Music libraries are one of the BEST ways to license your music. And here’s the cool part: you don’t need any connections or experience licensing your music to get started! Any genre can get licensed in music libraries and they work with musicians from any level.
So today, I’m going to take you through the steps to get your music in music libraries and making money. We’re going to cover choosing the right libraries for you, how much money you could make licensing your music through music libraries, and tips for submitting your music.
Before you even think about submitting your music, make sure your tracks are prepared and ready for licensing. There’s nothing worse than missing out on a licensing opportunity last minute because you didn’t have your metadata set up or your song registered with your PRO.
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Step 1: Research Music Libraries
There are many other opportunities in the music licensing world but they require more time, organizational skills and energy.
For now, let’s focus on production music libraries.
They have their flaws but are great to start learning how to licensing your music, understanding how much admin work is needed in the background (it’s not all music-making heaven if you want to get paid!) and figuring out what works for you and what doesn’t.
What Are Music Libraries?
They are platforms that curate music and make it available to license.
Their role is not to promote your music to venues or potential fans. They don’t really focus on that, it’s not their business.
The focus of music libraries is to make your tracks available for licensing to potential customers like ad agencies, YouTubers, videographers, indie filmmakers, music supervisors on TV shows (a LOT of reality TV shows out there! :p ), etc.
Here’s an example so you can see how libraries are being used:
An indie filmmaker is looking for a really cool tune for her new western. She can’t really afford to hire someone like Ennio Morricone so she checks out if her favorite music library has anything in a similar vein.
She’s happy because she finds a really nice, low key tune that will fit her project perfectly.
She giddily adds that tune to her cart pays her license and gets a link to download the audio files.
When someone licenses a song, they are paying for the right to use that song in their project.
How Do YOU Get Paid?
- Sync Fees – A “synchronization fee” is paid to the music library upfront. Depending on the terms of the license agreement you signed with the library, you’ll get a percentage of that sync fee (the standard is a 50/50 split, some libraries give you 60% or 70% like Audiosparx).
- Performance Royalties – If the video that used your music is played on TV (whether it’s terrestrial, cable or online), you receive performance royalties calculated based on the number of plays. That’s where your PRO comes in. They’re in charge of collecting the royalties for you.
- Ad revenue – If your music is used in a YouTube video, you could receive a share of the ad revenue. However, this side of the business gets tricky because you need your music to be part of the YouTube ContentID program. That can create a whole host of problems for music libraries you work with. If you’re just starting out, don’t worry about this type of revenue just yet.
How Much Can You Expect to Make Licensing Music?
These are the figures from the Songtradr pricing tool:
If you’re a little geek who likes playing with figures like me, you can go ahead and register to Songtradr for free and have some fun with their pricing tool!
As you can see, the music licensing fees vary a lot depending on the project the tune will be used in.
A big-budget film wants to use your song. They had loads of money to pay the cast, film on location and put together a huge promotional tour. It’s only fair that those who contribute to the soundtrack get their share of the pie.
A teacher would love to use your song in a video she made to tell her classroom about the importance of being polite. If you’ve made your song available for free to non-profit projects, she won’t have to pay a dime. However, if she decides to upload her video on Youtube and starts making money from advertising, you should earn your share of performance royalties.
When you’re just starting out, you should experiment and reach out to as many varied music licensing opportunities as possible.
In time, you’ll learn what you enjoy working on and what is a good fit for you.
For example, I tried to make happy commercial music for a while because advertising pays well. After a while, I realized it didn’t make much sense for me to focus on this because a) I didn’t enjoy it and b) it’s not my style, others are much better at it and I’m much better writing epic orchestral tunes.
How Do You Know Which Music Libraries Are The Right Fit?
Well, you don’t right from the get-go.
It’s important that you research the music libraries you’re thinking of submitting to.
Because different libraries offer different things:
- Opportunities (TV, video games, wedding videos)
- Licensing deals (exclusive, non-exclusive)
- Genres of music (happy pop, trailer music, children’s music)
Here are a few examples that are all different that will hopefully give you a better idea of what I’m talking about 😀
- Audiosparx.com(a fairly big player that will give you a good idea of all the admin that comes with licensing, i.e. writing a description for your song, finding the right keywords to increase its chance of appearing in the search results, etc.)
- Jinglepunks.com(big player, lucrative but selective)
- Premiumbeat.com(“race to the bottom” type of library in the sense that they really sell their catalog for cheap… they’re popular BUT they want exclusivity for your songs)
- Railroadtrax.com(small boutique library, competent & super friendly; standard 50/50 non-exclusive deal)
How Do You Research Music Libraries?
Take a couple of hours to identify 6-8 production music libraries, visit their website and do your research.
- Analyze the music they already have. Is your music is an obvious fit? Is there’s a gap in their catalog you might be able to fill?
- Find out how to submit music to them (you’ll usually find the information on the FAQ or contact pages).
- Find out if they sign tracks on exclusive or non-exclusive music licensing deals. If it’s obvious from their website that they’ll want the exclusivity of the songs they accept, I would skip it. Unless you’re already experienced in music licensing and know the risks and rewards of exclusive deals.
While you’re doing your research, there are a couple of things I want you to do:
- Write down on a piece of paper the name of the music libraries that you want to send your music to; and
- Create a “Music libraries” folder in your browser’s favorites and add the submissions/FAQ page of every library you’ve selected.
If you’re just starting out with music licensing, I suggest you stick with non-exclusive deals.
When you sign a song to an exclusive deal, the library you sign the deal with is the only one authorized to license that song. That means if they forget about you or don’t care (which can definitely happen!), you won’t be making any licensing money from that song.
There may come a time when you’re more familiar with the licensing ecosystem when you might want to research and test out exclusive deals but for now, I highly recommend forgetting about them.
Step 2: Submit, Submit, Submit
There’s not much to explain here.
Just PLEASE make sure you follow the submission guidelines detailed on each music library’s website. They took the time to write them, you should take the time to read and follow them.
That means if they ask for a minimum of 4 tracks and you only have 3, wait until you have another tune to offer. If they ask for streaming links of individual tracks, don’t send them attachments or links to a playlist.
I know, I know, that’s just common sense. And yet, scores of musicians don’t put in the time or effort to actually follow the simple guidelines of music libraries. Don’t be that person.
Try to keep these few things in mind:
- Don’t let the production quality of your tracks stop you (within reason of course: don’t go sending obviously flawed mixes). What I mean is don’t procrastinate with the excuse of being a perfectionist 😉 If you’re not sure, send them anyway.
- Don’t worry if you don’t have a professional-looking email address. A Gmail address has never stopped anyone from doing business!
- NO, your music doesn’t need to be on Spotify, Pandora, etc. to be considered for music licensing opportunities.
Basically, stop making excuses and working under silly assumptions like you need a website, a strong social media presence, an album, a big catalog, an agent, a professional mastering engineer, etc.
You don’t need ANY of those things to get your music licensed. They might help but you don’t need them.
Focus on the music and you’ll be fine. You’ll build those other things up over time.
Conclusion: How to License Your Music with Music Libraries
This super simple roadmap will get you started in no time.
You can easily do it by committing to work on it for 1 hour every day over 7 days.
If you want more to learn how to license your music with more comprehensive licensing guidance, check out our online training program called Get Your Music Licensed.
The class is part of the online music business training offered at New Artist Model.
If you are interested in promoting your music, check out the Music Business Accelerator program (MBA).
Joyce Kettering is a songwriter, composer, music licensing expert, and teacher of the Get Your Music Licensed! program. The music licensing methods she teaches has allowed her to quit her day job at a Fortune 500 company and be successful on licensing alone.