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Should I license my Music-

Should I license my Music

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?

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.

Inspiration to license my music

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.

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.

What is royalty free music?

What is Royalty Free Music

What is Royalty Free music? What’s Stock Music? What’s Production Music? What’s the difference?????


These terms can all be so confusing. It took me months to figure out what they each mean.

But that’s not even the frustrating part!


Because they’re often used incorrectly. Awesomesauce.

The difference between Royalty Free Music, Stock Music, and Production Music?

Ok, by now you’re probably thinking “WTF. This is absurd.”

And you’re right.

But thankfully, the terms royalty free music, stock music, and production music, mean the same thing (most of the time)!

These, the terms are pretty much used interchangeably, and that’s how I use them on this site.

If you want more info, you can check out this video I made.

What is Royalty Free Music?

Typically, if someone writes a song, there are several different ways to make money.

The first type of right is called a mechanical royalty. It just means that whenever a copy of the song is sold (a CD is sold, mp3 downloaded, or sheet music is sold), the writer gets paid.

A synchronization license is required whenever a purchaser buys the rights to use a song as part of some other media presentation – for example as part of a TV soundtrack.

So when you license your royalty free music on a stock music site, the purchaser pays a fee for the right to use the song. On Pond 5, for example, the purchaser must pay a minimum of $15 to use the song, a portion of which goes to the songwriter.

However, there is another type of royalty, called performance royalties. When a song is performed publicly, either by being broadcast or played live, the broadcaster or the venue have to pay the songwriter a performance royalty. These are collected by performing rights societies like BMI.

Did you know that public places, like shops & bars have to pay a fee to BMI for the music they broadcast? Sometimes songwriters are willing to waive these performance royalties in exchange for a larger synchronization fee.

So if a buyer purchases a synch license for your song on Pond 5 for use in a TV commercial, they only pay that single upfront fee. Then, when the TV station broadcasts the commercial, the station must pay the performance royalties to BMI. BMI then sends a check to the songwriter.

Phew. That’s complicated.

So what is royalty free music, then?????

Basically, royalty free music just means that the purchaser only needs to pay a single upfront synchronization fee, without having to worry about any other complaints or royalties to the songwriter. Then, depending on the terms of the agreement, the musician may still be eligible to receive performance royalties from broadcasters.

Unfortunately this is pretty complicated, and each royalty free music site has different terms, so you really need to review it on a case by case basis.

If you’d prefer, here’s a video explaining what is royalty free music.

Guide to free production music

Free Production Music Ultimate Guide

If you’re wondering where to find free production music, look no further. I’ve collected the and put together a list of the best resources to find royalty free stock music.

Each site has its own strengths and weaknesses. Some focus on modern music, others on classical, and some have a very small selections of free downloads.

The Best Sites to Download Free Production Music

Many of the major paid stock music sites also offer some free songs. Just look on Pond 5 in the public domain section.

AudioJungle also has free royalty free music.

However, The selection of free production music on both of these sits is pretty limited, but you never know what you’ll find. Plus, they have 1,000’s of songs that range between $15-19, which is a great deal.

If you want to use the music in Youtube video, then you can find plenty of free stock music on the Youtube’s page.

The free production music on Youtube can be hard to find, however, so check out this quick video I made showing exactly where it is.

If you’re making a movie in Apple’s iMovie, there’s also a couple dozen pieces of free stock music in iMovie.

And if you’re looking for free classical stock music, then MusOpen has you covered and then some.

There is a ton of public domain music available on the Internet Archive, though not all of it is royalty free music. They each have different types of usage restrictions, so be sure that you’re allowed to use them how you want.

Similarly, the Library of Congress offers an extensive catalog of music, but, again, each one has different rules and restrictions on use.

There’s also Free Stock Music, although they have an extremely limited selection.

And of course, there’s always a Google search.

Cause if you can’t find it there, where can you?

That said though, you will be able to find exactly what you’re looking for in just a few minutes if you are willing to pay $15-40 on one of the paid stock music sites like Pond 5 or AudioJungle. Plus you’ll support independent musicians like me.

But I understand that that might be too expensive for some, so hopefully you this helps you find what you need.

5 Lessons From 1st Year Selling Music Online

5 Lessons to Sell Music Online

5 Lessons From 1st Year Selling Music Online

5 Lessons From 1st Year Selling Music Online

I’ve been seriously trying to sell music online for about a year now. In the process of learning how to license stock music online this year, I’ve come up with five helpful tips I’d like to share.

This free video shows how to license your music online!

1. Start now!

I first heard about licensing stock music a couple of years ago. But like most things in life, I heard about it, I thought “huh, that’d be cool,” and promptly went on with my life.

I totally ignored learning how to sell music online at first

I totally ignored learning about stock music at first

Then, a year I heard about it again. This time I actually signed up for a site (Audiojungle), and uploaded some songs. One of these royalty free songs was accepted, and even sold, netting me a cool $7.50.

I was ready for retirement.

Of course, Audiojungle also rejected a metric CRAP-TON of my songs. So I got frustrated and stopped trying to make royalty free music for a while.

About 6 months after that, April 2015, I finally got up and running with my favorite stock music site, Pond 5. Through a lot of hard work I’ve started to create a portfolio of music that consistently sells.


2. Learn About Everything!

Learn all of it! Learn everything!

When I started, I thought I knew it all. Hahahaha. I was an idiot.

I needed to learn how to write better songs, how to record and mix, how to manage a portfolio of my stock music, how to do social media, and how to balance it all with my life.

There are tons of helpful free resources out there, many of which I’ll talk about down the line. These days there are websites, blogs, vlogs, podcasts and lord knows what else to help.

However, I will say that I’ve tended to get the best results from paid services, whether they’re books, communities, or courses.

So learn, but don’t be afraid to shell out for the right information. It is WAY more important than gear.

3. You need the right gear to make quality music.

Speaking of gear, you don’t need Abbey Road to create excellent stock music. But there’s certain non-negotiables when it comes to recording: decent monitors or headphones, a DAW you understand, a direct input box if you’re using a guitar or bass, and online backup software.

At the same time, so much gear, especially the vintage plugins, are just a total waste of time (and money).

You don't need expensive gear to sell music online

You don’t need expensive gear to sell music online

There are plenty of things that make your workflow faster, though. If you’ve got the money, they can really be worth it.

For me, that’s an Avid Eleven Rack and Native Instruments’ Maschine.

4. If You Work Hard to Sell Music Online, You Can Make Real Money

Let’s be clear – you are not going to retire by licensing your music any time soon.

But if you apply yourself to licensing music, you will definitely be able to pay for lots of new gear and beer and pizza.

And that, my friends, is a-maz-ing.

To give you some idea, after a year of doing this about 10 hours a week, I’m now making about $200 a month selling my songs on websites. And I had fun doing most of it!

Pro-tip: There is basically NO money to be made from Spotify. Licensing is the easiest way to go.

5. Don’t Get Discouraged

People are stupid.

I often write songs that are obviously amazing, but people don’t buy them. Why people, why?

I occasionally write songs that are terrible. But…. people… buy them…? Why people, why?

All I can say is, the more songs I write, the less I care about the results of any given song. I put the best part of me into each one and set it loose on the world.

If you have faith in your craft, produce music at a consistent pace, and keeping getting better, than there is no reason you shouldn’t be able to sell music online too.