When I was a kid, my mom and my aunt and uncle had a band called the Toston Flatts Dance Band in Montana. They played every weekend for weddings, honky tonks, corporate events, and the like. They had lots of fun and seemed to earn alright money doing it.
I followed this route as well for the last 10 years of my life but more recently, I’m not wanting to spend my time in bars, stay up late, and spend so much time on the road.
Traditionally I’ve always thought that making money in the music industry would almost always have to be living a traveling musician life. With online video and content emerging the way it has recently, I can see that there’s now a new way to earn money with my passion and still create music that inspires me.
In my constant search for the new music industry, I keep coming back to sync licensing your music for video.
From what I’ve found so far, licensing music in video is proving to be one of the most useful and lucrative ways to create music for a living.
In this post I’ll discuss the concept, the industry, the main players, and how to get started producing and licensing royalty-free background music for video, also called sync licensing.
I’m a beginner here but I’m using this post as a study guide and notes for what’s working and what is not. I’ll try to keep it updated as good as possible.
Different ways to license your music for video
Public music libraries are libraries where anyone can submit their music and it allows content creators to browse through it and choose their favorite songs.
This is one of the easier ways to get started but offers a smaller return than other options I’ve found.
Here’s a few of the big public libraries I’ve discovered:
License Selling Public Libraries (they sell licenses one by one without a monthly recurring charge for the user)
Audio Jungle: This is a public music library that is run by a company called Envato which sells all types of digital content. The company Envato sells website themes, video clips, apps, audio samples, pretty much anything that is needed for digital media, and “Audio Jungle” is their music licensing arm.
You need to submit your music to them to review and if it’s good enough, they’ll accept your submission and put it into the marketplace. They let you choose the pricing for each size of license so that’s nice.
I’ve currently only had 1 song accepted and I’ve made a whopping 3 sales. Nothing big to report here but I know some people with really high quality production music make very big bucks with this.
Pond 5: This is a similar model to Envato and Audio Jungle but it seems to be on a lower level. They too let you choose the sales price of each license and don’t charge a subscription to the user.
Subscription Model Public Libraries – (you get a share of total subscription revenue depending on how many people used your music)
Artlist: You can submit your music to them and they might accept you, then whenever someone downloads (even the preview track) your music, you’ll get credited and receive a share of their subscription fee.
Private libraries are harder to get into but yeild larger results. These types of libraries have clients that come to them looking for music, then they pitch your music to be used. They obviously get a cut but I’m not sure exactly how much.
I’ve gotten one song placed in a private library via Catch The Moon Music. It is a instrumental fiddle cover of Avicii’s “Wake Me Up.” No word on any placements yet but I’m excited to see what comes through.
If you google private music libraries, you’ll see there’s a ton of these and it seems to be a good idea to find ones that align with you and try to join them.
Cold email pitching music supervisors and industry contacts
After scouring the internet, taking the 6 Figure Songwriting Course from Cathy Heller, and private mentorship from a licensing instructor, it seems like cold pitching music supervisors can yield great results.
But, you have to really get into the head of music supervisors so that you don’t annoy them or build a bad relationship.
- Find a show/movie/ad that your music would be good in
- Look on IMDB to see who the music supervisor is (or the like)
- Find their agency and look for contact info
- Send them an email that helps them do their job.
- Make sure you include meta info (track details)
- Make sure you include publisher info
- Make sure you include royalty owners, writers, and all the shares allocated to every writer.
- Make sure to tell them if it’s one stop (discussed below) or not.
- Send one mass email to every supe you can find
- Send them music that they would never use and isn’t what they’re looking for
- Spell their name wrong
- Forget to include meta and contact information in your message
- Send attachments that will fill their inbox. Use stream/download links
The key is to help them do their job!
What Is One Stop And How To Get it
One stop basically means that a music supervisor would only have to get clearance from one person/entity in order to use the song in a video project.
So if you wrote, produced, and published a song completely on your own, that would be one-stop. This is what music supervisors want to see because it means it’s easy to clear, and remember the goals is to make music supervisors’ lives easier.
The Importance of Instrumental Versions and Stems
In a video, if someone will be talking over your song with it playing in the background, the edits will need an instrumental version in order to make it work. I would include the instrumental version in the download/stream link that you send to any supervisor.
Depending on the project, the supervisor will also want the stems in case they want to remix and master to their liking. I think it’s a good practice to have the stems in a clean zipped file ready to go at the drop of a hat.
The Importance Of Short Versions And How To Make Them
With sites like audio jungle, public and private libraries, you’ll want to include multiple lengths of your song. This makes it easier for editors to just drop it in and go.
Check out all the other songs on audio jungle to see the time stamps of each version within the deliverable.
How To Name Your Tracks In A Music Library
With public libraries, you’ll want to make sure you use keywords in the title and description of your song that people are searching for. Make sure you look at other popular songs to see how they’re naming.
SEO is super important here!
Best Sync Songs for 2019
Over my journey in this world I’ve been compiling a playlist of the best sync songs that are working today in tv, movies, and ads. Check out the spotify playlist below and follow. I add new songs here consistently.
Notice the recurring themes in all the music above. Here’s the ones that I hear people are looking for the most:
- Female Empowerment
Where To License Your Music Online For Video
Some Public Libraries:
- $199/month unlimited: Artlist
- Premium Beat
- Song Freedom
- Epidemic Sound
Some Private Libraries:
- $99 per track: https://us.audionetwork.com/
- $135/year: https://soundstripe.com/music-library
- $80-500: https://www.megatrax.com/
- ($$$): https://spiritproductionmusic.sourceaudio.com/#!home
- ($$$): https://www.5alarmmusic.com/licensing/
To better understand how the musicians on these sites create, license, and earn money with their music I interviewed a few who responded:
I’m still very much on this journey and haven’t had any major placements yet but I’m digging deeper every day. If you’d like to connect or work together in any way please reach out.
Good luck on the licensing journey and let me know if you ever need fiddle/violin on a track! firstname.lastname@example.org