January & February 2018 Stock Music Licensing Earnings Reports

Here is my bi-monthly(ish) stock music earnings reports for January & December 2018. You can see my previous earnings reports here. Note, this report only deals with my earnings on one site, Pond 5. It's currently my main site, but I get bits and pieces of sales here and there from time to time.

So let's get the bad news out of the way.

My January 2018 Stock Music Licensing Earnings Sucked. 

January 2018 was my worst month licensing music since.... January 2016. Now, the stock music licensing world is cyclical, and January has always been an off month. I think advertisers blow their budgets on the Christmas holidays and don't really start advertising in January. And I think everyone is also still bloated and hungover. Not ready to return to the real world.

But January 2018 saw an unprecedented plummet in music licensing earnings.

  • In December 2015 I earned $81
  • In January 2016 I earned $39 licensing stock music
  • In December 2016 I earned $302
  • In January 2017 I earned...
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Taxes for Musicians – Top Musician Tax Deductions in the U.S.

Despite everything you may hear about the death of the music industry, there's still a huge need to pay taxes for musicians. Most people with day jobs receive a W2 tax form from their employers, and their taxes are pretty straight forward. But working musicians like us also get our income reported through a Form 1099.

Basically, you pay independent contractor taxes for the music work you do.

This article will focus on the three major areas of taxes for musicians: basic background information, bookkeeping for musicians, and the top musician tax deductions. And all of this is only for American musicians. I literally have no idea about any other country, so if you're not from the U.S., you may want to find help elsewhere. 

All tax payers are required to pay three different taxes to the IRS - FICA Social Security, FICA Medicare, and Income tax. The two FICA taxes are non-negotiable - all tax payers everywhere pay 15.3% of their income into FICA.

If you're an employee, your employer...

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How to Produce One Song a Week

At the end of the day, music licensing is a numbers game.  You need to produce one song a week. The more songs you have out there, the more likely you are to have the right song for the right client. Having more songs means your songs are more likely to be found by prospective clients, and it also means that there are more songs that might fit a specific need.

Plus, the more frequently you write songs, the faster you'll start to improve! 

But having more songs means writing and recording more songs!

And that takes time. I don't know about you, but I never seem to have enough of it.

Over the past few years I've been thinking hard about how I can finish more songs. And that's lead me to a bit of an assembly line process.

If you want to license your first song in the next 5 days, check out this free mini course.

How I FINISH One Song a Week

The first thing to remember is that the goal isn't to just have recordings on your hard drive. You actually need to FINISH your songs. It's...

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Recommended Recording Equipment

Since some of you have asked, here is the gear I use, I’ve found everything on here to work well for me and would recommend all of it. After a lot of trial and error and money wasted on gear that I didn’t use, I’ve settled on the following selection of music equipment.

Note that some of these may contain affiliate links. But that doesn’t influence my decision to use these.

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BMI 3rd Quarter 2017 Royalty Report

Holy smokes! I earned nearly $1,900 in back end performance royalties for the 3rd quarter of 2017!!! Now, I've been making about $300/mo through my licensing income through upfront sync fees, but the ability to basically QUADRUPLE my earnings through performance royalties is shocking.

(If you want to get started on license your music, you can watch this 15 minute video basically giving you an overview of the whole thing.)

This is my first quarter with significant back end royalties. I earned about $1,850 from Romania (no, I have no idea what show or why), and another $23 from sales broadcast in the U.S. on the Outdoor Network.

The most remarkable thing is that this is one of my worst songs. I previously published a post about how shocked I was that one of my least favorite songs had earned me $200 in upfront fees. Well now it's become my highest earning song, hands down.

I earned all of this money through my performing rights organization (PRO), BMI.com.  


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Audio Jungle vs Pond 5 (best site to sell music for beginners)

Today I'm going to be doing a tell you about the two best sites to sell music for beginners.  When it comes to licensing music online, there's only two sites that beginners should consider:  Pond 5 and/or AudioJungle.

So I've done posts in the past reviewing both Pond 5 and AudioJungle from the perspective of a songwriter looking to sell stock music online

But this post is a little different.

Here, I'm trying to help you figure out sort of what are the actual differences between the two of them. This way you can better allocate your time to making music and spend less time uploading!

The Best Site to Sell Music for Beginners ain't gonna be the same for everyone

The first thing I'm going to say as a preface is there are a lot of other sites out there for selling stock music that could be good for you but this is really tailored to people that are beginning to look into selling stock.

These other sites could be good for established musicians that have a deep catalog of high...

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BMI 2018 1st Quarter Earnings Report

Today I want to talk about my 2018 first quarter BMI royalty payments. But let's begin in the recent past...  in the 3rd quarter of the year I made about eighteen hundred dollars, off of mostly one song which was played in Romania.

A lot.

I don't know the source or anything like that. I just get a check from Romania. Awesome.

The 4th quarter of 2018 I got about 200 bucks from that Romania thing and another song of mine had been included on a show on the outdoor network it is. And so they had played that a few times and so I got like five or six bucks from that. 


Now in the 1st quarter of 2018 I've got some really exciting news for you....  So drum roll please.

How Much Did I Earn?

I made seven dollars in 19 cents from my royalties.

That's right.

Seven dollars and 19 cents.

And to be honest I'm totally OK with that, because I can't control how people are going to be using my music.

 I can just keep creating more and more music and putting it out...

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Pond 5 Music Licensing Side Hustle Earnings October 2018

October 2018 was a pretty good month of music licensing for me. I earned more than $270 on Pond 5 from my music licensing side hustle. 

At the beginning of 2018, I took several of my best selling songs off of Pond 5 to put them exclusive on another site. And for most of 2018, I’ve been ignoring Pond 5 to submit songs to exclusive libraries and to upload my existing songs on some other sites (I’ll update you on these pursuits when I have more data to say if it’s worth your while). 

So most of 2018 has been slow. But I finally started uploading to Pond 5 again in September, and quickly saw my earnings start to grow again.

Sound effects contributed to my October 2018 music licensing earnings.

Want to license your music? Learn how you can license your first song in 5 days!

As you can see, I had one really big day where I earned $60 from three sales. A lot of days where I sold a couple of songs. And then there’s a bunch of small days where I was selling...

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December 2018 & February 2019 Stock Music Earnings Report

It’s been a wild ride. Here’s my earnings reports for my music licensing side hustle on Pond 5 during December of 2018 and February 2019.

Over the years that I’ve been doing this, I’ve noticed that the business is highly cyclical, and this is the time of year when things really whipsaw. People blow their budgets leading up to December, and it takes a few months for things to return to normal. Which is unfortunate, but it’s part of the game.

December 2018 was one of my best months of licensing stock music. I sold $317+ of music on Pond 5, and this result was thanks in large part to having some good holiday music in my catalog. Having holiday music can be a good way to ride the cyclical wave. It was a month of pretty consistent sales, which is always how I prefer to see things go. Surprisingly, I sold some sound effects for big money (like nearly $40!).

If you didn’t know, Pond 5 offers several different types of licenses, with the more...

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What a Music Licensing Side Hustle Looks Like

Over the past three years, I’ve gone from knowing nothing about the music business to building a music licensing side hustle that’s earned me over $10,000! I did all this part time, from the “comfort” of my studio (read: living room). And I have no connections, no incredible talents, and pretty simple gear. 

So how did I do it? How do you make money licensing music?

The Start of My Side Hustle

Well, first I made a ton of mistakes. It was a learning process, and I was hurt a lot along the way after having my songs rejected from sites. But I knew I loved making music, and I was going to make it whether I got paid or not.

By the way, if you want to start applying this as your music side hustle, check out this free five-day music licensing crash course.

So the first thing I did is look for the best site to license my music on. I wasn’t good enough to be on a really professional site, but I didn’t want to be selling my songs for $4 on a site...

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How To Make Money as Musician by Pursuing Your Passion

This 5-day mini course will show you exactly how to launch a music licensing side hustle so that you can finally get paid for your music!