How much $$$?

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This topic contains 17 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  Art Munson 1 week ago.

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  • #32481 Reply

    daveydad
    Participant

    I realize not everyone will want to disclose this, but I’m curious how much you guys make from music per year? Last year I made about $5650 but I’m on a roll this year and on track to make over $10,000. That includes everything: backend, streaming, RF downloads, oddball custom composing jobs, etc etc. Yeah, not enough to live off of… but I don’t need to.

    #32486 Reply

    MM_Musicworks
    Participant

    I am a newbie to the scene… Started making tracks and uploading to RF sites in May 2018… Finished June 2019 with about 90 tracks…

    Made around $2000 till 30th June 2019…

    Haven’t yet established relationships with backend generating libraries… Hoping to do that starting this 2nd year of my music library foray!

    I am grateful for MLR… So much wisdom and perspective… Invaluable to a noob like me.

    Cheers! 🙂

    #32489 Reply

    daveydad
    Participant

    That’s not bad!! I don’t do much sales anymore with RF libraries except Pond5. Not sure why….

    #32494 Reply

    MM_Musicworks
    Participant

    Yes… P5 is my principle earner as well…

    #32511 Reply

    Mark_Petrie
    Participant

    I won’t mention what I make today, but here’s a rough estimate (give or take 20%) of what I made from library music in my first years doing it full time (sales, licensing, royalties, upfront fees):
    1) $400
    2) $1200
    3) $35,000
    4) $55,000
    5) $80,000
    6) $100,000

    I’ve been lucky – no doubt – but I think this trajectory is pretty typical if you’re able to do this full time, and are always looking to improve both the client friendliness of your music (TV, advertising), and the quality of the libraries you work with. My break in that third year was working as a contributing writer for reality TV composers, who would hire me to write dozens of tracks.

    #32512 Reply

    Dannyc
    Participant

    thanks for your openness Mark. one thing you didn’t mention is the year you started. do you think if you were a media composer starting today versus 10years ago would those numbers be achievable with exponentially more publishers and composers now working in the music production sync game competing for the same gigs?

    #32513 Reply

    MM_Musicworks
    Participant

    Amazing! Thank you Mark!

    #32514 Reply

    LAwriter

    The trajectory of earning of someone starting after 2015 is going to be radically different from someone who started in the early 00’s or late 90’s. Radically different.

    #32547 Reply

    Lucky S

    Mark’s income ladder is not as easily achieved in today’s licensing world for a couple of reasons… while he has worn a variety of money-generating hats in the music composing business… his bread-and-butter is trailer music. Those used to pay much higher than they do today but those were also bigger buyout deals. It (usually) did not include any back-end royalties because the buy-outs were large. Now… those same trailer buy-outs have diminished in scale, volume and revenue and now (in varying degrees) include back-end royalties (which is sort of a joke when you realize the shelf-life of film trailers!)… and “trailer music” like every other form of work in the music business is completely over-saturated with young composers living at home and willing to work for less-and-less (or nothing thus having diluted the industry run by vampires)…

    #32552 Reply

    NY Composer
    Participant

    I’m also sure that when Mark started, he established relationships with Libs who pay up front or upon delivery. He may have kept these relationships going.

    I’m only aware of 2 or 3 Libs that pay up front nower days. It says a lot.

    #32554 Reply

    Mark_Petrie
    Participant

    OK sorry for the late reply.

    I’m going to break down Lucky’s, LAWriter’s and NYwriter’s responses: (and I apologize for singling you guys out, but I hear these things all the time and wanted to address them)

    The trajectory of earning of someone starting after 2015 is going to be radically different from someone who started in the early 00’s or late 90’s. Radically different.

    Maybe I’m jaded from reading too much doom and gloom on the internet, but I’m assuming you mean it’s harder than it was 15 years ago. I would disagree completely – my basic ‘career’ path (if you can call it that) has been so far: write for ultra low budget films (keep doing this throughout) –> write for libraries that didn’t pay me anything upfront –> contribute music for reality TV composers –> write for higher end libraries –> keep doing all that AND start trying to write trailer music –> write trailer music long enough that I get good enough to have a placement every couple of months or so.

    I think you’ll find that anyone can still do that, in fact there’s more demand than ever for music at all levels – indie projects TV, and high end stuff like trailers. Not to mention – the tools are cheaper, faster, and all the education you’d ever need is on YouTube or online courses. Sure, stock sites are clogged up now, but I’m not really talking about those. I think the main thing that’s made it harder to succeed as a composer (or anything really) these days is more DISTRACTION – social media, info addiction, addictive games you play on your phone…

    Mark’s income ladder is not as easily achieved in today’s licensing world for a couple of reasons… while he has worn a variety of money-generating hats in the music composing business… his bread-and-butter is trailer music.

    No it’s not actually. Performance royalties from general library use still make up the majority of my income.

    Those used to pay much higher than they do today but those were also bigger buyout deals. It (usually) did not include any back-end royalties because the buy-outs were large. Now… those same trailer buy-outs have diminished in scale, volume and revenue and now (in varying degrees) include back-end royalties (which is sort of a joke when you realize the shelf-life of film trailers!)…

    Actually if you work with a range of libraries in the trailer world, you’ll find that, if anything, license are as high as ever, thanks to the boutique libraries at the top commanding huge fees, and the rise of custom work (incorporating themes, or song melodies) that naturally get $40K – $90K (sometimes more) a pop due to the buy out nature of the job.

    and “trailer music” like every other form of work in the music business is completely over-saturated with young composers living at home and willing to work for less-and-less (or nothing thus having diluted the industry run by vampires)…

    Do you mean the ‘epic orchestral music’ popping up on P5, AJ etc? Yes there’s a ton of that now. But music at the production value required for trailers, combined with the authentic sound of trailer music, is still rare, and anyone producing it has a strong chance of placement in TV spots and trailers, IF (big IF) they put their music in the hands of great libraries.

    I’m also sure that when Mark started, he established relationships with Libs who pay up front or upon delivery. He may have kept these relationships going.

    I’m only aware of 2 or 3 Libs that pay up front nower days. It says a lot.

    When I started, I was doing films for free or next to nothing, then keeping the rights to the music, and then plugging it into non-ex libraries. This helped a trickle of royalties start to come in. I didn’t start working with libraries that paid well upfront ($500 or more per track) until about four years into writing full time, and those deals were work for hire, as in, I got the writer’s share of the performance royalties, but no licensing. So in the long run, I started to move away from most of those deals as they felt a bit like fool’s gold.
    What really got me going royalties wise was helping reality TV composers with their shows. They’d take half the writers (usually – sometimes less, a few times more), but generally it was an ok deal at the time because I’d get a little upfront ($100 – $250 a track) and the tracks would have a strong chance of getting used immediately.

    #32559 Reply

    boinkeee2000
    Participant

    ive been at this for 2yrs, got my first BMI royalty check last month for $25 (ate at sizzler)…based on an exponential trajectory ill be hitting 100k by 2045 😀

    #32561 Reply

    Music1234
    Participant

    I didn’t start working with libraries that paid well upfront ($500 or more per track) until about four years into writing full time, and those deals were work for hire, as in, I got the writer’s share of the performance royalties, but no licensing. So in the long run, I started to move away from most of those deals as they felt a bit like fool’s gold.

    Could not agree more. I would absolutely never ever hand over my tracks for a lousy $500. Controlling your entire catalog to sell however you want, and wherever you want is the easier road to 6 figures. My earnings trajectory was strikingly similar to Marks. I think a newbie writer can get there but they have to be willing to dedicate 5 to 10 years and write 1000 really good tracks! You have to put in the time.

    Thanks for sharing your journey Mark. We’re all still on this journey and I do not look forward to the day when earnings start to drop year of over year. I can deal with stagnation, but I’ll get concerned if I ever see earnings drop year over year. That has not happened yet but one gets a sense that it may happen soon with the disturbing trends we all see. Further devaluation by composers accepting horrible deals out of ignorance and paranoia, too many networks paying blankets, but no PRO – GAC, HGTV, SCRIPPS, ESPN, Big 10 Network, etc. This practice is officially annoying and is just overt theft. I am getting thousands of detections on these networks and never am I paid royalties, but I will protest this soon and just ask these libraries for money. They serve up my music and others, pocket blanket fees ($300 to $1000 an episode, or juicy annual access to the entire catalog for a 1 year blanket license fee), then don’t share any money with the writers. This is bogus and unethical.

    What’s even more bizarre is how cue sheets get filed, but the PRO’s don’t pay off them anyway. Something does not add up. Then we all earn .01 cents for streaming on HULU Amazon VOD, and NETFLIX. .00000037 cents a stream…….SAD!

    #32563 Reply

    SMCM

    I had an income ladder/progression very similar to Mark’s, only a little quicker because reality TV writing was my very first gig. I think having a gig like that is fairly crucial – the placements flow in heavily and quickly, and even though you get less writers share, the income builds up nicely. The tricky part is finding the composers/companies that deal directly with reality TV clients and get your tracks straight into editors’ harddrives.

    Not at all saying that’s the only way to do it! Royalties with bigger and more “standard” production music libraries will build up over time as well, especially with international representation. But if it wasn’t for the reality TV gig, I probably wouldn’t be making a living yet.

    #32564 Reply

    daveydad
    Participant

    I’ve only been at this a few years and reality TV is definitely my bread and butter.

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