The 80-20 Music Licensing Challenge

//The 80-20 Music Licensing Challenge

What would happen if I spent 80% of my time SELLING music and only 20% of my time MAKING music?

Let’s find out….

For the next 12 weeks, I’m not going to make any new music.

Instead, I’m going to focus on selling the music I already have.

1 – Why Am I Doing This?

The Theory

Pareto’s Principle, or the 80/20 rule. Maybe you’ve heard of it before….

20 efforts = 80 results

What Does That Mean For Us Musicians?

It means roughly 20% of your tracks account for 80% of your sales.

It means roughly 20% of your marketing efforts account for 80% of the people who visit your website.

It means roughly 20% of the music libraries you work with account for 80% of your library licensing revenues.

That’s all well and good but what it also means is that…..

80 efforts = 20 results

Think of the sense of overwhelm, the feeling of discouragement that stem from this hard truth….

How much better would you feel if you could identify the 20% of your efforts that bring in 80% of your results and focus on those tactics and strategy for a while?

With this amount of clarity and focus, the anxiety and uncertainty that seems inherent to the life of a musician would dissipate.

What Am I Hoping to Achieve?

So that’s one of the things I want to achieve: more focus → less stress and anxiety….

Focus, Breathe, Relax

Another, rather obvious objective is simple:

Make Money Making Music

Ok, this may sound contradictory but it really isn’t! Let me explain….

For the past few years, when it comes to music, I’ve been focusing at least 80% of my time on recording lots and lots of new tracks.

The remaining 20% dedicated to my music career has been scattered about, stretched thinly between social media, website design, music libraries and networking.

Of course that’s the easy way…. I’m comfortable in the studio. When it comes to planning social media content and promoting my music, not so much.

It just doesn’t come naturally. To tell you the truth, it’s a little bit scary. I feel stupid and annoying when I think of all the “self-promotion” I should be doing….

ANYWAYYYYY let’s move on from this for now or I’ll never publish this post and commit to the challenge!!!

So…. What’s My Challenge?

Focus on sales challenge

2 – How Am I Going To Do It?

Now that’s a question Shakespeare would be proud of! Or not :-p

Focus on High-Reward Activities

I want to be working on projects that are meaningful to me and in line with my values.

With that in mind, I’m going to research and reach out to local businesses who impact society in a positive way and might need music to promote their activities and team up with other creatives who are into that line of work and want to help socially responsible businesses raise awareness.

Now these high-reward activities are not meant to earn me big dollars. They’re meant to earn me lots and lots of karma points!!

What?????? I thought this challenge was all about making sales and money???

Well yeah but surely more karma points = more $$$ down the line, right?

Plus, we also need to consider the #1 most important component here…. Simply put:

Happy People Equals Happy Me

It’s actually scientifically proven that doing good around you, being involved in something positive around your community is also good for YOU.

So…. even/especially if you’re a skeptic (and I must confess I often am, or am I… :p), try it out and find out for yourself 😉

Focus on High-Earning Activities

Why? Because making money is also important to me. I need it to make more music and feel relaxed about it.

In the music world, there’s money in licensing. In the music licensing world, there’s money in advertising….

So I’m going to focus on selling my music to advertisers. I’m going to research and reach out to brands, ad agencies and production companies.


I thought you wanted to contribute positively to the world???

Well yeah, doing good and making money are not mutually exclusive. My plan is to prove that to you in the next 12 weeks.

Of course, I can’t just will my way to high-end advertising gigs!!

The advertising agencies and production companies that work hand in hand with brands already source their music from a place they trust.

They’re not just going to give my music a spin to make me happy.

First, I need to GET THEIR ATTENTION and have them listen to my music. Then, I need to PROVE to them that I’m no risk at all. I need them to trust me.

So how do I do that?

Focus on Providing Value

Now here’s the tricky part…. With thousands of talented musicians out there, I need to figure out a way to stand out and provide value to the people I want to work with….

It can’t be only about the music.

First things first, how do I stand out?

Stuff That Makes Me Stand Out

So we’ve got a few things there. I could also add I’m very prolific. It’s fairly easy for me to write a dozen tunes in a month. (Not in the long run, I need to rest but if there are tight deadlines, I can make it work)

How does that translate into providing value?

Qualities in theory are all well and good but I also need to PROVE that I can provide value.

Now this is scary! I’ve never worked directly with a big brand before and, if I start aiming to land a deal with Nike right away, there’s a good chance I’m going to fail at it!

So where should I start? What can I do to eventually convince Nike to bet on me?

I’m going to start small and provide value to local women sports team.

1- First, I’ll be taking their existing videos and enhancing their impact by adding epic music from my catalogue.

2- Then, I’ll send them the new awesome video as a freebie to show them what I can do and ask them if there’s anything else I can help them with (if my research hasn’t identified anything specific I think they should be looking into).

The music will be high-quality of course but there’s so much music out there, it’s almost secondary. My positioning needs to do the heavy-lifting and put me in the spotlight….

Now THAT’s got to get Nike’s attention at some point, right? 😉

3 – What Am I Giving Up?

You’ll notice this strategy is all about doing my homework, creating value and reaching out directly to the decision maker.  

It does not include social media, stock music libraries or my own licensing platform…

Why am I giving up on social media, libraries and my website?

It’s been great to connect with fellow indie musicians, to understand what kind of posts and courses could be helpful to others. For selling music, not so much.

Music libraries won’t get be any closer to what I’m trying to achieve in the next 12 weeks, i.e. grow and gain greater control on my income licensing music.

Since part of my catalogue is already working for me in music libraries, I can afford to set aside that option for the time being and focus my attention on other opportunities.

The traffic figures are pretty pathetic and conversion rates even less impressive…

In the future, I absolutely want to revamp it and turn it into a passive income monster sales machine!! But right now, I have to accept that what I’ve been trying isn’t working as well as it should considering the time and energy I spent on it.

Note to self, it might be a good lesson for a future blog post…. The advantages and pitfalls of doing everything yourself…. What do you think? Is that a promising topic for a post?!

Anywayyyy, I’m cutting these 3 activities for the next 12 weeks: no social media, no music libraries, no website work.

What if I was wrong to stop doing these 3 things?

First of all, my partner will, under duress, confirm that I’m rarely wrong :p

Secondly, even if I am wrong and giving up on these 3 activities has a negative impact on my earnings, it’s ok.

It’s only a 12 week commitment, 3 months. In April, I can re-evaluate and correct course.

So in the unlikely event that I’m wrong, it’s really not a big deal!

I’ll Be Making One Exception….

I’m going to make ONE social media exception…. for The Morning Sessions that I started in May 2017 with the objective to keep them going for a full year and see what happens.

It’s time consuming and there are not many viewers BUT I see it as an accountability tool…. If I don’t post a new video every day, a few people will notice. This forces me to GET SHIT DONE!

Don’t worry though, I’ve found a way to make it make sense with the challenge…. I’ll be recording myself researching and reaching out to opportunities and posting what I’ve been up to every day.

The principle is 100% authentic too…. I film everything in ONE TAKE and make ZERO EDITS!

So if you want exclusive access behind the scenes, get in!

Episodes 226 onwards are all about this project. Make sure you subscribe if you want to get notified when a new video is posted.

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