Let’s be honest. I’m pretty sure your parents, teachers or even neighbours might have tried to talk you out of becoming a musician at some point in your life. I get it, it takes some work, and they probably had their reasons. I know this because a lot of people gave me hell too, but that wasn’t going to stop me.
To be fair, most folks only worry about this profession because of monetary reasons. But fortunately, with the internet, earning money has gotten a lot easier regardless of what you do for a living. Musicians can now promote their music in a number of ways, targeting fans from all around the world.
Aside from being able to earn a couple of bucks, music licensing ensures that you’ll always be compensated every time your work is used. In this blog post, I’ll be providing you a detailed guide on how to license your music. And rest assured, the steps aren’t very difficult to follow.
But first, you’re probably wondering how much you can make this way. Well, that solely depends on who you are reaching out to. Let’s say you’d like to make $6000 (it’s an ambitious figure, but it’s not impossible), here’s how you’d be able to achieve it.
|Project||Price Per Unit||Sales Required|
|Indie Film Trailer||$500||12|
Please note that while I’ve tried my best to provide you solid figures, these prices are subject to change. But either way, I hope this table motivates you to take some initiative. Now let’s get started with the details on how to license your music.
Select a Couple of Tracks
We’re artists and we’d be lying to ourselves if we said we didn’t have our favorites. Select a couple of your favorite tunes that you personally enjoy listening too. While there’s no need to be a perfectionist here, there are a couple of guidelines that you should follow:
- Keep the language clean. People don’t usually respond well to explicit lyrics so it’s a good idea to select your options wisely.
- Apart from songs, you can also go for instrumentals. A lot of musicians experience success with those.
- Don’t even think about sending out samples from somebody else’s work. It’s crucial that you own the rights to the song. If you have co-authored it with someone, work out an agreement before you go ahead with the licensing process.
- Make sure to reach out to your label or publisher before you head over to licensing options.
Export MP3 and WAV Files
Understand that when you’re sending music files, there are preferred qualities that might help you seal the deal. You’re better off if you export your tracks in the following formats:
- MP3: 24 bit instead of 16 bit
- WAV Files: 48kHz instead of 44kHz
Note that these are only preferred audio formats and following these guidelines does not necessarily mean that they will choose your track. Your music needs to sound good.
Fill out Metadata
When licensing your music, make sure you correctly fill out the metadata. This ensures that all your information will be accurately displayed when the music is playing. The metadata includes important information such as:
- Artist Name & Track Name: While this may seem fairly obvious, you’d be surprised to know that a lot of submissions are made without putting in correct information.
- Comments: You’re required to enter your contact details here. It’ll ensure that the right people can get in touch with you if necessary. You can also look up videos on YouTube to learn how to do this.
- Release Date: This part is great for year-specific briefs so it’s a must that you mention the release date.
- Genre: People would want to know what genre the track is, mention it in the metadata.
In most cases, if a music supervisor thinks your music has potential, they will save in their music library. By filling out your metadata properly, it will make it possible for music supervisors to find your songs in a jiffy. If you leave out critical information, you might miss out on a pretty good deal.
Make a Master Spreadsheet
In case things start to look up for you, you’ll benefit from having all your data saved in one spot. Create a master spreadsheet that contains all of your metadata. This will certainly help you when deals are moving quickly. Make sure that your spreadsheet contains the following information:
- Track name
- Copyright registration number
It’s also a good idea to throw in a few keywords and a short description of each track. This will come in useful when you’re uploading songs to the music library. Staying organized will prevent you from panicking last minute.
Register tracks with PRO
Before you even think about licensing your music, I strongly recommend that you register with Performance Rights Organisation (PRO). If you’ve already registered with them then congratulations, you get to move forward with this list. The PRO is an organization that ensures that you’re paid royalties every time your music is aired on TV or radio. If you reside in the US, you can get in touch with BMI or ASCAP.
If you’re situated anywhere else, you’ll have to look up relevant organizations in your country. There’s no reason to be too skeptical when picking an organization either. You can simply register with any PRO of your choice.
Copyright Your Tracks
Before you can license your music, it’s critical that you have it copyrighted. Nobody will agree to move further if your music isn’t copyrighted. If things start to turn up, you may be contacted by a music supervisor very soon and if your music isn’t copyrighted then, you may fall back on the waiting list.
Look for Music Libraries
If you’re interested in licensing your music, you ought to focus your energies on finding music libraries. This might take some extra time and research but it’s bound to work out well for you. So, what are music libraries anyway?
These are essentially platforms that are designed for curating music, and help make it possible for you to license tunes. On its own, music libraries will not promote your music, instead it will add your music to its directory, making it possible for ad agencies and other platforms to license it.
How Will I Get Paid Via Music Library?
So now you’re probably wondering how you’ll get paid after all of this. Well since music libraries connect you with opportunities, they take a cut or an upfront fee – whatever you call it. Here’s what you can expect:
- Sync Fee: This here is the fee that you’re required to pay the music library upfront. The fee varies depending on the license agreement. Most times, it’s your standard 50/50 split but some platforms such as Audiosparx may be more generous in this matter.
- Ad Revenue: Lately, ad revenue is all people tend to talk about. So for instance, if your music finds its way in a YouTube video, you will be given a share of the ad revenue. However, this process is a little bit more complicated because it involves being a part of the Content ID program. If you’re only a beginner, you need not worry about this option.
- Performance Royalties: As the name indicates, these royalties comprises of music that has been played on TVs and radios. And here is where PRO comes into place since that will help you collect revenue from different sources.
Researching Music Libraries
Music licensing is a tedious process, mainly because there is a lot of research and waiting involved. You are likely to do better if you research a couple of production libraries and determine whether you are a good fit. Start by analyzing the kind of music they already feature, perhaps you’re just what they’re looking for to fill the gap. You will also find tons of details on their FAQ’s page or contact page.
If I were you, I would also read up more on exclusive and non-exclusive deals. If they are inclined towards exclusivity of the songs, you’re better off with someone else. This essentially means that only that particular music library will be allowed to license it. So if they forget about your track somewhere along the way, you will immediately stop making money. Therefore, only get yourself into such deals if you’re thoroughly sure about what you’re getting yourself into. If you don’t quite know the in’s and out’s of how it works, you’re better off with non-exclusive deals.
Read the Guidelines Thoroughly
So yes, this is pretty much common sense but a lot of folks don’t take the time out to read and follow submission guidelines. And I’ll be honest with you, that kind of attitude isn’t going to get you very far. Some music libraries have a minimum number of tracks that you can send so you might have to wait for them to get back to you before you send any more. Additionally, some music libraries may require you to send streaming links instead of attachments.
All these guidelines may seem fairly simple to follow but a lot of folks tend to be careless and that reflects poorly on you as a professional. Also, don’t worry about not being on Spotify or other streaming sites. Such trivial factors will not get in the way of you making music. A lot of musicians feel discouraged because they might not have a website yet or are only beginners in the field. Stop letting these excuses get in the way of your ambitions and show people what you’re made of. As long as your music sounds good, you can work on the other things (like your reputation and popularity overtime).
However, I will add that having a solid Instagram account may help make a good impression.
Write a Kickass Email
Needless to say, you’ll have to show a little bit of showmanship when you’re selling yourself to music supervisors and folks representing media libraries. Write a kickass letter that is short and gets the point across. You’d want to introduce yourself, talk about how you’re a good fit and please for the love of God, show that you’ve done some research. Sign off politely with a link or attachment of your track and allow them to seal the deal. If you’re not known for your words, ask someone to help you write a killer email. You can also hire someone to take the workload off your hands. Consider this as an investment that will eventually pay off in the long run. Understand that you only need one letter template which you can edit from time to time according to your needs.
Create a List of Contact Info
Earlier, we discussed the importance of having an excel sheet with all your music details in it. Well, you also need have a spreadsheet that contains information about licensing agents and other folks that you will be reaching out to. Being organized will also show that you’re a real professional who’s willing to do the extra grit work.
This will help you keep track of follow-ups and feedback that you have received for your music. I also urge that you list down the dates of contact and of when you first reached out to them. Having all this information at hand will allow you to strengthen your relationship with these folks. Remember not to bug people will frequent follow-ups. If someone is interested in working with you, they will most definitely get back to you.
Bringing it All Together
Being a musician is fun and all but it’s time you start monetizing all your hard work. Once you have selected the right tracks and have all the details in order, it’ll make it easier for you to pitch for a different platform each time around. And while you are pitching, don’t let this steal focus from your work. If you make awesome mixes, the doors of opportunity will open up themselves!
Is there something you’d like to add? Please let me know in the comments section below. Also, hit me up with your success stories on licensing music.
Further reading: best laptops for music production.