Below are my answers to questions I often get asked about music libraries.

If you have a question that’s not answered here, let me know in the comments.

I’ll add it to my list and answer it asap 🙂

How long should my songs be for licensing?

Aim for standard radio edits, i.e. 2:30, 3:30 songs.

Shorter cues are fine as well.

Longer cues tend to scare people off.

Which is weird because songs rarely get played in full anyway!

Do I have to make instrumental versions available?

Yes.

It’s possible that someone will just fall in love with your song and want to license it as is.

But it’s unlikely. Customers want options. Give them what they want.

What are some of the best music libraries for indie artists?

Ah….. the impossible question 🙂

Unfortunately, there’s no right answer for this….

Libraries that work for some don’t work for others. Libraries that worked for someone in 2019 might not work for them (or at all!) in 2020.

The best advice I can give you is to research and submit your music to as many music libraries as you can and figure out what works for you.

I’ve listed 6 here to get you started and explained how I research music libraries here.

The Music Library Report is also a good resource with library reviews and an active forum of music composers.

Something to keep in mind….
The time you spend wondering which library is the best is time you’re not spending making or promoting your music 😉

How much money can I make from licensing my music?

You can make LOADS of money!

Like healthy six-figures.

But you can also make $0.00, and everything in between.

If you focus only on library music, chances are you’re not going to make a fortune.

BUT…. you can still make a LOT of money through music libraries, like this music producer on AudioJungle did:

Making money with music libraries

10,728 sales at a minimum of $29/license amounts to over $311,112.

Sellers keep between 45-87.5% of revenues on AudioJungle so that’s at least $140,000 paid out to the music producer.

For one song.

That might earn more in the future because it’s still available for licensing….

Pretty good, right?!

PRO vs non-PRO

Most music libraries encourage or accept songs that are registered with a PRO.

The track in the example above is registered with BMI.

That means if the song is performed in public, in a TV show for example, the composer will get performance royalties on top of the sync fees collected through AudioJungle.

Even though AudioJungle is a royalty-free music library.

But more on that later….

Am I allowed to have my songs on Spotify if I want to license them?

By default, yes!

Making your songs available to the public via Spotify and making your songs available for licensing through music libraries are two completely different things.

Music Distributors Vs Music Libraries

Music distributors make your music available for listening. People can listen to your tracks.

Music libraries make your music available for sync licensing. People can purchase a license to synchronize your tracks in an audio or audiovisual project, like a podcast or a film.

The two are not mutually exclusive.

There are some exceptions….

For example, if you transfer your copyrights to someone else, then that person would control where your music can and cannot be featured and they may decide that it can’t be on Spotify.

Is it ok to have my songs on Spotify if I want to license them or is it a turn-off for music supervisors?

Yes, you can have your songs on Spotify and in music libraries at the same time.

In fact, distributing and licensing your songs at the same time can be mutually beneficial.

Many artists have gained popularity on Spotify because their music was featured in ads or on popular TV shows for example.

Yes, some people might not place your music in their projects because it’s already been released commercially.

However, that would be the exception, not the rule.

Should I work with exclusive or non-exclusive libraries?

It’s a heated debate.

Here’s my take on it….

If you have a large catalogue of music, give both a try and see what works best for you.

If you have a small catalogue of music, focus on non-exclusive libraries.

Why?

I don’t deny that there can be problems with non-exclusive libraries.

I just think that there’s a bigger problem with exclusive libraries who sign up songs without paying any advance to the songwriter and often don’t get any placements for those songs.

More thoughts on this over here.

Vetting Exclusive Libraries

Even though I’m a big fan of non-exclusive libraries, I also understand that exclusive libraries are very attractive, not least because they tend to pay better and get the more prestigious placements.

The big risk, of course, is that you sign a deal with an exclusive library and they don’t place any of your songs.

There are a few things you can do to mitigate that risk.

Check out this interview with Kelly Pardekooper, who’s had songs in hit TV shows like True Blood and Songs of Anarchy.

He explains why he agreed to sign an exclusive deal with Black Toast Music and what he did to vet them beforehand.

Aaaand…. it’s right at the beginning of the video so you don’t have to watch the full 2 hour interview if you don’t want to!! 😉

What does “royalty-free” mean?

IN THEORY….

“Royalty-free” just means that the customer pays a one-time synchronization fee.

For example, a podcaster who purchased a license on PremiumBeat, doesn’t have to pay additional royalties every time the jingle is used in a new podcast episode.

However, if that podcast is played on terrestrial radio in the US for example, the radio does have to provide that information to their local PRO.

The songwriters should, in time, receive performance royalties from their PRO.

IN PRACTICE….

Some music libraries use the term incorrectly to describe music that’s free of copyright.

When that’s the case, the library wants you to renounce your music copyrights and, by extension, your music royalties.

That’s why it’s important to always double check what the library means by “royalty-free”.

Don’t hesitate to ask the question directly if it’s not clear in the contract.

What’s the Difference Between Stock Music Libraries and Production Music Libraries?

None.

Stock music and production music is the same thing.

Both terms refer to:

1-music that is already in stock in the library.

As opposed to custom audio written on demand.

2- music that has been written specifically for use in audio and audio visual projects like podcasts, corporate videos, films and TV shows.

As opposed to a song that was first written with live performance in mind for example.

Music libraries that offer that type of music are called stock music libraries or production music libraries.

Pro tip – That doesn’t mean you can’t submit a song that you wrote for your band to a stock music library.

Many production libraries will accept songs that were not written specifically with sync licensing in mind.

Often, they’ll simply be more interested in your instrumental version and/or ignore the version with lyrics completely.

Something’s still unclear? Have another question?

Let me know in the comments. I’ll be updating this post regularly.