The music industry is a lucrative one, but it can be incredibly competitive as well. In fact, it can often feel like an arms race, with everyone jockeying for position, trying to gain the advantage over their competitors. Although it can be lucrative to write for the music business, it’s not always an easy path to take. You may wonder if there’s a way you can make money writing for the music business, and if so, how?
The answer is yes, there are definitely ways you can make money writing for the music business, but first, you have to understand what kinds of opportunities are out there.
The Good Old Days
Back in the day, if you were a songwriter, there were basically two options before you – television and movie scores, and commercial jingles. If you were lucky, you might get a string of gigs for film and TV scores, with a few jingle offers here and there. But mostly it was one or the other, and usually not very lucrative ones at that.
This all changed, of course, with the digital revolution. Nowadays, there are endless possibilities, from being featured on TikTok to scoring a feature film or TV show to writing a song for a major artist. The world is your oyster. Literally.
Nowadays, the music business is completely different than it was 40 years ago. You have to understand that today, more than ever, music is a part of our culture and society. It’s in the mainstream, and it’s accessible to everyone. This makes it much more difficult to break into. Today’s music business is a fast-paced, ever-evolving environment, and it can be challenging to keep up with all the trends, styles, and technologies that are constantly mutating. In addition, the competition is fierce, and you never know what could happen tomorrow or even today that could make you lose out on an opportunity. This is probably the number one reason why so many people choose not to pursue a career in music – they don’t want to be tied down to one location or one employer.
The Options Today
Fortunately, today is different. Thanks to the internet and social media, breaking into the music business doesn’t require you to be bound to one location or one employer. The world is your oyster. You can literally write your song, upload it to YouTube, and immediately start getting offers. But before you put in that much effort, it’s important to determine whether or not you will be able to make a reasonable living from this endeavor. How much can you really charge for writing a song? Will you be able to sustain yourself solely on music royalties?
Many people have succeeded in making a living off their songwriting, but it’s not always easy. There are numerous resources online that you can use to help you navigate this new world of freelance music writing. Here are just a few of them.
Rough Idea Money Calculator
This one is for those of you who are just starting out and aren’t sure how much you’ll be able to charge for a song. It’s pretty basic, but it will give you an idea of the various costs associated with writing a song. First, you will need to determine the estimated sales of your song. For best results, use the “Rough Idea” function and enter the following numbers:
- One – How many of your own songs do you have?
- Two – How much do you want to charge for this song?
- Three – How long do you think it will take you to write this song?
- Four – What is the name of your song?
- Five – Who is the main artist of your song?
- Six – What is the name of the album your song is on?
- Seven – What is the name of the song?
- Eight – Who is your favorite band/artist?
- Nine – How did you come up with the title/concept for your song?
Once you have your numbers, it’s pretty easy to come up with a ballpark figure for your song’s royalties. As a general rule of thumb, a popular song can generate between $0.05 and $0.10 per day in royalties. Less popular songs can generate between $0.01 and $0.04 per day. If you’re just starting out and have no track records, it’s best to aim for the higher number. If you’re hoping to make a go of it as a full-time music business, this may not be the best choice, as there are numerous other ways of making money that don’t require you to write songs (i.e. selling merchandise, coaching, tutoring, etc.). If you’re writing for fun or for a small audience, this may be a much more viable option. In fact, many successful songwriters make their living off endorsements, affiliate sales, and live performances.
Sell Sheet Musician & Songwriter
If you’re looking to make a career out of writing for the music business, this is the ultimate resource. Among its various features, you’ll be able to filter the various scoring opportunities by the different instruments that are available, as well as determine how many lyrics you will need in your song (in some cases, a full song with no lyrics can be scored). It also contains information about the different categories (e.g. movie themes, TV shows, advertising jingles, viral videos, animation music, sport, club, etc.), the various levels within each category, and the different genres (e.g. pop, rock, jazz, blues, etc.). Finally, there’s also a link to the various trade publications and websites that cover the music business, so that you can keep abreast of all the latest news and trends.
Music Business Degrees & Online Communities
There are numerous online communities that you can join to get tips and advice from experienced professionals in the music business. One of the best-known ones is Songwriter.net. Here you can post your rough demos and get feedback from experts. Some notable members include: