ArchiveCategory Archives for "Blog"
A blog dedicated to teaching you how to license your music online.
A blog dedicated to teaching you how to license your music online.
Having played music for 20+ years, I can say that these are the best gifts for musicians, hands down.
These are tools I use every day to make hundreds of dollars licensing my music.
Most of these gifts are biased towards guitar players, but there’s plenty of affordable gifts for all types of musicians.
So whether you’re shopping for a birthday gift for a musician, a Christmas present for musicians, Hanukkah, or just a thank you, check out these presents. They’re arranged by budget. Under $20, under $100, and $100+. But there’s something for all budgets.
These are also great birthday gifts for musicians, because most musicians neglect to take care of their gear as much as they should.
While some of them may not seem “sexy,” a lot of these gifts are the sort of thing gift a musician would never buy for themselves. They’re high quality and I’ve personally used most of them or have friends that would swear by them. So the musician in your life will really thank you for your thoughtfulness!
There’s actually a lot of great music gear under $20. It’s not at all sexy, but these are the things that really do make a difference!
An essential tool for electric and acoustic guitar players and bassists, these keep your guitar from falling off while you play. The great thing about these rubber ones is that they work incredibly well, but don’t require any installation!
Keyboards, guitars, basses, djs… really all musicians deal with frustrating cables all day. And they get tangled just like your headphones.
Do your favorite musician a favor and give them one of the best gifts around – cable organizers. Multiple colors makes it easy to tell cables apart at a glance! They cost less than $10 and make great stocking stuffers for musicians.
Losing your hearing, developing tinnitus, and having ringing in your ears sucks. Most people think it will never happen to them.
But it’s not true.
I’m 34 and I already have a “good ear” and a “bad ear.” I’ve worn my share of ear plugs, but I’m still in trouble.
Do the musician in your life a favor and give them the gift of high quality ear plugs that don’t reduce sound quality too much.
These here are some of the best gifts for musicians under $100. You can buy some really great gear in this price range.
A direct injection box is useful for gigging musicians and recording musicians. Whether they play guitar, keyboard, or bass, a DI box allows you to eliminate hum from your signal, boost a guitar to be compatible with a mixer-level signal, and convert 1/4″ cables to XLR, for better fidelity over long range.
A DI box has saved my butt on several gigs. Highly recommended.
These are super handy to record your live shows, demos, and practices. Unlike your smartphone, pocket recorders are built with heavy-duty gear, able to sustain loud music and still sound clear and undistorted. They also record in stereo, for a much wider sound footprint.
My band uses my Tascam DR-05 every couple of weeks to record our practice and keep ourselves honest. It’s a must have.
Most guitar players, bassists, and even keyboardists spend a lot of money on pedals, but instead of buying a nice power supply, they are constantly throwing away money on new batteries. Or they’ve got wires everywhere with individual power supplies for every pedal. So do them a favor and gift them a high-quality power hum-free power supply. They’ll thank you.
And as an added bonus, a hum-free power supply is an ecologically friendly gift because they won’t need to go through batteries!
I know so many musicians that have skimped on a good tuning pedal. It’s a terrible idea. Every guitar player and bassist should own one. Not only do they help you stay in tune, they also act as a “mute” button so that the audience doesn’t get annoyed while you tune up. Pro-tip: be sure to get one that is bright enough to be seen when playing outdoors, though (for example, the Boss pedal is more popular, but trust – it’s not bright enough to see outside)!
So the best gift for one musician may not be the best gift for another. I’m not going to recommend many instruments, but here are a few utilitarian gifts that I have really enjoyed.
Whether or not the musician in your life is a singer, at some point they’re going to want a microphone.
Maybe they want to record their guitar.
Maybe a singer friend is coming over and they want to record that.
Or perhaps when playing live they’ll sing a little back up vocals. Or maybe when playing live the need to mic their guitar amp to be louder.
You will never regret having a microphone.
And the Shure SM57 is a work horse that sounds good and will last a lifetime. They’ll also need a mic stand and some cables, so you can save some money by buying the whole package together.
Good headphones make a great birthday present or holiday gift because they help musicians listen to music more clearly. They’re absolutely essential if a musician does any home recording.
Plus, you’re less likely to be annoyed hearing them play the same song over and over again. So really, nice headphones aren’t just a great gift for musicians, they’re a great gift for you!
Guitar players and bassists will love a pedal board. It’s the perfect place to store all of their pedals. It’s portable for easy jamming. And with a pedal board, there won’t be a mess. Something a parents and significant others will greatly appreciate.
A pedal board is another total win win.
If you want to learn how to write a song, the first thing you’ll need is a *strong* intro. As the saying goes, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression,” and that’s as true in song writing as it is in anything else. In fact, as I’ve said in my tips for tips to write a song that sells, having a strong intro is one of the major factors in success.
This is one of the key things I reveal in my free video on how to license music.
Just think about it. People’s attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. There’s literally 1000’s of songs being uploaded every day. If people don’t like what they hear in the first few seconds, they may not wait around until the better parts of your songs.
That’s why you’ve got to learn how to write an intro to your songs.
Now I’m going to give you guys a template with 5 different styles of intro you can use for writing that killer intro.
These techniques have gotten my songs placed on NPR and on National TV, among other spots.
Are you ready to learn how to write a song that instantly grabs your listener’s attention?
Great! But before we go further, I usually write the intro to the song last! Because ultimately, the intro has to fit the song, not the other way around.
This technique is great for electronic music and for hip hop. For example, you can hear Daft Punk doing this ALL of the time.
Basically, what you do is you “sample” the verse or the chorus of your song, select a little chunk of it, and then line them up together in little segments that get shorter and shorter.
Here’s how you can do it for hip hop.
And here’s an example of how you can do the Daft Punk style build up.
Using these techniques will instantly bring energy to your songs. They also work great for breakdowns, buildups, and bridges.
This style of intro involves creating an artificial soundscape that’s interesting, then slowly fading your song into it. This is great for bring the listener’s attention to the song, and much more powerful than just a straight fade in.
You can use this with almost any genre, from rock to EDM to hip hop.
Hear how the cacophony of the jungle gives way to the energy of the samba? Trust me when I say that this is 10x more powerful than just starting with the song itself. Of course, you still need to know how to write a song, but the soundscape helps place it in context.
This technique probably will require you to use some extra samples to get the ambiance right. But don’t fret – here’s a list of some of the best sites for free music samples!
This intro style probably works best with electronic music, though it also fits well with pop. Basically, you put a high pass and a low pass filter on your master bus and slowly decrease the amount of filtering as the song builds up.
You can hear an example of this (and the 1st & 2nd style, all combined!) in the song Digital Love off of Daft Punk’s Discovery. I highly recommend listening to this album a thousand times to learn all sorts of great production tips.
Yep. That’s how you write a great intro.
This 4th intro style relies on the art of surprise. Basically, you use a weird instrument or effect to kick things off, and that grabs the listener’s attention.
You can hear how this royalty free disco funk song starts with a highly processed drum beat that would be annoying if played for much longer, but it’s also weird enough to be interesting. It’s yet another way how to write a song intro.
If you’ve got an energetic upbeat song, then one of the best ways to start it is by just coming in hot! Start with a huge drum fill or searing guitar solo to instantly grab your listener’s attention. You can back it off from there, but it’s a great way of putting your best foot forward, especially if you know how to write songs that can maintain a high energy level throughout, but also have dynamic verses and choruses. This is especially good for fast paced classic rock music.
Ready to start putting these tips into practice? Learn how to start licensing your music today!
If you’re interested in licensing your music, here are some secrets for a song that sells! Check out these five simple tips that will make your songs instantly more marketable to start earning a passive income by selling your music.
Most successful songs used in licensing are short. Keep it around 30 seconds. Usually, the buyers of stock music are looking to establish a mood quickly and move on.
Just watch HGTV, the Discovery Channel, A&E, whatever. On those shows, songs play for 5-10 seconds before moving on.
Same with commercials, Youtube videos, and corporate scenes. Most buyers aren’t looking for an extensive montage.
Good production music tells a story efficiently in its short time span. You should force yourself to write a beginning, middle and end into your song. Take the listener on an evolving journey.
How do you do that?
Well the first step is to remember that you’ve only got a little bit of time to grab a buyer’s attention, so start on the right foot! Whether it’s an energetic rock ‘n roll drum fill to start the songs or a sad melancholy piano chord, don’t leave the listener guessing.
From the first note to the last note, your stock music songs should establish a mood. Just because it’s a short song, but that doesn’t mean it should be devoid of emotional content!
Think of a mood and craft your song specifically around that. Here are some ideas for moods that you can experiment with:
As a song writer, I’ve found that trying to write songs in different moods can be uniquely rewarding and challenging.
But it’s not just about the notes, it’s also about choosing the right instruments and production vibe. It would be weird to use an accordion in a death metal song, and it would be equally strange to make a hip hop song that sounds like it was recorded on an old vinyl record from the 1920s.
There’s a reason that everyone knows the phrase: “End on a high note.”
It’s because you should always leave a strong last impression!
It’s just human nature to tie our memories strongly to the most recent memory. For a listener, that’s going to be the end of your song.
You always want the last note of your royalty free music to be interesting. Whether it’s a chord that resolves things, or adds a touch of dissonance, whether a sudden stop or an interesting drum fill, I’d strongly encourage you to put a lot of thought in to your endings.
If you ever need any inspiration, just check out the Beatles. They were the masters of about a million things, but endings were one of their strong points.
For the perfect ending, check out “A Day in the Life” off of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
You don’t need to be making Grammy-worthy recordings to license your music. But you do need clean, professional sounding audio. I’ve licensed plenty of songs with recordings that are far from perfect. Just don’t let the production distract from the song, and you’ll be fine.
Clean up any flub, remove any harsh frequencies, and set levels in such a way that the emotion and energy of the song are clearly conveyed. Make sure the overall mix is balanced across the frequency spectrum, and that there aren’t too many wide dynamic shifts.
When it comes to mastering, you don’t need to participate in the “loudness wars.” Just make it a reasonable volume. If a client needs your stock music to be louder, she can always turn it up in her video production software.
Looking for a new bass?
I’m not going to bury the lede in my Eastwood Classic 4 bass review: it’s a very good, unique bass for its price ($549), but probably won’t be your main bass. In short, there are so many things to like about Eastwood Guitar’s Classic IV bass, from its great semi-hollow body look to its round, thumping tone. But there are also some issues with build quality and, for me personally, playability.
First a little background on me: I’ve played bass for about 20 years, and owned an Epiphone, a Gibson, and a couple of Fenders. My current main bass for gigging is an American-made Fender Hot-Rodded P-Bass with EMG Active electronics. It’s a discontinued model, but I absolutely love it.
However, I was looking to add something a little different to my collection, so I started exploring semi-hollow body basses. I’ve owned my Classic 4 at least a year, so I feel comfortable giving a detailed Eastwood Classic 4 bass review. Before buying it, I also tried out the Epiphone “Jack Casady” Signature Semi-Hollowbody Bass and the Fender Modern Player Coronado semi-hollow body. In my opinion, not only are they both more expensive, they both left something to be desired in terms of tone. And both were more expensive.
In you’re interested in hearing the bass in action, here is some audio of me demoing and reviewing the Classic IV. The bass was recorded clean, directly into my DAW without amp emulation or any special pre-amps or processing.
Ok, let’s dive in.
The first thing to notice about the East Classic 4 is that its a hollow body bass guitar with a shorter scale. It retails for $549, direct from Eastwood. If you enjoy the look and feel of semi-hollow bodies, than you should definitely consider this one.
The Classic 4 features 2 EW retro pickups and they sound great. Its tone is low, warm, and growly, with a little punch. I would describe it as very “round.” And it’s the type of sound that excels in classic rock, country or soul.
However, it has very little “bite” or “cut,” and would not get through a mix in a harder rock or punk setting.
The Eastwood Classic 4 also features a three way pickup selector switch, with independent volume knobs for each pick up, and a tone knob. I don’t find the tone knob to be that effective at shaping the tone, but the pick up selection definitely makes a big impact.
My Eastman Classic IV bass review has to note that the build quality is generally good. With especially good work on the bindings and the neck. However, one of the screws in my front pickup is stripped, causing it to pop loose sometimes. This effects both the playability and the tone, because sometimes it will actually hit the strings.
As for playability, it plays very well, objectively. The fret board is fast and even, and the strings are light and responsive. You can bend notes for days. And the string spacing is very comfortable. Due to the Eastwood Classic IV’s easy playability, I think it would probably make a perfect bass for a guitar player who was looking to grab a bass, or for someone with smaller hands.
However, it is not the type of play style that I prefer. I like a bass that is sturdy and pushes back. I find it really hard to play ghost notes and more muted, funk type phrases on the Eastwood Classic 4. It’s simply too forgiving and easy for me to play.
It’s kind of like the difference between a sports car and a sedan. The sports car is harder to drive, but you can feel the road and tear up the highway way more.
And just as a note to this Eastwood Classic 4 bass review: it really does not work well with slap and popping techniques. But to be fair, I don’t think it was in anyway designed for that.
The bass feels very well balanced when sitting down. However, standing up with a strap, it gets a little wobbly.
This is a great bass for the price, and I plan on keeping it. I do genuinely enjoy playing it, and have used it on recordings that have been used by some big name clients. I don’t think I’d use it for gigging, though. It just feels more fragile than a solid body bass (and there are some clumsy mother suckers in my band). BTW, it does not come with a case. And it doesn’t fit into a standard bass case.
I also just want to give a shout out to Eastwood Guitars for making a left-handed version.
The only thing better than good samples are good free samples or free loops. Don’t worry. I’ve done the digging for you to find the best sites for free samples & free loops.
Since rap exploded on to the music scene, the use of loops and samples has become ubiquitous in all genres.
Whether we’re talking about pop music, rock, hip hop, or EDM, there is always a place for samples .
For example, in rock recordings, producers often layer the sound of real drums with sampled kicks and snares. Electronic music has relied on vocal samples and percussion loops since nearly the beginning.
Of course, samples and loops can be expensive. And that’s not to say that they’re not worth it. I’ve pick up some absolutely amazing sample packs over the years that were worth every penny.
But sometimes money is tight. Or maybe you don’t feel like you need an entire sample pack, just a sound or two.
Whether you’re looking for a song starter, a banging drum loop, or some horn samples, this list of the 6 best sites for free samples and loops will get you making music in no time. Some of these sites are a little on the obscure side, but if it sounds good, it is good.
Some of the links below may be affiliate links.
Ready to learn the secrets to how musicians earn passive income these days? Passive income used to be the cornerstone of the music biz.
When you think about the golden age of the music industry, musicians would earn passive income all the time. It's why Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson became billionaires.
And it can be summed up in one, simple, magic word: ROYALTIES.
Think about it earning passive income as a musician like this:
Now, that's slightly simplified, but it's the basics. Keep reading to see how to get your piece of the pie.
Nonetheless, there are still good ways to earn passive income through your music. It just revolves around stock music licensing instead of selling music to fans (who you let stream the music for free).
These days, everyone online is talking about passive income. Most always it seems like some get rich quick scheme.
The fact is though, successfully licensing music is a time-honored profession that takes a lot of work. In fact, it's more like a proven "get a decent side hustle income slowly" scheme.
But once you put in the work, you can reap the rewards for 70 years or more.
Just remember – a grand don’t come for free.
Passive income means that you invest your time upfront creating value. In other words, you “work hard now to continue to reap the benefits later,” as Pat Flynn, the famed internet entrepreneur says.
In short, with passive income, you stop trading your time for money.
Here’s how passive income works for me. I went on vacation at the end of May. I didn’t record any new songs. Nonetheless, every few days – even when chilling on the beach in San Diego eating amazing burritos – I received an email saying that someone had licensed one of the songs from my back catalog.
It’s totally possible to earn passive income as a musician while sitting on the beach eating burritos.
Because I put in the hard work over the past year, I was able to continue to make sales & earn passive income even while visiting my family.
But I don’t want you to think that this was easy or overnight. I mean, I’ve spent thousands of hours practicing guitar, piano, and bass. I’ve probably spent another thousand hours writing songs and learning how to record & mix.
And that was all just for background. That’s the work I had to put in to get to the point where I can start to work easily as a stock music musician.
Then, any one song took me 15-20 hours to write and record. Most songs might never even get licensed!
Hint: one of the best ways to be successful is to cut down on the time it takes you to finish a track.
Sometimes, it takes a year to sell. Maybe more.
But don’t let that discourage you! Follow my simple road map and anyone with a modicum of talent can start licensing their songs.
This is not a get rich quick scheme. It’s just a new marketplace for selling a traditional service provided by the professional jingle writers of yore.
It makes sense that this is growing, though.
Back in the day, they didn’t need as much audio content.
In the 1970s there were four or five TV channels in the developed world and maybe a couple dozen radio stations. Today, there are hundreds of different TV channels in more than 100 countries, dozens of radio stations, digital radio, millions of Youtube creators, videogames, and apps. And more and more I foresee a need for music for narrowcast streaming services like periscope and twitch.
Demand will keep up with supply.
Marketplaces like Pond 5 allow you to market a skillset you’ve honed over your lifetime.
Earning passive income from your music is just a way of transmuting years of discipline and craft into a marketable product.
10 years ago, the opportunity to earn passive income from music royalties was available only to established songwriters. But now the internet and cheap recording software/hardware have democratized the opportunities to create your music.
Hell, even 15 years ago, you would be lucky to spend $1,000 to record an EP, then hope some friends bought it at a gig. Now, with as little as $300 worth of recording equipment and a computer, you can record unlimited professional sounding songs.
You can put these up on the internet and distribute them to a vast market place of buyers.
You can get paid for doing something you love. Whether you use the passive income you earn from licensing your music for paying your bills or buying more gear, I think you’ll be amazed at what selling your music does for you.
I sell my music online. Because of the way copyright works in the United States, I (and my children, and my children’s children) can earn money on my songs for my entire lifetime, plus 70 years! Thanks Congress!
Now, that doesn’t mean that 100 years from now anyone will want to buy my music. I mean, seriously, how many 100 year old recordings do you listen to? And it doesn’t mean that the stock music marketplaces, like Pond 5, will be in business 100 years from now.
But I think it’s safe to say that for at least the next 5 or 10 years, I will earn $1,000’s of dollars a year license my music, even if I don’t record another song.
And I have no intention of stopping.
It was the best of sites, it was the worst of sites. It was the most popular of sites, and the stingiest of sites. It was the most creative of sites, and the most dickish of sites.
Ok, pardon my Dickensian introduction.
I got my first sales ever on Audio Jungle, with this chill dub song. I was super, super stoked. In fact, I’ve sold it repeatedly. So Audio Jungle has a special place in my heart as my first. Thank you, Audio Jungle.
But like many "firsts," that special place is also full of a lot of frustration and pain.
Full of a lot of mixed feelings about Audio Jungle. So even though there’s money to be made on Audio Jungle, I cross the street when I see it coming while looking nervously down at my phone.
Here’s why. If you're interested in how AudioJungle compares to my favorite site, Pond 5, check out this article.
Just a note – Audio Jungle does not give me any fees for referring artists. This is my honest to goodness warts and all review based on my experience as an artist on Audio Jungle. However, I do earn a referral feel from any purchases people make on Audio Jungle. But almost every major stock music site offers referrals).
Audio Jungle clearly has a huge market of buyers, which makes it a great place for sellers to sell. If you can get your songs up, you'll probably get lucky.
It has a really attractive layout and is super easy to navigate.
Plus it allows musicians to customize their pages and songs in all sorts of ways. And every Audio Jungle review should note that it includes a lot of wonderful social media features that give musicians the ability to create their own song packs and sell different types of licenses.
I know a lot of folks that swear by Audio Jungle. But for me, it’s not worth the effort because…
You've dreamed about being a musician all your life. Sign up for the free course to get started learning the secrets for your music licensing journey.
As an artist, I get the feeling that Audio Jungle is trying to bully me into meek acceptance of its terrible behavior. It’s like it gets off on being withholding. Like it only hurts musicians because it cares.
Let’s start with payout. If you’re a non-exclusive author, Audio Jungle offers you about 36% of the sale price, compared to the industry-standard 50% you see on sites like Pond 5, Audio Micro, and Production Trax. Update October 2019 - Pond 5 has also moved to a lower payout ratio of 35/65 in Pond 5's favor, so this makes AudioJungle a little more appealing.
If you give up your rights to sell your song on other platforms, than Audio Jungle boost the payout to 60%, which is nice. But then you’re tied to Audio Jungle forever. But what if it goes out of business or stops being popular with buyers? What happens to your catalog then? What if some hot new startup pops up and everyone is selling there?
Audio Jungle sets the price of your files without giving you any control. These prices are some of the lowest in the industry, at $19. Now some authors on Pond 5 sell themselves short and price their songs at $15, but they’re being fools. But it's their choice.
Update November 2018: AudioJungle now let's you set the price of your songs.
I mean, us musicians know that some of our songs are crap. But we pour our hearts and souls in to writing and performing most of our music.
Now Audio Jungle’s low standard price is offset, somewhat, but Audio Jungle offering multiple types of licenses, some of which do pay out WAY more. For example, a full music & film broadcast license costs $300+.
But to add insult to injury, with Audio Jungle, you are not allowed to register your songs with a performance rights organization, like ASCAP or BMI. This means that if your song is ever broadcast, you miss out on the opportunity to collect performance royalties.
Next, Audio Jungle has terrible standards of review that I can't come close to figuring out. They weed out some bad stuff, sure. But they rejected this energetic rock song which I’ve licensed on Pond 5 a bunch of times.
Update November 2018: I've literally earned hundreds of dollars from this song on Pond 5.
Of course, strict reviews wouldn’t be so bad, if it wasn’t such a terrible, massive pain in the ass to upload your files to Audio Jungle.
For each song (or edit of a song), you have to create your own version with an Audio Jungle watermark, and also create a .zip file. When an average song could have 5 or 6 edited versions, it just ain’t worth my time. I haven't seen these absurd, archaic requirements on any other site.
In sum my Audio Jungle review is this: if you’re ok gambling you’re time away formatting files in the hopes of having songs accepted, you will probably make a little money from those songs. Personally, though, I’d rather spend that time making music.
Anybody have any different thoughts on Audio Jungle?
I'll add that if you want to make corporate music, AudioJungle is probably a decent platform for you, but not great for any other style.
Update November 2018: Base on most of the comments I've received below and on Youtube, most musicians feel that Audio Jungle isn't worth the effort.
You've dreamed about being a musician all your life. Sign up for the free course to get started learning the secrets for your music licensing journey.
What if I told you that music pays my bills?
Imagine if you could pay your bills as a musician through the money you earned selling your music?
Or if you made enough money selling music to donate to your favorite charity?
Imagine if you had a little extra money left over at the end of the month to buy a pitcher for your friends?
Well here’s how. Licensing your music is not rocket science. It’s earned me over $10,000, and I’m just an average guy working part time making music in his living room.
Here’s a quick video about what I do.
Honestly, that’s the hardest part. I struggled so much with whether or not I should license my music. I was worried about whether it was good enough. I was worried about being a sellout. I was lazy.
I was scared.
Since I started selling music online last year, I’m now able to consistently pay my bills for my major expenses each month (I’ve earned as much as $2,000 in one lucky month). And there’s always some extra money left over to donate to charity.
It’s not like I’m going to retire on this anytime soon. But the passive income I earn from licensing my music pays for my electric bill (why does that always seem to be going up?), my water bill (why does that always seem to be going up?), my cable bill (why does that always seem to be going up?), and my internet bill (why does it always seem to go up?).
(Also, to be clear, I’m not talking about some anthropomorphized version of music coming to life, logging on to my bank account every month, and making sure that the cable company hasn’t overcharged me before cutting a check, automatically, to each company. That is not how music pays my bills!)
It feels great to know that month in, month out, I have enough money coming in to not to have to worry about these bills. And having another source of income allows me to relax more and focus on song writing and performance. In fact, once you start selling stock music, you’ll find it creates an incentive more songwriting and music production!
Imagine if you weren’t completely dependent on your job. Instead you earned multiple streams of income.
Month in, month out music pays my bills or music pays for my gear.
And that’s why I’ve created these detailed monthly earnings reports to demonstrate how music pays my bills. I want to show you that licensing your music is a real job, and that there are tangible rewards if you put your mind to it (in addition to the reward of getting spend time making music!).
In addition, I always first I set aside 10% to donate to a charity. Being paid to make music is a gift. I still can’t believe it, sometimes. Being fortunate enough to get paid to make art is a gift that I feel obligated to reciprocate (that’s also part of the reason why I made this site).
So come on, I challenge you to do even better a selling your music online than I have. This video will walk you through the process.
Start small, and keep writing music.
Take that first action step right now.
Head over to Pond 5 and sign up for an account.
I sell music online on several websites, but in this Pond 5 review, I want to share why it is the best site for me to sell stock music. And the only stock music site I’d wholly recommend for musicians.
First, a little background before jumping into my Pond 5 review. I joined Pond 5 around April 2015. I licensed my first royalty free song, an energetic classic blues rock intro, for $15. However, I've raised the prices now that I actually understand the value of my songs. Sales slowly trickled in and started building from there.
Since then, I’ve made over a $1,000 selling music on Pond 5. Lately, I've been averaging about $200 every month. And I've earned over $300 a month and with total earnings over $4,000. (Updated June, 2017).
I've now earned nearly $10,000 through sales on Pond 5 (updated November 2018).
You can check out one of my detailed earnings reports here.
Just a note – Pond 5 does not give me any fees for referring artists. This is my honest to goodness warts and all review based on my experience as an artist on Pond 5. However, I do earn a referral feel from any purchases people make on Pond 5. But almost every major stock music site offers referrals).
Now that you know a bit about my relationship with Pond 5, what follows is my Pond 5 review based on my experiences selling music online.
A major factor for choosing to sell music on Pond 5 is that there is a large market of serious buyers. That means that when I upload good music to Pond 5, it will sell. I’ve uploaded the same version of songs to other sites, where they’ve got lots of views but no purchases. So if you’re serious about selling music online, you need to work with a website full of serious buyers. If I had to guess, I'd say a good song gets a sale for every 20 to 25 views on Pond 5.
On other sites, like Audiomicro, the same song has had 200+ views without a single sale.
And what Pond 5 review would be complete without noting that Pond 5 offers artists a 50-50 split of the revenue.
In the summer of 2019, Pond 5 announced that it would be lower its revenue split with musicians. Now, instead of making a 50-50 split, artists will only keep 35% of the sales. This is a major blow and a thoroughly negative development. No way to spin it well.
Plus, buyers are supposed to file cue sheets, which means artists should earn broadcast royalties (what are these - click here to learn about the royalty types?), if applicable.
I've earned about $3,000 from these broadcast royalties (updated October 2019).
Pond 5 has also announced the launch of Pond 5 publishing, which will handle some of the publishing work for artists. However, I think Pond 5 Publishing is a terrible idea for artists. For my full take on why Pond 5 Publishing is a bad idea, check out this article. (updated October 2019)
Another major factor in choosing to license my music on Pond 5 is that the website is easy to use for musicians. You can batch upload your songs (and Pond 5’s server is fast, usually). You can also use batch templates, and make batch edits to songs quickly and easily. Pond 5 automatically inserts watermarks so you don’t have to waste time (I’m looking at YOU AudioJungle).
Pond 5 also includes a suite of artist friendly resources, like this blog and it also offers artists extensive data on sales trends. And Pond 5 does not require an exclusive license, meaning you can also sell your music on other websites.
It also allows you to set the price of your songs.
Pond 5 has friendly and responsive customer service and active forums. It seems to be working more and more to improve the artist experience.
When it comes to Pond 5’s standards of review, I think it's pretty fair. It's not uncommon for Pond 5 to reject junk and some average music that’s in an over-saturated category (like shitty ukulele music). But good music always makes it through. Recently I've heard from some readers that Pond 5 is tightening it's standards, but I haven't experienced it (updated November 2018).
Pond 5 also provides the best statistics on listens, likes, and add to carts This allows artists to see how buyers are reacting to our own songs.
Update November 2018: I'v had my songs placed on multiple TV shows, an award winning indie short, and a Netflix documentary through Pond 5, which I think is super cool!
So that’s the good stuff.
My major gripe with the site is that it allows artists very little control over our portfolios and songs. Contrast that with the way AudioJungle allows artists to create all sorts of on site content. I think it’s fair to say that Pond 5 offers only an average amount of creative control.
I really appreciate that Pond 5 gives musicians the freedom to set the price of our music. However, it would be nice to have the option of setting the price for multiple types of licenses (individual, commercial, broadcast). I think this would be better for buyers and sellers. It looks like Pond 5 is heading in this direction, though, so I may have to update my Pond 5 review. Update November 2018 - Pond 5 has created new license types that a based off of the initial price you set.
The Pond 5 review time fluctuates. In my experience, music usually gets approved in less than two weeks, and often in just a few days. Sound effects, however, can languish for months. It’s been a growing problem. As an established artists, it’s only mildly frustrating, but if I was new to the business, I’d probably find it infuriating.
In sum, though, I’m incredibly comfortable using Pond 5. It’s an easy friendly service to rely on. The rewards (financial and in terms of exposure) are there.
Even despite the fact that royalty rates are falling, I still think that Pond 5 is the best site for beginners to start licensing their music. But more experienced musicians really need need to move beyond Pond 5 as soon as they can.
Some competitor stock music sites, like AudioJungle, are a pain in the ass to use and offer artists paltry payouts. Other royalty free music sites, like Production Trax or Audiomicro, are easy to use, but don’t lead to any sales.
So instead of wasting much time on the other sites, I spend the time writing and recording new music. Then I upload to it to Pond 5.
Plus, Pond 5 does a good job of fostering a community of musicians and artists, which makes the process more inspiring.
So what are you waiting for? Start licensing your music today!!!
Selling songs online is much easier than you think. It’s not a “get rich quick” or a road to instant fame, but if you keep at it, you will find success.
But up until a year ago, I didn’t have a clue where to start or what to do. I had some vague notion along the lines of
Don’t worry though, I’m here to show you what I’ve learned about selling royalty free music.
So let’s break out the steps of the process and build you a quick road map to get you started with stock music licensing.
These are the steps. We’ll dig into them in a moment.
That’s it! If you'd rather watch a video on the details, click here.
Licensing your music online is both easy and incredibly hard. Hundreds of books have been written about each of these topics, and I’m sure hundreds more will be written in the future.
I also plan, to write more about them, but for now, let me throw and a few tips for each, specifically as they relate to selling stock songs online.
Successful stock music tends to have two traits. First, stock music that sells maintains a consistent emotion and tone. If it’s a dramatic classical piece, it should remain a dramatic classical piece. If it’s energetic funky hip hop, then don’t mix it up with a weird interlude.
Second, (most) stock music the sells well is either a short 20-30 second piece of music that tells a story with an intro, body, and conclusion. Here are five tips for writing a great song intro.
If your focused on selling your songs, then when you record, the main thing to focus on is avoiding “distracting” sounds and performances. You want to avoid harsh resonances and feedback (unless the song calls for it). In other words, you want a nice clean performance.
Just put yourself in the shoes of a buyer – they’re probably buying production music to play in the background. You don’t need to worry that you can’t capture pristine sounds like Nigel Goodrich, you just need to be good enough to get a clear, clean recording. That way, viewers focus on the message without getting distracted by the song.
Looking at the marketplace of people selling songs, you don’t need to have a very good mix or loud mastering to successfully sell lots of stock music. But it doesn’t hurt.
With mixing, focus on getting the levels right, and cleaning up mud and harshness. If you know what you’re doing and you’re good at it, then by all means do your thing.
If you don’t have a clue how to mix, there are a lot of great resources (some free) to teach you how. Check out Youtube or The Recording Revolution. But for now, just commit to getting a little better with each song.
And you’re probably better off using compression and reverb VERY sparingly until you’ve gotten the hang of them.
When it comes to mastering, there is no secret sauce. If you’ve been working with your own track the whole time, then it should basically sound the way you want it to, in which case you should only use mastering to crank up the volume before applying a limiter.
But please don’t ruin your mix by boosting the volume too much. It’s terrible for the song, and the people that buy your stock music really don’t seem to care that much about volume. Besides, buyers can always crank up the volume further if they want!
I recommend signing up for an account with Pond 5 for the reasons described in this post. You can’t go wrong with them, and you can always join other sites later.
From there, you’ll want to upload your first song(s) and give it a nice descriptive title.
Be sure to write a strong description & use 50 evocative keywords. This step is honestly just as important as the previous 3, because no one will find your song without a good description, title, and keywords.
For the description of the song, you want to craft a short narrative to let the reader know about the emotion of the song, what it sounds like, how long it lasts, and how it might be used.
For the keywords, you’ll want to use a solid mix of terms that describe the tone of the song, who it sounds like, what its technical details are, any unusual instruments used, and how it might be used, but not in a narrative way.
I don’t have evidence that using social media directly boosts sales, but in my own experience I have seen a strong correlation between when I started adding social media to my toolset and when my sales reached a new peak.
And a lot of stock music musicians more successful than me use it, so it must be helpful (if nothing else, it boosts the odds that your song will rank in external search engines).
I would recommend using three platforms to start.
Twitter, Soundcloud, and on your own webpage (not technically social media, I know).
With Twitter and Soundcloud, you need to focus on building a following just as much as you need to focus on promoting your song. By building a following, you increase the odds someone will click on one of your links or share it. I plan on talking more about social media strategies for stock music musicians in an upcoming post.
By tracking how many clicks my links receive, I know that this website drives a fair number of visitors to my stock music on Pond 5 (though I can’t track whether they buy my music online). However, a website is still give you a static base of operations from which to promote and highlight your songs, and is something that people are more likely to encounter through a Google search.
So there you have it. Each of these previous steps is very difficult to perfect, but incredibly easy to start.
So you should start on this sooner rather than later. You are not aiming for your first song to be perfect. You’re aiming for your first song to be good enough. And for each song to be a little better than that.
A little better written.
A little better recorded.
A little better produced.
A little better described.
And a little better promoted.
If you commit to constant improvement instead of immediate perfection, you will absolutely be selling songs online. And the sooner you start writing, the sooner you start selling songs.