What Should I charge?

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This topic contains 4 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Vlad 4 years, 2 months ago.

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  • #22254 Reply


    I was recently contacted through Pond5 by a small production company who requested a 90 second version of one of my tracks for a web video. I happily obliged and charged them forty dollars (it took me twenty minutes to run off the edit so figured that was a decent hourly rate).

    Since then we have exchanged emails about doing more bespoke work as some of their clients may be attracted by the idea of a unique and exclusive piece to accompany their brand. I very much like the idea of forming my own relationships with companies like this one (and they seem really nice too), and not having to split the sale money with a third party, but the fact is without a library or publisher to set a price for me I’m a little lost!

    I don’t want to scare them off with a big price, (it will be very easy for them to just go back to Pond5 and pay $16 after all) but I need to make it worth my while and I don’t want to appear ‘cheap’. So what do I charge them for an original 90 sec piece of music? (The one they purchased is a ‘happy piano and strings’ type composition).

    Bearing in mind there will be no back end royalties, and no submitting the track to anyone else, what I get paid by them is what I get paid.
    Also they have been in touch asking for the stems of the track now, should I ask for more money?

    And I will probably need some form of contract too. Anyone know where I can get a template?

    Thanks in advance!

    #22256 Reply


    You say you won’t be able to submit the track to anyone else, not just you won’t get backend from this?

    a) They want bespoke composition
    b) They want total exclusivity in perpetuity, probably in all territories
    c) There is no backend ever

    Normally I would charge about $10,000 to $15,000 per track in these circumstances. If this was for a big advertisement, that would be LOW! And that is because I know that if I just submit the same track to libraries I will over my lifetime, on average, make at least that much.

    However, if you think you can churn out a suitable track for them in not much time then lowering the rate would make sense too.

    One thing that could make this worth your while: non-exclusivity. If they don’t want to pay $10k, fine. Then don’t agree to exclusivity. Grant them a non-exclusive license to use the track and then put the same track in libraries. In that case, charging like $500 seems much more reasonable to me.

    As for contracts – yes, you definitely need something otherwise you’ll find you get emails with “oh can you send me this stem but twice as long and without that swooshing sound by the end of today???” over and over without being able to charge for your time without seeming like you’re being difficult. Don’t sell yourself short!

    MASSIVE DISCLAIMER: I don’t know where you live, what your situation is etc so my numbers are just mine.. When I started out I did custom work for $60 per track! But I did retain all rights and put those tracks eventually into library. They went on to make many multiples more down the line so I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to retain rights to your music when licensing to a one off company with no backend or further licensing.

    Good luck and let us know how you get on!

    #22457 Reply


    Tbone said pretty much exactly what I would have advised : )

    #22458 Reply

    Mark Lewis

    And I will probably need some form of contract too. Anyone know where I can get a template?

    Here is a work for hire contract template

    Also they have been in touch asking for the stems of the track now, should I ask for more money?

    I would ask for as much as you charged for doing an edit for delivering separate stems.

    So what do I charge them for an original 90 sec piece of music?

    When clients ask me if a composer can create custom music for them I give pretty much the same basic quotes as what Tbone outlined in his post.
    All depending on complexity and duration of course…
    $500 for non-exclusive rights
    $5000 minimum for exclusive rights

    But I have heard of deals where composers crank out exclusive rights tracks at $1000 a pop.

    Your client would definitely need to realize that you what they are asking for is no longer in a P5 type price range. Most clients don’t realize the huge price difference between royalty free music that is licensed thousands of times and exclusive rights to bespoke music.

    Good luck and congratulations on making direct connections with your clients.

    #22460 Reply


    I have done a bunch of custom tracks for $2k each, and run into a ton of painful scenarios along the way. Your price should reflect all work put in and all potential work that needs to be done when they get picky, and trust me that they will get picky.

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