Selling Music Online – The Stock Audio Market

If you like this article, check out:

The Business of Music Licensing – Generating Revenue Through Your Music“.

My beginnings in the “music industry” were when a friend recommended a site to me called Audiojungle. I had just finished college, and wasn’t any good at music technology (ie. recording music), but could compose quite well. So I decided to try and make some tracks and upload them to the site – if they were any way good, someone might buy them and it would give me some reassurance that I was on the right track.

Of course I only expected to maybe sell one or two tracks. In my first month on Audiojungle, I think I uploaded about 3 tracks – all short piano loops. For reasons which I couldn’t understand at the time, my tracks started to sell.

In July I had 9 sales – amounting to a whopping $8.75. I couldn’t believe it – people actually liked my music enough to buy it. When I started to see the sales very very slowly trickle in, I started to think…hmmm this could work out to be quite a nice money maker in my spare time.

So next I joined Revostock. A better payout rather (50/50), and they sell your tracks for more, I thought it looked good. I joined up, and started uploading my tracks. Then my tracks started to sell on there too, and I had another revenue stream coming in. So next I spoke with Mark Lewis (owner of PartnersinRhyme.com) and he liked my music, so let me join up to Musicloops.com and if I did well on there, I could join PartnersinRhyme.com and make a CD collection for the site.


Naturally enough, my music sold well on musicloops.com and after a few weeks, Mark asked me to create a CD of emotional piano tracks to be sold on PartnersinRhyme.com for $100 a pop! I got cracking, and used what limited knowledge I had to make a few piano tracks using Reason. I kept the idea of KISS – Keep it Simple Stupid! I just used piano and strings – I didn’t master the tracks, didn’t use any EQ – nothing – just piano and strings in Reason. I didn’t do any mastering simply because I didn’t know much about it at the time. So far since it went on sale I’ve sold it 5 times and made $250 last month from it. You can view it here

It just goes to show – theres money to be made in the stock audio market if you have some spare time, and have a bit of talent.

There are also plenty of other sites out there to sell your music on. Heres a list of sites which I have come across in my last year of music making – some good, some bad, some pay well, some don’t. Make up your own mind though – each person’s music is individual and will sell better some sites, compared to others, so try them all out!

AudioJungle

Does the site allow uploads? Yes
Are you able to price your own tracks? No
Can you just open an account or do you have to submit a demo to be reviewed and be accepted? Open an account – uploads are reviewed
Are they accepting submission from outside composers? Yes
What is the size of their catalog? 2853 music tracks and 1377 sounds
What is the payout or split? 25/75 non exclusive, 30/70 exclusive (increases are you sell more)
Are there any backend royalties? No
Non-exclusive? Yes

My personal opinion: Only one type of licensing available, which limits your income and allows people to use your music for any sized project. Don’t mail you when a track is sold, which other sites do. Great community, and nice feedback on each track everytime you upload

Revostock

Does the site allow uploads? Yes
Are you able to price your own tracks? No
Can you just open an account or do you have to submit a demo to be reviewed and be accepted? You have to submit a demo and be accepted
Are they accepting submission from outside composers? Yes
What is the size of their catalog? 45,679 Files (music, sounds, video, FX)
What is the payout or split? Payment split is 45/55 for non-exclusive, 60/40 for exclusive.
Are there any backend royalties? No
Non-exclusive? Yes
3 types of licenses, which increase your sales income:

1. Corporate, Non-Profit, Trade Shows, Web*, Not-For-Broadcast Re-Production to 5,000 copies. Project and Student Films.
2. Includes Standard License plus local/cable broadcast up to 300 miles and reproduction from 5,000 to 50,000.
3. Unlimited Reproduction.

My personal opinion: Really easy upload process – upload via ftp, then put description on each track. Have a weekly newsletter which sends out the top tracks of the week to all subscibers, getting your music more views if its on it. Good track pricing – ie. $10- $15 and nice payout out 45% per track. Mail you when a track is sold which is nice to see in your inbox.

Productiontrax

Does the site allow uploads? Yes
Are you able to price your own tracks? Yes
Can you just open an account or do you have to submit a demo to be reviewed and be accepted? “You do not have to send a demo to become a composer, anyone can just sign-up for an account. “
Are they accepting submission from outside composers? Yes
What is the size of their catalog? “50,000 files. We also have Stock Footage and Stock Photography files for sale”
What is the payout or split? 65% of the sales go to the composers, whether a track is exclusive or not.
Are there any backend royalties? No
Non-exclusive? Yes

My Personal opinion: Never sold anything on here ever. I know a few composers who have had some sales on it, for commercial licenses and made a nice amount of money from it, but I myself haven’t had any luck with it. Some parts of the site don’t work and havent worked since I started which puts me off it slightly, but as I said some composers I know have sold a number of tracks on it, so I’m sure its worthwhile to join.

Audiosparx

Is it free to register? Yes
Does the site allow uploads? Yes
Are you able to price your own tracks? Yes
Can you just open an account or do you have to submit a demo to be reviewed and be accepted? Any music uploaded has to be reviewed first
Are they accepting submission from outside composers? Yes
What is the size of their catalog? 275,000+ Sound Effects, Loops, Ringtones and Production Music Tracks
What is the payout or split? 50/50
Are there any backend royalties? “For musicians, we help and guide you in the process end-to-end to help you earn performance royalties for the broadcast production use of your music”
Non-exclusive? Yes

My Personal Opinion: Only ever sold one track on it. I think their library is far to big for anyone to find your music on it, hence why I have had less sales, but try it out yourself and see what you think. Lots of options in your control panel to view such as batch upload, advertising campaigns etc.

eStockmusic

Does the site allow uploads? Yes
Are you able to price your own tracks? No
Can you just open an account or do you have to submit a demo to be reviewed and be accepted? Open account
Are they accepting submission from outside composers? Yes
What is the size of their catalog? Small
What is the payout or split? Payment split is 40/60 for non-exlcusive, 50/50 for exclusive tracks
Are there any backend royalties?
Non-exclusive? Yes

My Personal opinion: Quite a small price to sell your music for, so choose what you sell on here. I don’t have all my music on this site – just one or two tracks to have my name on there.

Musicloops

Does the site allow uploads? Yes
Are you able to price your own tracks? Yes
Can you just open an account or do you have to submit a demo to be reviewed and be accepted? Submit a demo
Are they accepting submission from outside composers? Yes
What is the size of their catalog? Currently 3000 full length tracks, 20,000 including edits and loops.
What is the payout or split? 50/50
Are there any backend royalties? Yes, but we do not require that the customer report the use to performing rights agencies
Non-exclusive? Yes

My Personal opinion: Great site – easy to upload. Mark Lewis the owner is a great guy, easy to get hold of. Payments are always on time – one of my favourite stock music sites!

Partnersinrhyme

Does the site allow uploads? No
Are you able to price your own tracks? No (composers have input on what prices might be though)
Can you just open an account or do you have to submit a demo to be reviewed and be accepted? No
Are they accepting submission from outside composers? Yes via demo online or CD
What is the size of their catalog? 125 Music Collections
What is the payout or split? 50/50
Are there any backend royalties? Yes, but they do not require that the customer report the use to performing rights agencies
Non-exclusive? Yes
Composer also gets a ‘Partners In Rhyme Composer Account’ where he can track all sales from all distribution channels in realtime.

My Personal Opinion: Brilliant site. Sells music collections, so if your music is good enough, and a unique genre, you may be able to sell a collection of your music on here. Well worth having your tracks on. I’ve made the most money out of this site, and its a great site to be on if you get the opportunity.

Youlicense

“YouLicense is an online music licensing marketplace. We have developed a platform which enables artists and those seeking musical content to conduct business directly with one another in a safe and secure environment… YouLicense is non-exclusive and welcomes anyone with musical content to upload music and offer licenses for sale. This allows for a large range of musical content; from ringtones to sheet music to songs and beats; and is combined with a unique search engine to increase the chances of finding the much needed musical content.

Does the site allow uploads? Yes
Are you able to price your own tracks? Yes you get to choose each price for each license
Can you just open an account or do you have to submit a demo to be reviewed and be accepted? You can just open an account and start uploading
Are they accepting submission from outside composers? Yes
What is the size of their catalog? Growing quickly
What is the payout or split? Free Account – Pay 10 cents per track sold and you set the prices
Pro Musician and Business accounts – Pay NOTHING on MP3 sales
Are there any backend royalties? Depends on each project
Non-exclusive? Yes

My personal opinion: I’ve uploaded stuff to their site, but haven’t sold anything yet. They have a fresh approach, and are exactly what a lot of composers I know, are looking for. You get to choose what licenses you can offer on your tracks, and theres a cool opportunites page, with listings of people that are looking for you to submit your tracks to them for projects. Another brilliant thing which they have is the youlicense widget which you can add to your site – you can check out mine here – it lets you sell your music via your own website, without having to embed an mp3 store on your site. Great ideas from this site.

Soundreef

“SoundReef.com is based on the idea that music can enhance images and images are a great way to promote music. SoundReef.com’s approach is unique: it is possible to pay for music licensing not only through monetary compensation, but also by fulfilling promotional activities for the musician. The idea is to find an ideal, “automatic” meeting point between a fair compensation for the musicians and many multimedia productions’ low music budgets.”

Does the site allow uploads? Yes
Are you able to price your own tracks? Yes in that you get to agree on a price per project
Can you just open an account or do you have to submit a demo to be reviewed and be accepted? Currently in private beta, but you can get numerous invitations online if you search
Are they accepting submission from outside composers? Yes
What is the size of their catalog? Only just starting off so most likely small
What is the payout or split? Composer – 75%/ Site – 25%
Are there any backend royalties? Depends on each project
Non-exclusive? Yes

My personal opinion: Cool idea – swapping music for promotion. I’ve never seen it done before, and I think it could work well. I think the site is currently in its early stages (its currently in Beta) – but definitively worth checking out.

Pumpaudio

Does the site allow uploads? Yes
Are you able to price your own tracks? Yes
Can you just open an account or do you have to submit a demo to be reviewed and be accepted?
Are they accepting submission from outside composers? Yes
What is the size of their catalog? 270,000
What is the payout or split? 50% of money earned per track
Are there any backend royalties? Yes
Non-exclusive? Yes

My personal opinion: Large site owned by Ghetty Images. Have some huge clients, and you could have your music being viewed by some big names out there. I know some people who have had great experience and sales from it. I submitted my music to them, and they still haven’t reviewed it – they take a very long time to review your music once you have submitted it, so expect to wait quite a while. However, they seem very worthwhile to join.

Audiomicro

Does the site allow uploads? Yes
Are you able to price your own tracks? No
Can you just open an account or do you have to submit a demo to be reviewed and be accepted? Open an account and start uploading
Are they accepting submission from outside composers? Yes
What is the size of their catalog? Small
What is the payout or split? 50/50
Are there any backend royalties? No
Non-exclusive? Yes

My personal opinion: I’ve had no sales, some people say they are good. They sell your tracks for quite a small amount, but maybe worth having your music on there to have your name out there. Depends what you sell on there – if you have stuff you think is worth selling for the small price they sell it for, go for it. We all have musical bits and bobs lying about that we could sell.

You can contact the majority of the stock audio websites mentioned above via the forum here, as there are a number of them representing themselves on the forum.

Something I also want to add however is that you should never sell your music, or yourself, short. You’ve most likely spent years practising, learning and training your skills, so don’t go and sell those skills for a small amount or even worse – for free. We’ve all done it – hell I’m guilty of it too. When I first started off selling music online, I would have given it away for free, as I was just so happy that people liked it enough to buy it. But overtime, you start to realise that you are worth more. There are some sites out there which will happily sell your music for $10 and only give you 25% of the money – thats $2.50 per sale, for something that has cost you how many hours of your time to create? I don’t agree with this, and any seasoned professional will tell you NOT to sell your music so cheap, or take such a small cut. I myself, do still have my music on some of those particular sites, and will keep some of my music on them as I think its good to have your music in as many places on the net as possible.

Some things which I have learnt, that you may or may not want to bare in mind:

KISS – my music seems to sell well, as some of it is not in a particular genre – it can be used in numerous genres so appeals to more people. I think if you try do this, you music is going to be more useful to more people – obviously this is only applicable to the stock music industry, where your main aim is just to sell music, so the more genres it is suitable for, the more producers, developers etc. are going to think about using it for their project.

Most stock audio websites give you the option of being exclusive or non-exclusive. Exclusive means you will only sell those particular tracks on their particular site and no others – non-exclusive means you can sell them on any site including their. Exclusive deals give you more of a payout per sale, but means that you don’t have as many income streams coming in, and it limits the amount of places you can have your music for sale on – also limiting how far reaching your music can be on the internet. In my opinion, I would never go “exclusive” with any website, as I feel you are just limiting yourself and your music. Make your own mind up though – look into it and see what you think!

Join a PRO (Performing Rights Organisation). Being registered with one of these means that if your music gets played commercially on tv or film, you are entitled to a royalty fee each time this happens. PRO companies look for this money for you so don’t have to – all you have to do is usually pay a tiny fee to join the one in your country. Well worth doing especially if your music is bought by a tv show, and is played one a week!

I think the stock music industry is a great way to break into the music industry in general. It has benefited me as a composer as I have got some great feedback on some of my music, I have made great contacts from it, and its given me a bit of extra cash – a great entry into the music industry as a whole, and indeed the film music industry, from a beginners point of view – at least in my opinion – I’m sure not everyone will agree – but try it out for yourself and see :)

NB – I’m sure I’ve missed out a number of stock audio websites – the ones above are just the ones I have tried, or heard of – a google search will show you theres hundreds more :)

UPDATE: If you’re interested in learning more about the music licensing industry and how to make money with your tracks, I’ve written an eBook called “The Business of Music Licensing – Generating Revenue Through Your Music“. Check it out and see what you think!

Written by: Emmett Cooke

Emmett Cooke is an Irish composer for film, tv and video games. His music has been used around the world by high profile companies including Sony Playstation, Ralph Lauren, ABC, CBS, NBC, Lockheed Martin and many more.

  • http://100musicalfootsteps.wordpress.com/ ggw_bach

    this is a very nice summary!

    many opportunites abound on the web for skilled and savy individuals.

    its all about creating value for people …

  • http://blog.moybella.net Niall

    For Revostock “Can you just open an account or do you have to submit a demo to be reviewed and be accepted? Yes” is a bit ambiguous :)

    Brilliant summary though.

  • http://soundtrack.ie Emmett

    Thanks guys – thanks aswell Niall – didnt notice that – just updated it now thanks :D

  • http://blog.moybella.net Niall

    Now I’ll have to actually get some ideas recorded rather than just messing about :)

  • http://BingFutch.com Bing Futch

    Excellent post, man! This is gold for people who are looking for some direction in this market, me included. I’ve had decent success with selling my original CDs both online and at gigs (I do a lot of festivals, where volume at point-of-purchase is highly concentrated) and I’ve done scoring work-for-hire, but have been wondering about this particular niche. You are very gracious with your info – I appreciate it!

  • http://candacebilyk.com Candy

    This is a great post! I’ve been working on royalty-free tracks for people to use with encouraged donations, but nobody donates. It would be nice to put them up on these sites, and would certainly encourage me to write more of it.

    Thanks for writing about it!

  • http://www.twitter.com/markozirkovich Marko

    Funny how it goes sometimes…

    I just uploaded 5 of my tracks to a stock music site and next thing I get from Emmett via Twitter is the link to this post. ;-)

    Thanks for sharing your personal experience with each site. That’s really useful.

  • Alan Killian

    Great summary, thanks Emmet!

  • http://www.myspace.com/Denieruuk Dan Taylor

    Excellent!

    Thanks very much for writing this man :)

  • Ali Alatas

    Very useful information! Thanks, Emmett! :)

  • http://www.remistevens.com remi stevens

    awesome article, very helpful thanks.

  • NOstyle

    Thank You!
    Very nice information!
    Respect! :)

  • Tom

    Thanks so much for this ,
    i thought there was no way of letting people use my music . this is great X

  • http://www.findmymusicteacher.com David Lockeretz

    Great stuff, thanks for putting it together.

  • http://www.reverbnation.com/wanderlustproject Wanderlust

    Thanks for the informative guide! Do you think my music is good enough to be uploaded to such a stock audio website? (http://www.reverbnation.com/wanderlustproject)

  • http://www.isyndica.com Hugo

    Very nice review. iSyndica (http://www.isyndica.com) just launched their audio category, so that you can submit your tracks to all the sites in one go.

    I’m curious to see how Pond5 evolves. They are top of the class in footage and have started audio a few months back.

  • Simon

    Great article, thank you.

  • brongkos

    yeah, very helping,nice guide for a newbie like me..im starting now!

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  • http://www.dialectricas.blogspot.com Daniel

    Thanks for sharing this info! Now where are in 2012…is there any other sites that you can recommend?

    Thanks.

  • theMidiTamer

    Nice article Emmet!

    I liked the part where you suggest to not give away music for free, mainly because I believe in good music, and good music always have a value. Personally by having some skills in web development myself I decided to open my own stock website PlayOnLoop.com, and after being around since 3 years it’s starting to give me some satisfactions.

    People still pay for good music, actually the microstock market is a great way for small, unknown artists to be appreciated and listened I’d say.

    • http://www.SonicOctave.com Emmett Cooke

      Thanks, glad you liked it. Nice website by the way :) I really need to update this article, or write a new one – its a couple of years old at this stage now :)

  • Mark (Chameleon Music)

    very good article, but needs updating….

    AudioMicro have seriously changed their pricing structure since then.
    Productiontrax is now a very different beast!

    • EmmettCooke

      Thanks for letting me know – I must update it soon :)

  • neyus

    A big thanks to you!

  • MC Denny music

    very good article, helped me a lot, thank you

    way to ask what will be a new article on the subject in 2012?

    • Emmett Cooke

      Thanks – a lot of people have asked me to write a new one for 2012/2013 – I’ll put it on my to-do list! :)

  • Dimos Stathoulis

    Really great article. I was actually bumped though when i saw that musicloops doesnt except artists whose catalog is also on audiosparx.Audiosparx on the other hand obligates you to keep your music on their website for at least 5 years and i agree that is so big that you just get lost in there.Do you take these limitations for serious emmett? Or you upload different tracks on each site?

    Music loops is also saying that which i didnt understand.

    ”If you are accepted into the library we will test your music on Youtube
    to see if it triggers copyright notifications and if it does your
    Musicloops.com account will be immediately deleted, no questions asked
    or answered”.
    What do they mean?

    • Emmett Cooke

      Hi Dimos, thanks. Yes you need to take those limitations seriously – I wrote this article a couple of years ago, so there weren’t as many problems with each library back then.

      What musicloops means about youtube is they want to make sure you don’t have your music in any content ID system – you can place your music in a content ID system which will listen for your music on youtube and if it hears it in someone’s video, will tell them its not their music and place ads over their video without their permission. Its perfectly legal to do – some composers do it in order to get more money – but a lot of decent music libraries do not allow it at all as it upsets their customers who paid for a license to use your music.

      Hope that helps

      Emmett

  • MusicCreation.de

    Thanks for this great work!

  • O-tunes

    Thank you, Emmet for sharing this with us.
    I have been considering selling my tracks on the stock-market for a while, but have been reluctant as I didn’t know the market.
    This article really helped me.

    Thank you for sharing!

    • Emmett Cooke

      No problem, glad you found it useful! :)

  • Petr Kiselev

    Very useful post, Emmett! Thank you very much!)

    • EmmettCooke

      Sure thing no problem :)

  • aamedia

    After 13 years of writing library music and working with these royalty free online, only libraries… I’m done. My sales have plummeted over the last year due to market over saturation. Sites like Audiosparx are killing us with over half a million songs from thousands of artists who do everything themselves to get the music posted, categorized, search engine optimized, etc. And they aren’t alone as there are new sites popping up all the time. A professional manager usually gets only between 10 and 20% for personalized service, yet these guys usually take 50 or more to do nothing specifically on your behalf. We as musicians have allowed this to happen and until we step back and look at it, these massive sites take 50% of sales from thousands of artists everyday while you get paid for a handful of sales per quarter, if any, because you can’t even really be heard.

    As of recent, I stopped working with these sites and I’m letting my agreements expire. I’m focusing more on getting my own placements and agreements direct and abandoning these sites for good. I used to be able to make a portion of my living just from royalty-free libraries, but not anymore and I feel like it’s a waste of my time that earns other people more money.

    • Sebastian R. Komor

      Hi. What would you suggest some song writers/producers who are out to license their music? Over saturation is a phenomena effecting the whole music industry. I am out to expand the horizon of where my music can be put and played, also build a more steady income. As of now I rely on sales from my own band as well as producing/mixing/mastering music for other artists.

  • SamGarnerStudios

    Hey Emmett, very good article. Read your book too, great stuff. I think you should mention that AudioJungle doesn’t accept PRO registered music, which is a huge turn off to me since a lot of places are very PRO friendly.

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  • http://www.urbanaudiotracks.com Hiram Kirkendall

    After years of selling stock music on multiple sites I have come to conclusion that the best way to earn a living is to start your own website. Sites like bandzoogle allow you sell your own downloads for about 20 dollars per month. if you have over 500 tracks which I do this may work out better for you because when people land on your site they are only listening to your music. Currently most composers are paying 50 percent or more to stock music companies who provide no services accept for web hosting. You have to do all of the marketing yourself but remember anytime you market your music on a stock music site you are also markting music for other producers. Its been my experience that you stand a much better chance making a living by starting your own website. You need not try to compete with bigger sites just focus on what you do. This way you can market to a more select group of clients.

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