I am working with stock music about 10 years now, my journey starts with google search term: How to sell music online. I wasn’t very successful at the start because I didn’t analyze what I should create and how I should do it. I hope this information will be useful to all music producers who want to sell music online with stock music libraries.
This notion has appeared not so long time ago as a reaction to the growing market of Digital sales right when the photo banks have started to gain their popularity. The owners of advanced platforms have started to introduce sales of various digital products: videos, templates for websites and other digital items including music. Clients were attracted by a simple and understandable licensing, so-called royalty free. Various platforms have different conditions of licensing, but the context is the same – a client buys a new track to use it in his project and does not pay any royalty, although it is not always so, but it is a different story.
Who is our client?
The main client is the companies producing videos and private entrepreneurs. Big clients are rare in this market, though at the latest times their number is growing. This content usually attracts mass video production, companies making many videos to receive a few money, a huge number of content creators for different media platforms (youtube, Vimeo) and people in general, who want to highlight the important life events with appropriate music.
This is the information that you should always keep in mind as a music producer: who you are working for and how your music will be used. It’s the most important if you want to sell music online. Know your client.
The convenience of your music usage is a key moment for consumers. It depends exclusively on the client’s wishes, but not on your wishes what you want to create.
Try to please a client as it is the sense of this market.
Main principles in stock music
Firstly, your content should support a visual component. When you work on a project, keep always in mind the ways of its usage. I would suggest working with a video track to achieve good results. Look for video clips on video services or create them yourselves with different moods and use it as a background during track writing. Many composers use this method because it helps to work quickly, qualitatively and to express the right emotion.
It is also useful to add a track with a speaker’s voice and to turn it on periodically together with music. It gives an understanding what elements are unnecessary and interrupts the voice.
What makes a small number of bestsellers different from hundreds of thousands of tracks, from an army of authors? I have been trying to find the answer quite long, though I did not receive it. The problem is that there are a lot of factors and one of them is a banal luck. However, more I was listening and comparing usual tracks and best sellers, more I received a difference. It is an emotion.
These compositions attract the attention from the first seconds regardless of their complexity and sounding. Our client is not a professional musician. He can forgive us the quality of sound, but if the track is ‘empty’ and does not touch emotions, he will pass by. So, what provokes this emotion? I am afraid, there is no direct answer to this question. I suppose it is not usually one element, instead, it is a combination of factors. For example, a good chord itself can provoke a good emotion but is usually not enough. What if this chord will be enhanced with an appropriate timbre? This is the place, where the magic starts… The same may be applied to melodies. A good melody itself is important, but, if it is not reinforced with an appropriate timbre, it will not be interesting for a client.
Freedom of creativity?
Many people think that you do not have any restrictions during track creation for stocks. You write the music that you find good but is not the complete truth. Yes, you have a freedom at some point, but it is a freedom limited by a commercial product. Many people do not understand this truth and wonder why their products are not being sold when the issue is that they are not simply created for this market.
So, what is a “commercial product” in stock music? Everything is simple – there are some rules that a person should follow. The rules of the market:
- Introduction? Let’s go directly to the text! Try to avoid long introductions. The thing is that the client does not usually listen to a track longer than 10-15 seconds, this is why your goal is to catch him within these time limits. Even if the track is really good and is appropriate for a project, the client will not simply listen to it till the end. You can create alternative versions of the track, where you can put a long introduction. Thus, it should be an alternative to the main file, not a vice versa. Although, all the rules have exceptions. If it seems to you that the intro itself is a catchy point, it means that it is really so.
- Please, no surprises! Unpredictable music is amazing and it can astonish. But, in our case, it is the number one enemy. We should keep in mind that our music has to support a video arrangement as the main requirement. There should not be any changes in mood, cutting pauses and unpredictable music paces. Everything distracting from the video – does not fit in. Virtuosic solo parts are also related to this idea.
- Clear ending. Finishing the track, you should think about the people who will be editing it. It is very difficult to put a final dot in a video track if the composition ends with a simple fade out. Even a plain track ending with a tonic chord will perfectly suit any video arrangement. Pay more attention to endings, because, if the client has listened to the track until the end, there is a very high possibility that he is going to buy it. You don’t want to spoil his impression by finishing the track with fade out, do you?
When will the creation start?
And, from this point, the most complicated part begins. It is necessary to maintain the balance between creation and commerce. Personally, I think that it is one of the most interesting aspects of stock music. It is a certain challenge the stock musicians face with every day. We need to make a client interested in us, being limited to commerce. It is difficult enough to transfer emotions without the use of a full range of music tools. However, as everyone knows, the rules exist to be violated. Hence, after transgressing unpredictable results, in a good sense, may sometimes appear.
For the Beginners
On my opinion, audio stocks are one of the most difficult ways to sell music online. It is necessary to spend 2-3 days to create one good track. It is possible to create 2 compositions per day and many people do it successfully. Though, they usually earn from a number of tracks. They have many of them, but only newest ones are usually successfully sold. At the same time, those who work hard to create music, have more chances to attain TOP league. The level of sellers, that is the place, where success lives. This success is not temporary, instead, it is permanent and sustainable. It is a kind of philosophical question: how should a person work? – Is it better to do everything quickly and a lot to sacrifice quality or to maximize quality? I have the answer and I will write it here, but a bit later.
So, the point I incline to is: if you are looking for easy money, you are 3-4 years late. Because the level of acceptable works for libraries has arisen till nowadays. This means that a producer-beginner should be ready to rejects for some period of time until he gets enough experience. If it is not an issue for you, welcome to our music express, take a comfortable seat and have a nice ride!
Quantity or quality?
As I have mentioned above, there are two leagues of audio stockers. Those who write a few, but every track is unique and interesting and those who write according to the scratch working as a conveyor and sacrificing fresh ideas.
Both ways give the equal earnings but have an important distinction. Those who write a few but of high-quality, make relaxations for themselves for one or two months, while their selling does not go down. Those who work for an amount cannot afford it because their selling depends on their regular uploads.
Additionally, if you work only for a quantity, it is extremely difficult to be distinguishable from the crowd, because your works are mediocre and even good ideas become unsuccessful as they do not receive enough attention at the period of their creation. The market grows very quickly as well as its average quality of music. Something valuable and unique should be offered otherwise you will find yourself not on the board of the ship “Audio stock”, but overboard…
How to become a top stock musician?
Everything is very simple (in reality it is not). To produce something valuable it is necessary to write a ton of shit at the beginning. Quite so, it does not work any other way. To say it, in other words, you should write for a quantity until you turn it into quality!
It is good for the development of style and feeling: good or bad – you should write a huge amount of tracks. As for me, it took nearly 300 works until I got some understanding of how it works (I agree – perhaps, I am not very smart). Some people will need only 50, 100, others will need 200, but with the healthy stubbornness, you will get positive results in any case. The main thing is always to self-improve and not to give up.
Your income will rise proportionally to your inputs. Your tracks will become more interesting for a client. And, at the time, when you start earning as much as you need for independent living, you will be able to create something new, because you will have a sustainable reserve and a small credit of client trust. Until that time, write a lot of in-demand content!