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

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  • #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!

    #7401 Reply
    Del Smyth

    Hey guys, I see there’s another library – uk based – called audio network! I think they are small and my friend tells me they only recently started. Well I for one have never heard of them nor has any one my friends. So isn’t it a bit bad that they have  tried to copy the name of Auditive Network? How cheeky is that!!!

    This is a crazy business!

    #7412 Reply

    I only have 11 tracks online and have so far made $390 since February. This money I made from a few libraries like pond5, revostock and productiontrax.

    I have not done much since June so you can definitely make some money from the RF libraries. With 100 tracks and no more promotion done on my part, not adding music to new libraries, no other positive factors included (like returning customers) a 100 tracks would make around $4700 a year.

    I don’t think the RF libraries should be underestimated…

    I’m also new to the RF libraries (started January 2012) and a lot of my time have therefore been spent on research, but now I’m back into composing music and think the future is looking quite bright. Here a few of my tips:

    – Compose music that producers can actually use in their productions like corporate music, commercial, trailer etc.
    – Make sure you optimize your track titles, tags and descriptions
    – Make every track in 30 sec, 60 sec and a full version
    – Promote your music using YouTube, Twitter, Soundcloud, Facebook, blogs etc.
    – Quality over quantity
    – You can find more tips and strategies on my blog

    #7415 Reply
    56 Strat

    ” I don’t think the RF libraries should be underestimated ” …… I agree with you EagleCinematics in more ways than one. One doesn’t have to drive a Rolls Royce or walk on gold bricks to be somebody or to be successful. There are many successful world class brilliant composers involved with the RF model, and some are right here on MLR  and there are others on here that are better than what they give themselves credit for. MichaelL sums it up quite well. I’m with a few different tier libraries but I really do like the RF model as it’s now giving me somewhat of a steady income, I make something every month  and I still have total control of everything . I’m also with of the RF libraries that are mentioned on this thread.

    #7418 Reply

    I’m with a few different tier libraries but I really do like the RF model as it’s now giving me somewhat of a steady income, I make something every month  and I still have total control of everything .

    After more than 30 years in this business, I have come to value control of my catalog above all.

    One doesn’t have to drive a Rolls Royce or walk on gold bricks to be somebody or to be successful.

    Wanting or needing those things is just ego….external validation. Get past that, and you’ve got it all. Get hung up in that, and you will never have enough.

    #7420 Reply

    You’re 100% correct MichealL and I always relay that philosophy  to my students.

    #7436 Reply

    Hi Del,



    Audio Network have been around for years and are well established in the UK.

    #7708 Reply

    I think it’s nice that people want to encourage each other and help. But, there should be a degree of real world honesty added in there. If you are looking for real money and a good living, RF is not going to do it for a long term plan unless you are a seriously top-notch composer with huge amounts of motivation and a huge catalog. And at that point, I think most people will say goodbye to RF. I’m only a part-timer and, while I made in the low 5 figures least year through RF with only a handful of songs that sell, I doubt that would have increased but so much doing this full time. Out of the 40 or so full songs I have in RF, I’d say only 5 to 8 consistently bring in performance royalties. The rest does very little or nothing, earning a few bucks here and there from licensing fee sharing or cable TV placement in non-syndicated shows.

    I’m not just looking at today’s market to have developed this dismal outlook regarding RF. I’m looking down the road and checking out how many composers and artists are piling into these libraries. Not only is this making it a “longer” game due to competition for visibility,  it could very well hurt the RF industry by pushing performance royalty generating clients away and back towards the major libraries due to the appearance of a lack of quality in RF. Personally, I would be very happy to see RF libraries do more screening on submissions and be much pickier than they tend to be. But I think the numbers game works for them in terms of collecting tons and tons of small licensing fees from small media. So the more material in their catalog, the better.

    Think about five or so years from now with a steady increase in new artists/composers. You have to look not only at the full-time “library composers”. You also have a rapidly growing number of independent bands and solo artists/songwriters getting into it. In fact,  I recruited indie bands and artists for a now defunct royalty free library as far back as eleven years ago. It’s common knowledge to indie artists these days that they can submit music to libraries for use in media.  Electronic dance/DJ artist Deadmau5 wrote library music for Killersound before he was known. They’re turning away from the record label idea and branching out into multiple revenue streams on their own. And from what I hear out there, many of those artists are much better at their genre than the average multi-genre instrumentalist is at any one of his many genres. The only composer types safe in RF could be those writing underscore packages and themes, certain niche genres, the more cinematic trailer/promo stuff and doing sound design. I suspect popular genres (pop, rock, hip-hop, the various forms of electronica, dance, etc) will be mainly indie bands and those who spend their time on their best genre, not “I can do it all” composers.

    So, in light of the above, I think besides being a numbers game, there are the following issues:

    1 – Visibility: Your music needs to be found amongst an ever growing sea of music by tons of competing artists who may not even hold a candle to what you produce. That goes beyond submitting to a thousand libraries and having stellar material. It means marketing your material well within each library when the library makes you do your own search engine optimization (key words, tags, descriptions, etc).

    2 – Developing what you do best: I used to think flexibility was king in library writing. But I think that is changing as more and more I hear the higher level companies looking for “specialists” in genres. This applies mostly to the popular music area at the moment. But, as time goes on, that’s going to hit all areas due to a the availability of growing volumes and volumes of music from talented musicians. In other words, if you’re so-so at rock music, but fantastic at dance music, stop writing rock in favor of dance. This sort of development planning is something I want to start doing myself.

    3 – Library screening: Avoid RF situations where the library earns licensing fees from your music and you end up without a writer’s royalty. This is especially true if you are not getting a share of the licensing fee or the share is microscopic. I think that’s for newbies who want some experience. Look at where a library’s music gets used. If hardly anything gets placed in TV, film, or other decent royalty generating media, don’t put money in their pocket instead of yours. I believe there are several libraries that are cramming themselves with no better than mediocre material they plan to market to mainly small media markets that will earn them licensing fees, but don’t generate performance royalties. There is no intention or little effort to direct market to bigger media, or they cannot compete with higher quality libraries, and they rely heavily on their websites to attract customers. It’s up to the musician personally, but I prefer not to offer my music to a company that has this type of business model. I think you’re being ripped off.

    4 – Offline marketing: As mentioned above, if a library relies mostly on their website, don’t count on making money, especially if they aren’t using partner sites or other methods of multiple exposure. The more traditional libraries have staff that do direct marketing and assist clients in music selection. They are selective in their roster and know the material. This is where you will make money and being placed with a handful of those, possibly even one or two, will get you more than 5 handfuls of the website only RF libraries. You can also submit to music editors and supervisors who will use the material in their productions. You’re pretty much guaranteed placement and royalties if they work in the larger media areas.

    5 – Self-marketing and credits: This is a no-brainier. If you appear to be successful, your chances are better. You will not get that from RF although you could become an RF superstar as a big fish in a pond with a million tiny fish. The thing is that you make money in the ocean, not the pond.

    Now, of course, you can submit to a thousand RF libraries and still push for getting in with the big boy libraries. And I do believe there is a high/low tier situation. They aren’t closed doors, you just have to be good at what you do and know how to approach them. So far, I haven’t been successful in that, but it is my goal. At the moment, I’m working more with those libraries with some form of direct marketing and a music editor/composer who uses my material to support his work. I’m slowly pulling away from RF and using the time to work on improving writing and production skills instead of churning out tons of average music anyone can write and many can write better. I’m also wanting to get more into the sound design area, trailer/promo, and themed packages due to what I mentioned above. I’ve been a one-man library in the past. I used to write tons of music loops, 30 second themes, etc and promote them everywhere. I later started focusing a bit and now only put out the better material. But,  I think it’s time to get away from the multiple genres and focus even more as I get closer and closer to retiring from my “day job” and look forward to having the time for serious library work and custom composition. I’ve got at least 12 more years of “day job” working, but you can never start preparing too soon.


    #7709 Reply

    Hi folks,

    all weird discussion here. People tend to patronize to easy what`s good or not good to do for others.  Let everyone make their own experiences. The lib bizz is constantly changing.

    I follow with interest all the very nice and informative comments here and in the same time I get borred of so many comments.

    There are top selling guys in the RF bizz and top selling people in the excl./non-excl. Pro bizz. What`s the problem about it ?

    Quality, that means good songs, will always make their way….

    Michael L. is so right; control of your own catalog is a nice value.

    I make good money with excl. libraries and my music is running in TV and I also make nice 4figures money with my RF catalog. What`s the problem with it ? Is that bad ? Am I evil for doing both ways ? No.

    I am a musician and I love to write and produce music. Good and honest work will be honored after a while at least in my experience….

    Try out everything folks…….




    #7711 Reply

    Good on ya Wildman, well put.
    I see lots of comments here and on music licensing forums on linkedin where people have an all or nothing point of view based on their own limited experiences.
    Sort of like Plato’s prisoners in a cave analogy…


    #7713 Reply

    @Mark…brilliant. Great analogy.


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