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Selling Royalty Free Music: Are You Giving Up Too Soon?

The following is a real life email from a real life customer on Productiontrax.com:

Hi Dave,

Last week I found some great music tracks on your website. The track ID numbers were 1234 and 5432. I tried out the free low-res demos and they worked perfectly in my film, and now I’m ready to license them and download the hi-res versions. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find them anymore on Productiontrax. Can you help?

Sincerely,

Joe Customer

It never fails. A composer puts some music up on PT looking to make a quick sale, and then hides or removes the track completely after only a couple of days, disappointed and frustrated that it hasn’t licensed yet.

Granted, there are many good reasons to pull tracks from your account: you signed a deal with an “old skool” library, you’re changing careers, you just licensed the same track to another customer on an exclusive basis. But what we tend to see are composers who get impatient, expecting customers to immediately buy tracks within minutes.

So what should you do? What is a reasonable amount of time to give a track to sell before considering other options? I suggest these following rules of thumb for selling royalty free music, sound effects, stock footage, and photos on Productiontrax:

1. Know your audience, and their buying habits. This is true for any business. Multimedia producers are just as finicky as you are, and they’re more of a perfectionist than you are. They want the music they buy to be perfect, and every hit, pulse, and beep should line up perfectly with all their edit points. They want free comps to test out for days, weeks, months, until they get the rough draft just right. Then they buy.

2. Diversify and build your library. It’s true, the more you have on PT, the more you sell. But you don’t need as many as you think. Don’t upload 37,000 garbage files, because then no one will buy your stuff, and you’ll just be flooding the marketplace with useless media. Focus on quality, and create media in a wide variety of styles and genres. Challenge yourself in new areas, maybe weekly, or even daily. Take each track you write, and make a :15, :30, and:60 cut. Make a stinger. If you write one song a week, you can make it into 5 useful tracks. That’s 20 tracks a month. That’s 240 tracks a year.

3. Be patient. Building sales consistency takes time. Consider leaving your files up indefinitely – you will see the return. What is it to you anyway? It’s not like you have to sit there and stare at the screen. Just upload and forget about it. The most successful contributors have racked up tens of thousands of dollars in sales over the course of just 2 to 3 years. They simply upload a lot of good useful music, describe and keyword their files well, and then they leave it up there whether it sells or not.

4. Be aware of seasonal dips and quiet production months.Many of Productiontrax.com’s clients tend to be professional media creators, or work for businesses. This means they go on vacations. They take holidays. Think of the times of year when you’re not working, and expect those few weeks to be slow for you – but don’t think it’s a sign that you need to move on. All good things take time.

Huh, huh, huh, fire, huh, huh.

New royalty free music on Productiontrax.com this week:
Be sure to check out our featured contributor of the day on Twitter for even more great tracks!

Royalty Free Music
New Royalty Free Background Music
Need something energetic, yet unobtrusive to sit behind a narration on a podcast or business powerpoint presentation? Or maybe you need a music bed for your next advertisement? Check out these specially crafted background tracks.

Arabian/Middle-Eastern Tracks – More Affordable Than Gas
The turmoil in the Middle East is on everyone’s mind, so we’re making it easier for you to produce projects about out of control oil prices. Fill up your tank with fresh Arabian/ Middle-Eastern World grooves without having to give up a kidney.

Sound Effects
Royalty Free Comedy Sound Effects
If your jokes just aren’t as funny as our marketing people think they are, nothing says “laugh now” better than one of our thousands of comedy sound effects. From laugh tracks to boings and arruuuuuuugggaaahs, we’ve got your stand-up arsenal covered.

Stock Footage

Stock Footage: Fire

We’ve got a collection of fire video footage that will leave even Beavis and Butthead drooling. Huh, huh huh huh, huh. Add some heat to your next project with these shots in HD and SD. Fire video also makes for awesome background projections for concerts and happy hour.

Stock Photos
Get Outdoors with Naturescapes Stock Photos
Whether you’re working on a print project for nature activists, or designing a vacation activity website, these stunning hi-resolution stock photos from professional photographers around the globe will add that natural outdoorsy feel with ease. No credits, no hassles — the best stock photo deal on the planet!

DJ Elements
New DJ Elements: Loops & Beats
Keep those turntables turning with awesome new beats and loops in the Productiontrax.com DJ Elements section. Perfect for mash-ups, live events, and anything else you can think of.

Thinking of Going Exclusive? Don’t.

Thinking of going exclusive? Don’t. Exclusivity can be good for some, but for most, it’s just a bad decision. In this day and age, with all the economic uncertainty, it baffles me as to why anyone would go exclusive in anything, let alone their music licensing. Before you sign that agreement, make sure you consider the ramifications of your decision, by examining each of these points in detail, so that you don’t lose out in the long run.

1. Commission Rate Bait and Switch
Most libraries and marketplace sites offer a slightly higher commission rate if you go exclusive. Many offer between 50 and 60% as opposed to their normal 25-50%. While this seems like a good reason to go exclusive, many libraries will give you this higher rate as an introductory rate, and then lower it dramatically if your tracks don’t sell past a certain quota. Then, you’re tied into an exclusive contract and making far less money than you were originally promised.

You should diversify your sales channels for the same reason your diversify your investment portfolio. If one library tanks, or if sales patterns change, or you don’t perform as well on one, the others keep you in the game. Furthermore, you can make a higher average commission and gross income by spreading out, rather than selling in one place.

FACT: Productiontrax always pays 65% commissions on the prices YOU set.

2. Number of Sales vs. Price per Sale
Some libraries are notorious for setting low prices to gain a competitive edge. They then lock you in to exclusive contracts to sell your music for a few bucks (some as low as $1) a piece. Think about this for a second. They are giving out sync licenses (which most artists get paid THOUSANDS for) for less than $10. While they may sell more tracks (until their marketplace becomes so bloated with tracks that you might sell one a month…) your music is being devalued, and given away. You also have no control over the price of your music. The library you signed with can set any price they want, and some strategically price it just low enough that you can’t make your payout balance.

My advice, don’t sign an exclusivity agreement unless they guarantee a minimum price that you are comfortable with. Some smart copyright owners also ask for a minimum payout guarantee every month.

FACT: You control your pricing on Productiontrax. Period.

3. Hidden in the terms of service…
Read your contributor terms of service agreements carefully. Some libraries have started working with a companies like GoDigital and others to “track usage in and be appropriately compensated for internet streams”. These companies employ a technology that finds your music (that you already licensed out) in your customer’s projects. They then insert advertisements (or just claim copyright infringement) and collect revenue. This seems wonderful, until you realize that the contract you signed allows your library to keep 100% of any advertising revenue generated by your music.

Not only are you getting screwed there, with your library making tons of money without paying you a dime, but your customers are not getting what they paid for – and they are getting angry. See if they buy one of your songs again, knowing that YouTube is going to hijack their project.

FACT: Productiontrax never hides your royalties. We do not work with these “monitoring” companies, and we advocate for BOTH our clients (who are also your clients) and our artists.

4. Competition
Before going exclusive, ask yourself how big of a contributor base does the library you are signing with have? The larger the base, the harder it is for you to sell because there is more competition. That means more of the same sounding music, more choices, and lower chances of being selected. Think about it: a customer is on a huge community library with 1,000,000 artists. They look for a piece of dance music, and get your track among about 5,000 other options meeting their criteria. That gives you a 1 in 5,000 shot of selling your track to that customer. Might as well play the lottery with those odds.

If you diversify, you give yourself a greater chance of success because your music is in more places. If you are on 10 smaller libraries and each has, oh let’s say, 500 matching options for a given customer’s music search, you’ve just increased your chance of selling to 1/50.

Think about what you can do if you have 10 tracks in every category, on every site.

Diversification just makes more sense. Unless a library is making some very specific guarantees that you just can’t get anywhere else, always stay non-exclusive. This way, you stay in control of your financial future, and your hard work.

Horror Sound Effects, Family Life Stock Photos & more on Productiontrax

The Productiontrax.com team has assembled a list of the latest royalty free music, sound effects, stock footage, and photos uploaded to the Productiontrax.com library. Click here to visit Productiontrax.com
Here is a sample of the newest royalty free media on Productiontrax.com:
News & Current Affairs Music
Royalty Free Corporate Music
Horror Sound Effects
Family Life Stock Stock Photography
Latest DJ Elements
For the latest Productiontrax news and information, or to leave us comments, visit us on Facebook, Myspace, Twitter or read our blog. And don’t forget to send information about your projects to yourproject@productiontrax.com.
Thank you for your continued support of Productiontrax.com. We look forward to providing media for all your upcoming projects.