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

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  • #7347 Reply

    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.








    #7361 Reply

    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.


    #7365 Reply

    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!



    #7367 Reply

    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


    #7369 Reply
    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

    #7371 Reply


    I agree, very well put..

    #7376 Reply

    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?)

    @Mark, I wouldn’t even go so far as to call libraries “lower tier,” simply by virtue of being royalty free.  If one’s only yardstick is the amount the library charges for sync fees, or the perceived prestige of its placements, then yes, royalty free libraries would be at the lower end of the food chain. But…if you take the long view, look at the big picture and are pragmatic I would argue that is not the case.




    #7383 Reply

    I wanted to ask, if somebody could name a library which pays  money for exclusive non-p.r.o. material!!

    To put it simple:

    I imagine that I write a guitar rock instrumental. The library makes a complete buyout of that track and pays me 800 dollars for it.  😉
    Does something like that exist?? It was mentioned earlier in this thread, but I’d like to know where to look for it!

    Best regards!


    #7384 Reply

    Hmmm…this was interesting. I have always thought that you have to go for the libraries that will make you significant backend money, to stand a chance to earn something in this business. But if you can`t get in to the major exclusives, like most of us can`t do, than you might as well go for a bunch of good RF `s I suppose.

    Pretty hard to figure out which way to go here. And worst of all, it takes away too much of my time which I would rather spend on making the greatest track ever 😉

    Thanks for the info guys !!

    #7385 Reply

    I think there’s some really good info on here that’s helpful to all. I started out with a similar level of knowledge to Del and obviously learnt more about libraries over time. I think it’s easy to underestimate how big the music library industry is, from small RF libraries to the big hitters (Universal, KPM, etc.).

    Most of my tracks are with RF sites and I do extremely well from them. I think we’d all like to have music with the ‘big hitters’ but it’s increasingly difficult to do so. I use the stability that I get from RF sites as a platform to try new things, approach new libraries and try to get my music in what I hope is the best place. The good thing is, it’s possible to make money from various avenues and if you can get one, or more of them to work for you, great!

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