How to Start Selling Stock Music
In this third part of the series “New Ways to Make Money from Music”, I’m going to take a look at a very interesting and usually overlooked way of making money from music: making stock music for online music libraries.
What is Stock Music?
Stock music is an economical alternative for media creators to add music to their content. Stock music is often used for all kind of videos, be it promotional, informative, films, weddings, vlogs, and even content broadcasted on TV or radio. It is normally sold in online music libraries- websites acting as storefronts that allow people to search for and hear the music they need. Stock music is often also called “royalty-free” music, and that’s how you will see most music libraries describe it.
Why Stock Music?
For the buyers, stock music is relatively cheap (as opposed to hiring a composer), but the downside for them is that the same track can be sold an unlimited number of times. This means that the same track could be heard in many other videos, thus making theirs less unique. The other downside is that it often takes time to go through thousands of tracks to find the ideal one - although new websites like Your Music Assistant are starting to take care of that, making it easier for content creators to get stock music.
For the musician (that’s you!), selling stock music is another way of making money from composing and producing music. It can work well as a long-term income stream since each track can be sold an indefinite number of times in the span of many years. Once you have enough good tracks online and selling, money will come without you having to do anything else. The downside is that you need to have plenty of good tracks for that to happen, so the process can take a long, long time.
Stock music is sometimes considered of low quality, but that’s a misconception: even if some tracks of dubious quality are on sale, there is also plenty of stock music of excellent quality on sale. As a musician, it is always good to find those and learn from them.
What Do You Need?
As with working as a studio musician or working as a video game music composer, making library music requires you to have a computer with software to record yourself and produce music. Like game composers do, stock music composers use both virtual instruments and real instruments to make the track feel more real. The more physical instruments you can use the better! Check out Bbop’s marketplace and get yourself some instruments to make your tracks sound better than ever.
How To Make the Music
Technically, any song can be sold as stock music, as long as you own the rights. However, given the special way in which stock music is sold and used, your tracks will sell much better if they have the following characteristics:
- Instrumental songs or with limited lyrics
- 2-3 minutes long
- A short intro, getting quickly into the interesting parts
- A uniform mood and instrumentation, that convey the same feeling during the whole track and don’t make drastic changes in sound.
Regarding the style of music, I recommend you to check what styles of music sell the most on royalty-free websites and write in the one you feel more comfortable with.
For each track you make it’s also good to make different versions of it, like a shortened 30 seconds version, a 1-minute version, a version without melody, etc.
Once your track is done, it’s time to upload it to the music libraries, which, honestly, can be a tedious process. This includes uploading the tracks in the formats they ask you and writing a description of the track plus tagging it so that the buyers can find it.
Exclusive or Non-exclusive?
Stock music libraries can be divided into two categories: exclusive and non-exclusive. Exclusive libraries typically generate more money for the musicians (although not always) but they don’t allow you to have your tracks on sale anywhere else.
On the other side, non-exclusive libraries allow you to sell your music in as many other non-exclusive libraries as you want, but that means spending a lot of time uploading your tracks to each website. Some smaller non-exclusive libraries have very few clients, so it’s better to start uploading your music to the most popular ones.
If you’re starting with this, I recommend you to start putting your music in various non-exclusive music libraries. After some time you will start to see what kind of tracks sell better, and it can be a good idea to get into an exclusive music library that focuses on the style of your top-selling tracks.
These are some of the most popular non-exclusive libraries out there:
Here’s what you should do to start your path as a stock music producer right now!
- Find out in which of the styles that sell well you are good at.
- Create your first track.
- Upload your new track to a non-exclusive royalty-free music website.
- Repeat steps 2 and 3 until you have 5 tracks online.
- Find another non-exclusive royalty-free music website and add your tracks there.
- Repeat the whole process!
Eventually, you will have many tracks in different libraries, and if the quality is good enough you will start seeing how they sell. As in many other jobs in music, this is a marathon rather than a sprint, so expect it to take some time until you see some rewards. Good luck!
A Quicker Way of Making Money
Creating Stock Music can be a very good way of making a living as a musician. However, it's a very long-term strategy. If you really need to make money right now, consider selling one of your instruments. We make it easier than ever here at Bbop, allowing you to sell to thousands of musicians from all over Europe. We have no hidden fees so that you can make the most out of selling your instrument. Simply create an account and start selling right now.
If you still don't know how Bbop works, check out this short video.