Production Music Libraries – Understanding the Different Types
It is great to awake from a good nights sleep knowing that you’ve just earned some money, as you slept! And that is what can happen for composers who have their music placed with production music libraries. I am sure that many readers of the Film and Game Composers website are aware of this means of earning from their music. But for the rest of you, here are the basics. Production music libraries will accept your music and present it on their website for their clients. It can be used for any media, as music for TV and film, games, advertising, and corporate and online media. When a client finds the track they want to use, they download it and pay a license fee. This fee is then split between the composer and the production music library, usually 50/50. These are the basic facts. But as the media industry grows on an ever expanding scale, so do the amount and types of libraries. So, let us go into more detail about the various library types and the licensing systems that they use.
Quality vs. Quantity
Some of the first Production Music Libraries would have focused solely on music for TV and film. These early producers were based in Hollywood and would have used live musicians and orchestras to create music of very high quality. And, of course, these tracks would have been published on vinyl and tape. But things are obviously so different today. The amount of media in existence with todays digital world is huge. And anyone with some kind of musical ear and a computer can create production music and upload to an array production music libraries. But which libraries will accept what quality of tracks?
At the top end of libraries are those that will develop a good working relationship with the very talented composers. The music director of these high end production houses will handpick the best guys who can write in a certain style and genre to a high level. Many composers ask production music libraries what kind of tracks they are looking for. But the library will often respond by asking these composers to write in a style that you are good at – try to specialize and become excellent at writing in a certain style that you like. Once a track is accepted from a composer, then the library will often require various cuts from the composer for advertising purposes, such as 60 seconds and 30 seconds. These high end libraries will supply the biggest TV production companies and composers should earn well from TV placements with them. Such companies are Audio Networks, and the libraries of Warner Chappell. These libraries tend to take on a composer’s music exclusively and then share any royalties earned from that music with the composer. Individual tracks can often earn tens if not hundreds of thousands in revenue.
But in recent years there has been a different type of production music library emerging. This type will license tracks on an individual basis for one off projects such as corporate video, explainer video and smaller advertising campaigns. Such libraries are Revostock and Audio Jungle. Both are part of larger businesses that supply image stock, after FX and graphics. These businesses saw an opportunity to also supply music as an additional product. It seems to be so much easier to get music accepted to these libraries. Once the track is of reasonable quality it will be accepted. However, the payments are also small. Some of these sites will license tracks for $10-20. If you have placed your tracks exclusively with them, they will pay you 40-60% of the sale price. But if you have the track with other libraries, you might only earn 20-30%. So, you need to have a lot of tracks that are constantly selling in order to make any kind of money here.
Production Music Libraries in the UK verses the US
One distinct difference in production music libraries on either side of the pond is the licensing system. In the US libraries tend to decide on their own pricing and licensing systems. But in the UK there are a lot of libraries that use the PRS licensing system. These are set prices for sync fees. All possible licensing scenarios seem to be covered, from using music for a simple radio commercial to licensing music for an ad worldwide on all media. There are also options to use as music as required for use in a TV show for a set fee. Again from a composer’s point of view, these libraries are at the top end of quality with the music that they provide. Having these libraries represent you music can be quite profitable, mainly because of the broadcast royalties. To my knowledge not many broadcasters in the US pay royalties for each play of music. But in the UK and Ireland, each individual play is counted, more so on TV channels and on the larger radio stations. And though each payment is small, these can add up to a nice sum when royalties are paid to composers each quarter or half year.
To Sum Up…
So these are a few of the basics on what kind of music libraries are out there an what they can do for you and your music. Some will only pay a flat fee, where others will pay out better in the long run with broadcast royalties. There are plenty more similar articles on websites like http://musiclibraryreport.com/ which will also help. Whatever you do in trying to make money from your music through production music libraries, remember that you need good quality music submitted often. If might takes some time to see a steady flow of income arriving, but be persistent and good luck!
Alan Killian is the director of www.muziko.com which is an production music library supplying the UK with stock music tracks fro TV and film, and, advertising and online media.