Importance of Elite Libraries

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  • #28227 Reply

    Hi, i’ve been trying to wrap my head around music libraries and seem to come to an assumption based on info here and other like forums that getting into music libraries associated with PMA is the ultimate goal to secure a long term livable career in this field…Ive read stories from other composers that the turning point in their careers (and income) is when they got into the big boys club, and everything was uphill from there.

    with song quality and quantity, tenacity for the business, and knowing its a marathon and not a sprint aside, would you say its not possible to take this field seriously until you’re making music for the PMA libraries? is a livable, sustainable career possible without being in the “elite” club?, and is there a significant income difference between RF/mid tier NE focused composers and PMA established composers (excluding the big names i.e. quincy jones/snoop) where its still worth all your time and effort hounding and scraping your way to get an in from them, or is the tide changing down ahead? thanks

    #28228 Reply

    Great question. I’d like to hear it too. I’ve been working with the big guys, getting $500+ per track for the last year 1/2. A lot of the royalties haven’t started coming in yet.

    #28229 Reply

    I would not say writing for PMA libraries is the goal. I have many albums with top A level PMA libraries that I was paid great up front buyout money for that are embarrassingly (on their part) unworked. I have no idea why they commissioned me to do them if they didn’t need them or weren’t going to push them, but the cold harsh reality is, this game is a crapshoot, and there are no guarantee’s. I’ve had better success on back end with non-exclusive libraries, and WAY better front end sync’s with non-exclusives. Go figure.

    As I mentioned elsewhere, the industry is in such a state of constant change that perpetuity deals are not something I want to take on now. If you’re basing your business model on “back end royalties” to make things work financially, you’d best have a look at what netflix, et al are doing to the composers who have their series, films, shows, etc. ported over to them.

    Instead of being able to buy a nice used car like you could if they were aired on network primetime, you’ll be taking your family out to McDonalds with your entire quarterly payout for that show. It’s that bad – and it’s happing in alarming rates. HUGE household name companies are getting into bed with Netflix now.

    I held publishing on a handful of songs that was placed on a large studio that had their own cable channel. For 3 quarters, I didn’t get any royalties off them and I was wondering what had happened. They had been a decent steady earner of between $500-800 a quarter for 10+ years. This quarters BMI showed the answer. They have been moved over to Netflix. They paid out less than $10.

    From hundreds to $10. If you’re going for the backend model, I sincerely hope you can work on stuff that won’t be moved over to Netflix. EVER. Or your business model is going down faster than the titanic.

    #28230 Reply

    Good morning to All. I compose for a few PMA associated Libraries, and are a PMA member. I recently got into the RF side, or as I have coined it “Pre-Paid Like a Metro”. I am finding that a combination of a few “better boutique exclusives”, with some RF, and non exclusives has been been working well for me.

    The BIG thing is doing a TON of research on who will be the best fit for you; and where “your contributions won’t go into a HUGE pile of other similar musics”.

    #28231 Reply

    Thanks LAWriter and Beatslinger for your insight. would you say your income (front, sync, back) from the PMA libraries would drastically impact your bottom line if it were to disappear? or do your other income streams carry most of the load?

    I ask because im in the dark, atm i have just under 100 songs and need to take advantage of a 6 month hiatus from my business to focus mainly on composing and expanding my catalog, hence i need to use my time and efforts wisely.

    a quality track from extreme/warner etc. would take me 1 week (or more) to produce especially if everything is organic. a happy ukelele track, rock track or a hiphop orchestral that i hear from the RF sites would be around 1-3 days. and a tension cue/drone or solo guitar/piano piece i usually can do 2-3 a day…

    sorry if this is sounding like a math problem, but with the 6 month caveat, would it be wise to place my bets creating 24 tracks to pitch to the elites? create about 80-100 tracks specifically for mid tier NE & RF libraries? or do a crapload of drones and solo pieces to throw at the wall?

    heres a sample of my work

    tbh, this is a really frightening business to a newcomers eyes… to follow a path that might lead to a dead end, make a composing strategy that ends up as a wrong decision 2 years later, or the whole sync world implodes suddenly taking with it the 1k+ material youve amassed.

    thats why a lot of my composer buddies wont come near this side of the biz or they give up so early. If the long road wont scare you, the darkness will…not to mention all the wolves in sheeps clothing along the way..

    I commend all of you making a living and sticking to this for years/decades, in reality you guys are the exception and not the norm,
    Its a good thing not a lot of folks can bear this. Also thanks for your insight and knowledge you give for free while others take advantage…

    I apologize for the winded commentary, i guess it needed to come out

    #28232 Reply

    seriously OP we all need to be honest with ourselves before we start aiming so high. extreme music has the best composers in the world on their books, if you’re music is good enough they will find you eventually not the other way around. unless you’re doing something that is so drastically new, fresh and interesting then extreme will not be getting back to you. you have good production skills from what i listened too but i would just start with getting your foot on the ladder and seeing how things work out from there. maybe start with a few RF libraries and see if you can catch some sales that way you will know where your strengths are.

    this is just my opinion so just take it with a pinch of salt.

    #28233 Reply

    Thanks Dannyc for chiming in and your insight. In no way did i want to come across or assume that my music is comparable or better than whats on extreme or any class A libraries. Im in the position of ignorance not arrogance…I honestly feel im not even close. but my concern is on what to aim for, meaning I have to have a goal regardless if my music and production is .9% or 99% close to theirs. And if pursuing 24 tracks this next 6 months only to have a .00001% chance of getting in PMA libraries is a waste of time and effort, then ill scratch that option and start focusing my efforts on lower tier RF sites, which leads me back to the same original questions, “is a livable, sustainable career possible without being in the “elite” club?”

    #28234 Reply

    Just a word of caution for all. The PMA is a huge organization with many members and only a handful of those could be considered Elite. Any library can join the PMA just like any composer can. No barriers. The PMA (elite) will bash non exclusive work and RF work and unless you are an A list composer will not offer any upfront. For many of us, this is not realistic and the PMA admin does not realize or accept that. In some ways it is like an exclusive club and if you do happen to meet anyone of importance at their events. The first question is “So, which libraries do you work for ?” If you do not have any A lists in there, it does not go very far. And if you mention Non Ex or RF, it will NOT go down well at all. In some cases, doing the walk and doing the talk supersedes talent and you will find a few A list composers who do just that. If anyone is going to the PMA conference this year, just be prepared. @LAwriter, I think you have this whole thing well figured out. Good luck y’all

    #28235 Reply

    Good morning to All. In response to Boinkee, the way that I was able to get into “a couple of the so-called A List Libraries was I didn’t write specifically to get into them”. My process was compose, and just keep working on my catalog(s) This is a VERY tricky business, and until you know for sure that it will be sustainable; always have your steady hustle/income. Everything always works better when you are NOT depending on it, or that your life will go into shambles if it doesn’t come through!!

    (what I do)
    Compose stuff that I really loved; or that I really wanted to hear from a listeners stand-point. When “those compositions that just feel SOOO RIGHT” came; I would simply tuck them into a special folder and keep moving. If you are writing for specifics, in my opinion it really slows me down; and stifles my creative flow. Just write/compose to write. The HOT ones will come!

    When I had enough material, in what I felt was my “Hot Folder” (I’ve dubbed mine The AAA) I would submit those as my Top Tier Tracks.

    MusicMatters, you are absolutely right. PMA does NOT necessarily mean that you are now in some type of elite group. In fact, I am getting a HUGE amount from The MLR threads! The wonderful Candor that takes place here, and “Reading the reviews of the Libraries has been of GREAT Value!!”

    What ever you do. If it is something that you love. KEEP GOING!!

    #28236 Reply

    When all is said and done success comes from very hard work and dedication. I decided to take the risk on this business 10 years ago and tossed all of my existing music into an NE library simply because there was “nothing to lose”. I really though I’d just earn hobby income or extra spending money. It was just that initially.

    Somewhere along the line I doubled down and decided to roll up my sleeves and write more tracks and bring them to market. Then it became a weekly habit. The revenue was increasing quarter after quarter. Then you say “I am all in on this” and you must march to thousands of tracks produced. Along the way, you keep feeding the hands that feed you (with sync fees and royalties).

    There are no short cuts to this business. It is a grind and a long term grind.

    No one here is going to rattle off a free list of companies that have succeeded for themselves. Why should they? They went through the grind and had to figure it out. You don’t just then give away tips on how to succeed. One tip we can all probably agree on is that this business takes 2 things:
    1. Volume
    2. Quality

    As far as which publishers, stock sites, and libraries to sell and license your music on goes, well…I have to think that we all have a different story. Some may work for one writer and another writer may say I have never earned from that site or publisher.

    When all is said and done the winners will be:
    1. The one’s who control and own their own catalog.
    2. The one’s who have thousands of tracks on the market across several music licensing platforms (I do not think hundreds is enough you have to get to thousands and thousands takes 20 years),
    3. The one’s that write good music that the public wants and needs.

    Writing for the private PMA club, or even trying to get into that club should not be your goal. Had I jumped on that train and gave all my music to 1 PMA exclusive library and stayed 100% loyal to that model, I have to think my annual income would only be 33% of what it actually is today. These are not just random estimates, I do have hard data (Years of statements from many sources) to back up my claims.

    Even if offered a $15,000 work for hire advance to write 15 exclusive tracks for a well known PMA catalog, I really am not sure I’d accept that deal. Often times they don’t share sync fees (because they pay up front) and all you get is the back end. I like shared sync licensing revenue better.

    If 2 or 3 of those tracks go on and generate a few 2K to 5K sync fees, and also pick up steam on micro stock sites…over time one can make that 15K anyway. The idea would be to make more. It can and does happen in the non PMA arena. Strange things happen all the time. Surprises come out of nowhere. I like owning and controlling my own intellectual property. Good luck to all, and again…if you are not committed to 1000 or more high quality tracks, you may want to consider a different biz. This is all my opinion based on my experience over 10 years of doing this.

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