Why It's Hard
Being successful at licensing your music it tough, in part because you have to master multiple, distinct skill sets. You’ve got to be able to write good songs, perform them well, be good at recording and mixing. You’ve also got to understand the business back end. And you’ve got to be able to do all of this quickly and repeatedly to license your music.
Now back in “golden age” of the music industry, all of these functions were completely split up. You’d have song writers in the Brill Building. Celebrity singers paired with professional backing bands. An army of audio engineers to make a recording. Then a team of marketers to sell the product and a manager to crack the whip and keep the whole thing running smoothly.
While the digital revolution is incredibly liberating, it also throws all of these difficult tasks AT YOU. The economics of the stock music game don’t allow you to hire people to do these tasks when you’re starting out (and probably not ever).
By the way - if you want to learn how to start licensing your music, I’ve got a free five day crash course for you right here.
Assess Your Skills
To grow your music licensing career, you need to be honest about which of these skills you’re good at, and which need more work. And then you need to invest your time and money in getting better at those skills that you’re weakest at. Don’t try to get really good at one or two until you’re proficient in all of them. That’s a recipe for disaster.
Just imagine the most beautifully written song terribly performed with wrong notes and flubs. Or the most high definition recording of a fart.
Asses your skills - honestly.
What Can Help
If you want to improve at songwriting you could check out the book “Hit Happens.” It uses country music as its examples, but trust me when I say that Nashville is a finely oiled songwriting machine and EVERYONE should be learning how they do it.
When it comes to being better as a performer, you may want to take lessons with a local teacher. Or just practice your scales. Having the fundamentals down will save you literally weeks of time by capturing your recordings in fewer takes.
And if you’re a guitar player, you’ve got to use the exercises in “Fretboard Logic.” Not only will the drills make you way better of a player, but the approach to chords and scales in brilliant and will save you so much time in figuring out how to arrange your songs.
If you need to learn how to record/mix and you’re a relative novice or intermediate producer, you’ve got to check out Graham Cochrane’s Recording Revolution courses. They taught me how to systemize my mixing and saved me years in figuring it out on my own.
If you’re looking to master the business end of things, where to upload your songs, how to make sure they get found, how to get paid for your royalties, etc., then I’ll humbly recommend my course. It will teach you everything you need to know to set yourself up for a successful side hustle in music licensing.
Regardless, don’t be frustrated. I’m still way stronger as a writer and business person than I am as a performer and producer. But I am working hard at improving, taking courses, and practicing. And I can absolutely hear the difference!
So be patient and believe in yourself - if this is what you want, you can make it happen.