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Danny – if your employer will accommodate you, and if you can deal with the financial sacrifice of going part time for a couple of years, I say do it for 2 years and put EVERYTHING into writing and producing music on your spare 3-4 days for the entire period. Go totally crazy on building your catalog and contacts.
Then, at the end of 2 years. Re-access. One of 3 things will become fairly obvious. If job security and a 6 figure income is a necessity and/or your goal, I’d guess you will go back to your full time day gig. If writing music part time makes enough of the difference (hopeful, but probably in all reality doubtful) to give you enough hope – then stay on part time until you can pull the plug on the day job. if you end up making 100k+ in those 2 years, see a bright horizon, and can deal with the ups and downs of the industry and having an income that moves all over the place – then pull the plug on the day gig!!!
The reality is – quite frankly from my point of view – that getting to a full time salary (especially 6 figures) takes a long term (deacade+) level of commitment that few have the resources or life situation to accommodate. Especially in 2021.
Best of luck.
I’ve said it before. There are easier ways to make money and better ways to make music. At some point, even writing music can become a “job,” like any other job, which can suck the life out of your passion for music if you aren’t careful.
An eleven page ASCAP statement from 12 years ago paid me just about the same amount as an eighty one page statement from January 2021.
When asked “why can I have triple the number of placements, same venue’s and have the same payout, BMI essentially just shrugged their shoulders and said “that’s just how it is”. Essentially, no matter what I do, or how many new shows I add – I’ve hit the proverbial glass ceiling. I must say though that I don’t rattle their cage a lot. I suppose if I did I might eek more out of them. BMI is not a helpful or well paying organization IMO.
Given all the negative changes in our business over recent time, I felt like I was working for pennies, and that is not where I want to be.
I hear ya. For me, it’s never been about huge payouts on individual placements. Sure, they come in from time to time, but it’s been large numbers of continually playing shows that make the backbone of my payments. Lots and lots and lots of little trickles make a huge river.
Unfortunately, my actual bottom line payouts have roughly stayed the “same” for a decade – even though adding hundreds of placements. The ultimate payout has gone from 10’s of dollars, to dollars, to quarters, and now, with streaming sometimes down to $0.01. I guess you can’t go lower than that eh? LOL. There ARE more venue’s to be played / streamed at though, but even so, the numbers per placement or per title are down significantly. (After talking with several publishers and writers, it’s looking like close to a 90% decrease in payout when your show goes to streaming – and that’s a hard pill to swallow.)
So yeah, starting out and seeing pennies is not a great way to get excited about earning a living in production music. I think that perhaps it still can be done, but I wouldn’t want to be the one trying to figure out the new game plan. Plus….when AI hits, I think all bets are off. We’re going to see another huge paradigm shift. At that point, once the glut ensues and music users are overwhelmed with the mass of input — the only ones selling custom music will be those who make it with REAL musicians, recorded with microphones and real instruments. That will be the final frontier I think.
But it’s all just my observations and opinion. cheers,
thanks for sharing your story Lawriter. its interesting your strategy is a lot based around getting thousands more tracks into the system. other long term composers have said to me its not the number of tracks its the quality level of the tracks. for example 500 amazing tracks will go alot further than 3000 mediocre tracks.
Who said anything about 3000 mediocre tracks? I consider my production game to be at the top. My writing is skilled and honed to a T. You’ve got to deliver at the top level or you’re not even IN the game.
After many years of tracking what gets used and what doesn’t and “why” and talking with editors and clients – I would disagree with the amazing vs. numbers comment. At least in writing for TV/Film. Commercials and trailers are somewhat different.
There are so many factors that go into a piece of music being chosen, and there are at least a hundred types of styles that get chosen for an incredibly varied set of uses. Having a good number of titles in a wide variety of styles is what gets you placements. There is no substitute for that IMO. It’s a simple numbers game. The “I only need a few incredible songs” is an artist style perspective and this is not an artist game. Yeah, you can do it that way – but you have to be the one in a million guy. There are thousands of the rest of us making it with numbers…. Best,
Some kids with a laptop can belt out 1000 tracks in no time. The tracks would be legal but would lack soul.
That won’t really be the legit composers main problem. AI will do it 1000 times faster than “some kids” will.
Writing is my main job. I have several other methods of income streams though as well. I’m well over $60k annually from my writing, but IMO, it takes pretty much at least $100k + to live in the US with a house, studio and family these days. I’m outside your range of 10 years, but I’d guess that the vast majority of anyone making $60k + is outside that boundary as well.
Music has always been my “day job”, and I’ve done many things over the course of my career – arranger, film/TV composer, music copyist, session musician, ghost writer, producer, recording engineer, music editor, touring musician, etc., etc. and yes – writing for libraries. So my “transition” back to writing (now pretty much writing for my own production company and a handful of others) was not as dramatic as leaving a job as a CPA to take up music. :). That said, serendipitous situations led me to be writing more and more, and producing / playing or composing for others less and less, and eventually the transition was complete. And now, it’s rare for me to do anything musically outside of my own production company.
IMO, 4 years is not nearly enough time to make a living in this biz. I started transitioning into writing for libraries seriously around 2007. And I was late to the game IMO. At this point, I have almost 2500 titles in play, and have placements in probably 500+ films/shows and thousands of actual “episodes”. And even so, streaming and industry change has stopped me short of where I would like to see my income with the titles I have. For reference – I focus mostly on film/TV underscore – not commercials or trailers.
I used to think 1000 titles would get you “there”. Then, as the industry started to change from the “old school” way it had been for years, I rethought things, and changed the number to “2000” songs/titles. Well….. With the deterioration of the industry, I’m beginning to think that maybe it’s 3000? Haha! Not sure, but I think I can make it there by the time I retire. Or maybe I’ll never get to retire. LOL
I have a dozen + publishers, but these days, I find myself writing for outside publishers less and less – trying to retain ownership of as much of my content as possible. I’d guess that 70% of my music based income is directly from sync / back end.
If I had a crystal ball and could have seen where things are going, I would seriously have thought about another industry, but honestly, I’m a musician and I’m not sure what else I could have done…. But at this point in the game, most of the newcomers are going to be relegated to part time, hobbyist, starving musician, frugal living, or depending on their significant other to carry the lions share of fiscal responsibility.
I consider myself extremely lucky, fortunate and blessed. And I’m not sure I could actually pull it off again if I had to start off with the industry the way it is now.
Actually, I seem to have the opposite problem. Kinda. I want to “give back” now that the end of my career is closer than the beginning of it, and try as hard as I can to try to convince some local talented people to join in and learn the biz – earning while they learn – they seem more intent with performing live, geeking out over guitars and pedals, hanging out with friends, etc..
I’m more than happy to teach someone I get along with, who I have seen has the talent to make it, etc., but they all seem to be focused towards either instant success – or what I would consider laziness. And I have no time for those types.
Mine was down significantly (maybe 50-60%) over last quarter, but last quarter was double what a good quarter usually pays out for me. (had good foreign, and one mega placement k-pop thing that played 7 times and paid out low 5 figures.). So in that respect, it didn’t seem too bad. About normal, maybe slightly less.
For whatever it’s worth – Rident is a US based Neighboring Rights collection agency that not only collects in Brazil, but across the world. They have done good by me.