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Get Paid For Your Music: The Ultimate Guide

Posted by William Rankin on


The good people over at Music Tech mag have written a great article on making money from music, we've rounded up what we thought were the most important points. Full article here.

Here's a secret: You’re more likely to make a decent earning from sync music than you ever will with chart fame. Another secret: it’s easier than you might think to get into. Music Tech's Rob Boffard has all the advice you’ll need…

In general terms, a music library refers to the use of music in TV and film, in video games, on the radio, in online videos. It remains one of the most underused weapons in any producer’s arsenal – and a good way to make additional income from your productions. A single hit can make a musician’s name and anyone can make library music, so although there are a few things to bear in mind, you’re not going to be using any production techniques that differ from what you’re doing already: chances are that you’ve already made some music that could work in a library, and which would also be quite comfortable sitting under the credits of a TV series.


Of course, there’s also bad news... As always, you’ll face immense competition, and (like any producer) you’ll often have to fight to get paid! More importantly, you have to get used to the fact that once your music is being used, it’s no longer your own. You’re not releasing a track under your own name; it’s going out under the name of a production company.

 In Process

First step is to find a home for your demo. In most cases, that means going to a music library and if it works out they will offer to put you on their roster. If someone hears your track and likes it, they contact the music library and ask to license the track. Depending on what the track is being used for, you could end up being paid a few quid – for the use of a track in a small radio ad, for example – or a hell of a lot of money if a company like Electronic Arts wants it for the next Dead Space 

In addition, you’re also paid by the MCPS/PRS. They’re the organisations that collect money when music is used, and if they’re doing their job, you’ll get paid there as well.

It’s a Demo

The music libraries act as agents: they form the middlemen between you and the people who’ll use your music. They have the industry contacts, know-how and sales expertise you might not have. You have the musical skills they need.

To make your demo stand out from the crowd, spend time looking for the right library for you... research their clients and asses whether they would suit your musical style. Then showcase a wide variety of your styles (aim for 9-10 tracks) showing a range of genres and tempos and keep them short.

 Gettin’ the Money

Licensing laws and procedures vary from country to country. While every country will have an organisation dedicated to helping you get paid.

If you're in the UK, definitely consider signing up with the PRS part of the programme. PRS collects royalties for performance every time a track of yours is played; the amount varies depending on when and where this happens. They pay out quarterly, and you have to have a minimum of £30 in royalties before you can get paid.

The MCPS deal with what happens when your track is reproduced. They have a different set of rates and payout schemes from PRS and they also collect the mechanical fee – the fee paid to license the track – and distribute it to the publisher and writer (the library and you). This is then split, depending on what you’ve agreed with your particular library. 

Not all libraries are signed up to MCPS: some are PRS-only. It’s worth checking very carefully what arrangements your library has before signing over your music to it. 

 Taking Ownership

It’s worth stressing a point we made earlier: once you sell a piece of music, it’s no longer yours.

Samples

Making library music demands not only a high level of quality, but speed as well. You need to be able to create a variety of tracks in a very short space of time. This is where we can help – once you’ve bought sounds from us, they’re completely free for you to use from there on.

 

With thanks to Music Tech, for more tips, click here.