My first year, the numbers game and the long game…

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    Del Smyth

    Hey guys just thought I’d share my first year results! Thanks to this website my career has kinda gone on an upward trajectory.

    I sent put my first tracks up on Pond 5 exactly a year ago today and I can now tell you that this year brought in $97. OK, not massive but promising yeah?  Had some notable uses too such as ‘Oh So Cosmo’ on Canadian TV and ‘Reforma Deficitaria’ which was on in Spain.

    That’s a big deal and kinda says to me that library is going to be very lucrative but sure, it’s a long game.

    But that’s only with 100 tracks, obviously the more I upload the more that will multiply. As Michael has said many times, it’s a numbers game. By 5 years time I hope to have 1000 on there. That would bring in at least, pro rata, almost $1000 per year. Nice extra sideline yeah? But not only that, I also aim to start getting more and more on other sites. If you grow it exponentially like that you can see why some guys are making heavy $$$ in this business. 1000 tracks with say the world’s top libraries (pond5, yooka,, auditive network, crucial and maybe JP) well the numbers multiply exponentially. In 10 years who knows, 10, ooo tracks? with 10 libraries?? Crazy figures I know but in theory dooable if you collaborate with lots of guys. We have a local studio in the city called Chaps Gym and there are several composers who write from there. If we all collectively pit our wits together then you see how these big numbers are doable?

    Also, if you do drones and basic beds you can do alot in a very quick time. I did 5 in one day last month. TV companies love these as they don’t interfere with the v/o. Sometimes you don’t want too much happening underneath the visuals. Very easy, very quick but potentially very useful with good earning potential.

    It’s an exciting time in library and the future looks bright for us.

    Just thought I’d share my thoughts with you guys. Keep up the good work!



    Emlyn Addison

    My modest beginnings were on iStockaudio (a total ripoff, so avoid it) and generated dribs and drabs of income. But my work naturally got better as I did it more, and I found places like Pond5, Productiontrax and Revostock, which started generating a lot more sales.

    Since then I’ve joined Audiosparx, ScoreKeepers and Audiomine, and registered with a PRO. I plan to try the exclusive/non-exclusive thing that I’ve seen recommended here; submitting tracks exclusively is a tough pill to swallow, but the payoff is good if you have a different sound.

    Yes, it is a long game but so far I’ve enjoyed the rather unique compositional challenge.


    Maybe this is going to sound bad… but pond5, musicloops, revostock etc are definitely, definitely not top libraries. Extreme, Universal and Audio Network are examples of top libraries. There are people there with 100 tracks who make $200,000 a year in royalties. It’s tough to get into, and you’ve got to make something really good but if you can do it, that’s the place to go. Just my 2 cents..

    Del Smyth

    Hey anon I take what your saying but I havent heard of any of them apart from Auditive Network and I had planned to send them a demo soon anyway!

    Not sure what others would say to you saying the libraries I mentioned aren’t top libraries!


    The Voice Of REASON (and record)

    Hey Del,

    The libraries you mentioned aren’t top libraries. This is not to take anything away from your success so far. Top libraries pay around $1000 per track for each track they accept into their system, plus you get your writers performance income.

    The Dude

    I tend to agree with Anon. We all have to start somewhere, and nowadays, the RF model is a place to make some money if you have enough tracks (and certainly an option for diversification in the market). But we need to be truthful with ourselves about the level we are at. It seems to me that the RF libraries, and places like Pump (who I have had music with) and JP, get the lion’s share of praise ’round these parts. When MLR began, there were quite a few posters that had experience with DeWolfe, Killer, Extreme, etc… Those are the exclusive companies that pay upfront, get higher-paying placements, and are harder to break into. Not trying to be insulting, just trying to point out that there are different levels of libraries in terms of quality. I think sometimes we all need a reality check.

    FWIW Del, Auditive Network and Audio Network are different companies. Not familiar with Audititve, but Audio Network is an exclusive library out of the UK that has some very high quality instrumental and vocal music. Look into the companies that Anon listed. They are something to shoot for.


    I also don’t want to sound mean, but seriously, you do not have a clue. Pond5 is not a top library and to think otherwise is nothing other than naive. To be fair, not having heard of top libraries is not that surprising when you’re starting out, and we all have to work our way up – I was also unaware when I started.

    For example, Extreme has artists like Hans Zimmer, Snoop Dogg and Timbaland in its roster, among many more big names. KPM and DeWolfe are also top tier libraries.

    These libraries pay serious money UP FRONT for tracks, and they get placements that Pond5 and JP can only dream of. These libraries are often owned by Sony, EMI or Universal. Pond5 is simply not in the same league.

    My claim before was based on personal experience – you can make well over $100,000 a year with only 100 tracks in these libraries.


    We all have to start somewhere Anon. I little bit less negativity and a bit more encouragement might be a bit more helpful ie. some tips on how to get in to these ‘serious companies’!

    The Dude

    Why is that negativity? Del chose not to believe Anon’s first post because he had never heard of those libraries, rather than doing research on them. Why should anyone help, when their help goes unappreciated? The simple answer is to do research, find out about the top tier libraries, improve your music, submit it to those libraries. Maybe I’m being “negative”, I think it’s just being realistic. Why does everyone need to be coddled?



    I agree with mylesthebaker. We all had to start somewhere. I started a little over 2 1/2 years ago ( so I am a newbie) with I knew nothing about RF music, libraries or any of this. I have been seriously writing instrumental productions tracks for almost 4 years and have well over 350 full-length  tracks in my catalog. And I am still learning.

    I now have tracks in about 16 libraries. I have had most of my success through royalty-free sites. Pond 5, AudioSparx, Stock Music Site, ProductionTrax, Tunefruit, Revostock, Musicloops, and others. Have not had any back-end payments as of yet , or “major” placements (that I know of)  I’m just glad to take any money that comes my way from this. I have done pretty well, and continue to write all of the time. It is a numbers game for sure. The more tracks you have out there, in more libraries, the better chance you have of making sales.Anytime I make a sale,even it is $15.00, I feel great about it.

    One other very important thing that I have learned from people with a lot more success than me is to make sure your tracks on RF sites are tagged correctly. That can make you tracks stand out in a search among the thousands of tracks you are competing with.

    Lastly, this site is a great resource. It has helped me a lot, along with mentoring with people who have had success in this crazy business!

    Good luck to you, and keep writing, and listening.


    OK guys..time out. 

    There are several levels of “libraries” in this industry.  That is not a bad thing. They serve different markets and different clientele.

    Anon is correct…to a degree.  If you are ranking ALL libraries, then libraries like Extreme, Killer, KPM are the cream of the crop.  But, lumping ALL libraries together is not how this business works.  Top tier libraries are proactive in representing their catalog (because they own it). Royalty free libraries provide a place for YOU to sell your music.

    Everybody’s favorite word is placement. By that, most writers mean that their music get’s placed in a television show. Top tier libraries have sales reps that actually work to place tracks. They do pay composers upfront, as much as $1,000 per track.  Sounds great…right? It’s certainly a viable way to make a lot of money for a small percentage of composers. And, yes, you are competing with the likes of Hans Zimmer, etc.  Those libraries are hard to get into because that pay of front AND have top  talent to choose from.

    There are tons of smaller exclusive libraries that pay anywhere from $150 to $400 per cue, up front. I have a lot a music in libraries at this level, with mixed success on the backend. At that price point, without significant backend, it’s worth it, in my opinion, to consider putting your tracks into royalty free (RF) libraries.

    WHY….there are hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of customers who buy music for things other than feature films and TV shows…like documentary films, corporate productions, corporate meetings, local advertising, youtube videos, etc. The vast majority of non-broadcast producers are not going to use libraries, like Extreme, because they are too expensive, AND they may not have the kind of music the non-broadcast users prefer. There is a difference. (but that’s another story)

    SO…if you don’t lump all libraries under one umbrella (because they are apples and oranges) and you correctly consider the royalty free world as an entity unto itself, then libraries, like AudioSparx, MusicLoops, Shockwave, and Pond5 are at the top of their level.

    In summary: The libraries, mentioned by Anon, are indeed top tier, but they are a completely different business model than the royalty free libraries that Del mentioned. The RF libraries that I mentioned (and others) are great RF libraries. But you shouldn’t put music into them with the same goals or expectations that you have for top exclusive libraries, like Extreme (or even Jingle Punks and Crucial etc., which are still a different business model). High end theatrical advertising (trailer) producers are not shopping RF libraries for the soundtrack track to their next blockbuster promo.

    As far as income goes, although it is possible to make $100,000 per year from top tier libraries, that will only happen to a very few fortunate composers, because only a relative few composers “get in.” And not everyone in one of those libraries makes that much money.

    That said, if you’ve read MLR for a few years, you know that last year Erwin (50 styles) made about 20K with around 100 tracks from AudioSparx alone.  “Dan” stated in one of Art’s composer interviews that he was making 100K from royalty free libraries. And, based upon conversations that I’ve had with some RF library owners, it is possible to make a fair amount of money, if you have a lot of tracks (1,000+)

    You’re all correct, to a degree, but the library business is not a uniform, monolithic entity. Don’t fight over apples and oranges.









    Great post Michael. You are a man of knowledge and experience. It would be good to know some of the smaller companies that pay a lesser upfront fees.

    Listening to Erwins (50Styles) tracks you can see why his music is so successful.



    Hi MichaelL and thank you for your post. As always, I have learned a great deal from your experience and perspective. I am persevering in my little corner of the musical world. Glad to be back here and always find interesting comments and hopeful leads!




    Thanks Michael…although I’ve learned a lot in the past 5 years…everytime I read one of your posts things get clearer and clearer – Jay


    Mark Lewis

    As usual, very well put Michael L.

    And thanks to everyone, it’s very nice to be considered one of the top RF libraries by a group of great composers (or is it top-lower-tier libraries?) .

    Just wanted to point out that our top composers are currently earning just under $20,000 a year from the site alone. That does not include earnings from our network of sites and partnerships,, our Spanish site at and our partnerships in Germany, Poland and the UK as well as with other music distribution companies.

    I’m only posting this to say that the plan that Del Synth proposed in his original post is a very good one and will no doubt lead him and his group of composers to a very steady income in the long term.
    Go for it.

    – Mark Lewis

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