What would I search for online if I were trying to find out which companies are currently looking for new music? Putting myself in the shoes of a musician who might not yet be savvy enough to do niche searches for record labels, production music libraries, or music supervisors, I’d probably type, “Companies looking for music.” That seems logical. I did it, and a couple of seconds later, what I found surprised me!
There’s a very wide spectrum of companies that need music, but film and TV music placements are what many musicians are after these days. Why? Because they’ve given up on the idea of getting a record deal from a Major or Indie record label. Far less people buy music today, digital downloads are on the decline, and increasing numbers of people prefer to stream music.
My teenage daughters and their friends use Youtube as their primary music discovery tool. They also build collections on Spotify. Most musicians make very little income from music streaming services.
So, what types of companies are looking for music from songwriters, artists, and composers?
Money Making Options for Musicians
Major Label Record Deals
- Believe it or not, landing a contract from a Major Record Label is probably your best bet if you want to make a significant amount of money. Many musicians publicly say, “I’d never sign a deal with a major label,” but I’ve never met a musician who’d turn one down! How many artists have you ever seen get rich without a big record label behind them?
Independent Label Record Deals
- If your Indie Label is distributed by a Major Record Label, there’s some hope. If it’s a true independent, the odds of making a lot of money shrink quite a bit. While they may appeal strongly to a niche market, the niches are often small, and the Indie labels don’t have the marketing clout needed to sell millions of records or downloads. That’s the bad news. The good news is that they invest very little, typically have low overhead, and can be profitable selling just a few thousand copies of a CD or a few thousand downloads.
- Traditional music publishing deals (as we used to know them) are almost a thing of the past. In the good old days, publishing companies would give songwriters a yearly advance against future royalties, then pitch the songwriter’s songs, hoping to get a cut, have a hit, and earn income from mechanical and performance royalties. Shrinking record labels, smaller rosters, and a greatly diminished music industry as a whole mean fewer labels, fewer artists to pitch songs to, and sales figures that are rarely big enough to make a ton of money for the label, artist, or songwriter. But some do!
Music Libraries or Production Music Libraries
- There are film and TV music specific publishers, with catalogs tailored to licensing both instrumental music cues, as well as songs with lyrics. As the record business began to decline, songwriters and artists began to flock to music licensing companies in large numbers. So much so, that the supply began to outstrip the demand, causing the upfront (sync) fees to drop. However, many musicians make income from the backend performance royalties paid to them by their Performing Rights Organizations such as; ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC.
The DIY Approach to Making Money with Your Music
- Many musicians have tried the Do-It-Yourself approach to building a fanbase and selling their music directly to their fans. Social media and the Internet in general make this very possible, yet very few musicians have the knowledge and skill sets necessary to do this effectively.
- It takes a lot of time to sell enough of your music online to make any significant income. Many songwriters and artists have day jobs, and cannot spend 8-12 hours a day marketing their music online. Many give up trying after a few months of weak sales. The trick is to build a fanbase first, then drive them to the sites that sell your music – like iTunes! Take note that most of the artists selling huge numbers of downloads on iTunes are signed to major labels. Not all, but most!
How to Make Money with Music Streaming Services
- Services such as Spotify and Pandora provide music for fans to stream, and pay very little money to the songwriters and artists. Here’s a great article that gives you a great overview of what you can make if your music is on streaming services. The bottom line is that you need to have MILLIONS of streams to make any significant income. Most musicians don’t have the marketing budget or a marketing plan in place that will drive millions of people to stream their music.
How to Make Money with Your Music on Youtube…
- Yes, you can share the ad revenue every time somebody watches your music video on Youtube. Here’s a Rolling Stone article that shows you how!
The Best Way to Make Money with Your Music
If you want to earn significant income with your music, a record deal with a Major Record Label may still be your best bet. Yes, many people believe that it’s really hard to get a deal with a major label, but look at the Billboard Charts! You will quickly see that most of the artists you know who are getting a lot of radio airplay (which is still the key driver to music related income), and making any serious income with their music are on Major Record Labels or Indie Labels that are distributed through a Major Label.
The Easier Way to Make Money with Your Music…
Film and TV music placements are a great way to earn a living wage, maybe even a six-figure income if you’re highly productive, making the right type of music, and getting it to the right people. To see what type of music companies are currently looking for, see TAXI’s Industry Listings. To get free, regular updates about what Record Label, Music Supervisors, and Film TV Music Licensing Companies are looking for on a daily basis, click here!