, mutiple revenue streams, and write the best tracks you think will work across many markets: RF, Reality TV, Sports Content, Trailers, TV Spots, etc. You do have to get 300 to 500 really good cues out there working for you and that does take a lot of time. 50 high quality tracks a year for 10 years ought to do the trick! I know, easier said than done, but it can be done!May 3, 2016 at 3:45 pm #24845
50 high quality tracks a year for 10 years ought to do the trick! I know, easier said than done, but it can be done!
The trick, I think, and the point of the article is that you’ve got to do something to pay the bills and keep a roof over your head during the 7 to 10 years that it takes to accumulate 300 to 500 really good tracks.May 3, 2016 at 10:36 pm #24846JerryGuest
What if you can make 300 good quality tracks a year? Would you be able to make $100,000+ in 3-4 years time?May 3, 2016 at 11:39 pm #24847Mark_PetrieParticipant
What if you can make 300 good quality tracks a year? Would you be able to make $100,000+ in 3-4 years time?
It depends, of course, what ‘good quality’ means. If your work is amongst the best you can find on RF sites, then you might be one of the best performing RF composers. Top composers on sites like AS, ML etc make four figures each month.
If they’re amongst the best you’ll hear on reality TV shows, then (in a good, not too big library) you’ll become a go-to composer for reality TV editors (they often look up a composer’s other tracks when they find a piece they like). Depending on the shows and where they air, after 3-4 years at 300 tracks a year, for sure you could making $100,000+.
My take (and this is based off 11 years of writing full time) is that 900-1000 tracks could make you anywhere from $20k – $200k from reality TV performance royalties, and where you fit into that range depends on these things:
1) consistency – 300 tracks a year for 3-4 years is a highly ambitious goal (more than one finished and delivered every weekday of the year), especially to maintain consistent quality across a fairly diverse range of styles and emotions. But if you can pull it off, 900 – 1000 good tracks is a great foundation for living off your music full time.
2) Your tracks are in the hands of smart libraries that aren’t too big or easy to get into (you don’t want to be a needle in a haystack that is constantly having tons of ‘hay’ / tracks added), and actually have good connections to TV producers and their editors. Where the music airs matter of course too – networks and 1st tier cable are much much better for royalties than 2nd tier / obscure channels. I think that still falls under how smart the library is 🙂
3) Your tracks are what the client wants and will use i.e not just the library but the library’s clients / customers. Your tracks can be amazing but never get used because they’re not appropriate for the client’s projects, (which could come down to structure, style and feel) or on the other hand, the production might not be super great but you somehow captured just the right vibe / tone of a show and make a killing.
I guess a 4th deciding factor is where the business is headed in terms of performance royalties rates, cord-cutting etc, but that’s a whole other topic 🙂May 4, 2016 at 5:44 am #24849
It depends, of course, what ‘good quality’ means.
That says it all.
Maybe it would be helpful to put up an example of what you (and others, including myself) would mean by
I know that we can easily spend a week, or more, on a single track.
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