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Should You License Your Music?

music licensing

It took me a long time to convince myself that I should license my music. I struggled with a lot of issues.

  • Are my songs good enough?
  • Can I record a professional sounding track?
  • Am I a sell out?

Do these sound familiar?

So how did I finally convince myself that I should license my music?

Some people call this “imposter syndrome.” And the truth is that everyone suffers from it – even genuine pros. Just remember that everyone had to start somewhere!

How to Feel Confident in Your Songwriting

Well, first, I just kept writing songs. I wrote my first song more than 20 years ago. But that doesn’t mean that I’m an expert, or that I only write good songs, or that every (or most) songs I write are good.

What experience has given me is perspective. At least now I’ve written enough songs to know which ones are genuinely BAD. But because I’ve written enough songs, I’m not emotionally attached to these turds. I can let them rot on my hard drive and sit down and write another song.

Another way I overcame my insecurity about my songs was by taking a few that I genuinely believed were good, and putting them out there.

Sometimes it takes a really long time to sell a license to my music, but thankfully I licensed this song within about a month of uploading it to Pond 5.

This provided the positive reinforcement I needed to continue to record and upload songs.

But don’t tie too much of your self-esteem to your song sales. Some of my favorite songs have never been licensed, and some of my least favorite have been licensed repeatedly.

Go figure.

Learn to Record Professional Sounding Tracks

I had dabbled in recording for a decade, but, looking back, I never tried to get good at it. I limited myself with the mindset that I was “only recording demos” so quality didn’t really matter.

But when I got serious about trying to license my music, I realized I needed to step up my game and learn to record professional sounding songs.

Like most things in life, improving the quality of your recordings comes down to two things: knowledge and practice.

Youtube is full of great free resources on mixing and recording. I recommend the Recording Revolution, Pensado’s Place, MixBuss TV, and the Pro Audio Files. You can see all of these recommendations here on the subscriptions part of my Youtube channel.

When it comes to practicing your mixing, it all comes back to writing lots of songs. The more you write, the more songs you have to work on, the more opportunities to mix & record you have. It’s a virtuous cycle.

I’ve also gotten a ton of value from Duelling Mixes by the Graham Cochrane and Joe Gilder. Each month they give you raw stems to mix, plus they each record an hour-long, highly detailed instructional video explaining how they got their sounds. It’s great because if you get stuck on something, you can see exactly how they approached the problem.

Am I a Sellout for Wanting to License My Music?

I think this is a personal question that only you can answer.

For me, I actually felt compelled to license my music. I don’t have a record deal and I don’t have a band to play my music live.

If I want to get my music heard by a lot of people, I need to rely on a third party to promote and distribute it.

Hell, 1,000’s of potential buyers listen to my songs every month, let alone the songs that are purchased, presumably to be listened to by even more people.

So I put them out for license. Here’s how to license your first song. If you want to estimate how much you can earn from music licensing, check out this free music licensing earnings calculator.

In my mind it’s that or have 5 people a month listen on Soundcloud or Spotify.

Of course, there are certain songs that are really important or personal to me, and those I’m not going to license.

But in my mind, everything else should get out there.



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