Library Music can be very lucrative career path if done well but it also requires a lot of patience to get started which means that it’s not for everyone. It’s certainly not a quick route to cash unless you already have a huge catalogue of suitable music that you can draw upon. Often it’s viewed as a good time investment for income in later years as it can take a while to build a good catalogue of songs, grow your reputation and for royalty payments to start snowballing into enough of a working wage.

Getting Started With Library Music

Start to think about how many pieces of music music you hear on a daily basis on television, in games and while going about your daily life and you’ll start to realise where the opportunities are, then think about the fact that this is a service that’s needed globally. That’s a lot of music required on a daily basis. However like any market at the minute, the Library Music arena is swamped and you’re fighting for a piece of market share. Affordable studio equipment means that the barrier to entry is low and that anyone can create library tracks in their own homes. For this reason it’s important to ensure that you’re putting out the best quality product possible to increase your chances of your music being used.

Which Genres Should You Choose

It’s always a good idea to pick two or three genres that you are already familiar with and then study them until you know them inside out. However that being said, there are some genres that work better than others when it comes to library music – corporate sounding tracks do quite well, as do jazz and classical pieces. Start listening to TV adverts and zone in on the background music on TV shows – take written notes if necessary to start to get an idea of what styles of music are being licensed. Bear in mind when writing that library music should be in the background and enhancing rather than distracting from the visuals – make your pieces interesting but not too busy. If you’re into creating something more dramatic then look at gaming or trailer music as options.

How To Categorise Your Library Music

It is better to view your Library output as a complete piece of work, in otherwords create a full album with a theme. Have a Classical Collection, Corporate, Jazz or Cinematic. Give the album a name and unique artwork as you would any other album release. To get a better idea, check out some examples here at the Warner Chappell Production Music website.

Live Musicians

The competition is high and some of the more established libraries will only take tracks with live musicians – they are used to getting their strings recorded by full orchestras at Abbey Road. Either hold off until you can get live musicians or at least have musicians playing on the main lead parts to give a live feel to the whole piece. If you’re a multi-instrumentalist then great. If not then there are a lot of places you can find pro musicians who will record remotely and send you a finished part as a .wav file (we’ll be adding a few sources later this week). Alternatively you can either pay musicians an hourly session rate to come to your studio or to attend a session at another studio in town if you’re a home-based composer.

Stems

I can’t emphasise this strongly enough and this applies to any recording session you do, library music or band work – get stems! Stems are individual exports for each track or more commonly, groups of tracks, i.e. guitars, drums, strings, backing vocals. They will increase your chances of getting your music placed if different options are made available and also allow for easy remixing at a later date.

Professional Mixing and Mastering

Unless you’re a really top quality engineer then it’s strongly recommended that you get your tracks professionally mixed and mastered to help you stand out against the competition. The fact is that we can’t all be good at everything and most successes come through using the best options available to you and putting together the correct team. Some studios will offer stem mastering for an even better end result, especially useful if you’re mixing at home and if the library that you’re working with requires stems. Check out companies such as The Airlab for budget and stem mastering options.

Metadata

To greatly increase the chances of your work being discovered and used, make sure to add some great metadata to your tracks. We recommend downloading the app Metadatics. Add a descriptive paragraph and also some useful keywords that could describe the mood of your track. Also include tempo and key signature information.

Register Your Work

Be sure to register your work at PRS before sending it out. Sign up for a free account and make sure that you’re eligible to receive any future royalties. We’ll have a more in-depth look at PRS in a future article.

How To Present Your Work

Create free accounts at Reelcrafter and / or Soundcloud. Ideally you’ll have enough tracks to create genre playlists. If you have examples of audio set to visuals then add to YouTube, Vimeo or a Pro Reelcrafter account. Embed audio and video showreels into your own website. Don’t add attachments to any emails that you send out, this is frowned upon as it clogs up inboxes. Just a link to your latest or most appropriate showreel will be fine.

Which Libraries To Approach First

It’s recommended that you start with smaller libraries first and once you have more experience and a good selection of placements, you can approach the bigger and more well-known libraries with a few successes behind you. Be aware that some of the smaller libraries only offer royalty-free options. Many of these libraries are non-exclusive so it’s fine to have the same tracks across multiple libraries. We recommend starting with around a dozen and then submitting any future releases to the ones that are producing results. Some libraries may rename your tracks to prevent clients from searching for a cheaper license option elsewhere but if they do then they will likely be registering this information with PRS – keep an eye on this to ensure that all royalty payments are coming through to you.

Selling Your Tracks On Your Own Website

Selling your tracks on your own site is an option. If you have a WordPress site this can be easily achieved by adding the plugin Easy Digital Downloads (EDD). You can add different license options in a dropdown menu and add the license in the upload area so that clients can instantly download it along with the track. Bear in mind though that for any licenses sold within the EU, you are required by law to be VAT registered and so it may be better to use a platform like Bandcamp that sorts this for you. When it comes to adding your license prices, don’t devalue your work and undercut your contemporaries as this will just kill the industry for everyone involved. I would recommend looking around at a few other sites and charging a similar rate.

We’ll be going into much more detail in future articles and adding links to some useful online resources.