Making significant $ with film/TV music

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Casey H
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Making significant $ with film/TV music

Post by Casey H » Thu Dec 04, 2008 3:53 am

I often see questions on the forum like: How much did you make for that placement? Can a person make significant (5 figures) money in film/TV? Can a person make a full time living with film/TV music? ...and so on...These questions have been answered on many threads and a video by Matto, but it would be great to have some of the following in one place. Members like Matto, Hummingbird, Dave, Mazz and others have given info like the following elsewhere. I welcome their suggested edits to what follows- maybe a 'sticky' can come out of this First, this doesn't include custom composing. For this, I am speaking only of tracks forwarded to music libraries. Second, I am simply repeating what I've learned from others such as the names I mentioned above. Those folks are either earning good money or on a targeted 5 year plan toward that. I am not in that category- not prolific enough. Here goes...It takes as much as 5 years (can be more) to start bringing in significant money- by significant I mean the kind that could lead you to a true career path. There is no instant lottery ticket here. You shouldn't start comparing the money spent with taxi, or any other lead source for that matter, against short term financial gain.It's a volume game. You have to be very prolific, cranking out dozens of broadcast quality tracks. Instrumentals do much better- there is a large demand for background music. Words get in the way sometimes. Not that 'songs' don't get placed, but instrumentals outnumber vocals by a huge margin. You need to work toward having a VERY large number of tracks in music libraries, working for you (e.g. being pitched). By large, I mean 100, 150 or more within those first 5 years. Every track in a library increases the odds that there will be a placement. You have to keep feeding the pipeline, by submitting as much on-target material as possible. It's a continual process. If you learn to nail what is "on-target" you can get efficient at it.With a large volume in libraries, actual placements can start- but from the time a track gets into a library until it might be placed could be anywhere from (ballpark) 6 months to 5 years. Placements bring in some license fee revenue but the "back-end" performance royalties (from PRO's such as ASCAP, BMI, etc. - TV placements) can add up to much more. However, PRO payments lag behind broadcasts by 6-9 months domestically and 1-2 years internationally. And since you get paid each time a show is broadcast, as shows are re-run over the years that follow the initial broadcast, more comes in. That's a slow process. Your PRO earnings from a single TV placement might peak years from initial placement. So if you create and maintain a large pipeline of tracks going into libraries, a steady flow of revenue can be significant a few years later. NOT to any time scale but on the over-simplified time line below, the L's represent tracks put in libraries, the P's actual placements, and the $'s some revenue from P's. Picture a repeat of this over and over- more L's, P's, $'s...LLLLLLLLLLLL--------------------P1---------------- P2------------------P3-------------------------------------------------$p1-------------------$p1$p2----------------$p1$p2$p3...Although I left out custom composing, often when you are successful with a library, there is an opportunity with them for custom work which brings in more revenue.I hope this provides some answers regarding making "real" money with film/TV tracks. Once again, I welcome comments and corrections- I am not the foremost expert here. My goal would be to create a decent 'sticky' in this Music Biz section. Casey

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Re: Making significant $ with film/TV music

Post by mojobone » Thu Dec 04, 2008 6:50 pm

Links to some appropriate posts, or better yet, blockquotes or the posts themselves-I'm thinking mazz and matto's and some others. I might do some digging when I get time.
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Re: Making significant $ with film/TV music

Post by bobbi » Fri Dec 05, 2008 12:17 am

Dec 4, 2008, 5:53am, hurowitz wrote:I often see questions on the forum like: How much did you make for that placement? Can a person make significant (5 figures) money in film/TV? Can a person make a full time living with film/TV music? ...and so on...These questions have been answered on many threads and a video by Matto, but it would be great to have some of the following in one place. Members like Matto, Hummingbird, Dave, Mazz and others have given info like the following elsewhere. I welcome their suggested edits to what follows- maybe a 'sticky' can come out of this First, this doesn't include custom composing. For this, I am speaking only of tracks forwarded to music libraries. Second, I am simply repeating what I've learned from others such as the names I mentioned above. Those folks are either earning good money or on a targeted 5 year plan toward that. I am not in that category- not prolific enough. Here goes...It takes as much as 5 years (can be more) to start bringing in significant money- by significant I mean the kind that could lead you to a true career path. There is no instant lottery ticket here. You shouldn't start comparing the money spent with taxi, or any other lead source for that matter, against short term financial gain.It's a volume game. You have to be very prolific, cranking out dozens of broadcast quality tracks. Instrumentals do much better- there is a large demand for background music. Words get in the way sometimes. Not that 'songs' don't get placed, but instrumentals outnumber vocals by a huge margin. You need to work toward having a VERY large number of tracks in music libraries, working for you (e.g. being pitched). By large, I mean 100, 150 or more within those first 5 years. Every track in a library increases the odds that there will be a placement. You have to keep feeding the pipeline, by submitting as much on-target material as possible. It's a continual process. If you learn to nail what is "on-target" you can get efficient at it.With a large volume in libraries, actual placements can start- but from the time a track gets into a library until it might be placed could be anywhere from (ballpark) 6 months to 5 years. Placements bring in some license fee revenue but the "back-end" performance royalties (from PRO's such as ASCAP, BMI, etc. - TV placements) can add up to much more. However, PRO payments lag behind broadcasts by 6-9 months domestically and 1-2 years internationally. And since you get paid each time a show is broadcast, as shows are re-run over the years that follow the initial broadcast, more comes in. That's a slow process. Your PRO earnings from a single TV placement might peak years from initial placement. So if you create and maintain a large pipeline of tracks going into libraries, a steady flow of revenue can be significant a few years later. NOT to any time scale but on the over-simplified time line below, the L's represent tracks put in libraries, the P's actual placements, and the $'s some revenue from P's. Picture a repeat of this over and over- more L's, P's, $'s...LLLLLLLLLLLL--------------------P1---------------- P2------------------P3-------------------------------------------------$p1-------------------$p1$p2----------------$p1$p2$p3...Although I left out custom composing, often when you are successful with a library, there is an opportunity with them for custom work which brings in more revenue.I hope this provides some answers regarding making "real" money with film/TV tracks. Once again, I welcome comments and corrections- I am not the foremost expert here. My goal would be to create a decent 'sticky' in this Music Biz section. CaseyHey CaseyWell that is a hard way… Making 100- 150 broad casting quality tracks cost a lot of money ..But somehow one should make a living while waiting for years getting a little money form the library…How you guys do that?How you guys do you support yourselves and your families while making these expensive demos and waiting for years to get the money from these libraries…It seems very unrealistic to me, since one should spend a lot of time and money for making tracks , trying to pitch them, and having a job for supporting yourself and your familyAm I missing something? Bobbi

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Re: Making significant $ with film/TV music

Post by mojobone » Fri Dec 05, 2008 1:21 am

It's more doable for folks that can record their own material with their own equipment, generally, but remember we're talking about library music; song pitches for artists work differently-the bar is way higher, recording costs can be lower and the earnings potential for a cut by a major artist can range from a pittance to being set for life, though it's kinda like playing the lottery, odds-wise.
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Re: Making significant $ with film/TV music

Post by Casey H » Fri Dec 05, 2008 2:12 am

Hi BobbiMojo hit it on the head here. This thread is specifically about film/TV, not about pitching songs to artists. And yes, this applies mainly to people who do their own home recording (or have some other arrangement for producing music quickly and affordably).In terms of "who is making significant money with their music" as it relates to vehicles such as taxi, the overwhelming majority comes from film/TV. Artist placements and record deals are out there, but the odds much tougher. (No one should let go of their dreams, however! )...I posted this because a lot of people ask questions here about money earned vs. taxi membership fees and other expenses. Matt, Vikki, Mazz, Dave W, and others have often explained that it is a long term game, you need a 5 year plan, etc. I thought it might be good to have that explanation in one place here on Music Biz. The thread that Vikki posted a link to, one of the best ever on these boards , answers the questions as to where the actual money comes from a particular placement is made in film/TV.... MUST reading... I mentioned somewhere that I made around $200 from some recent placements this past year. Over the next few years, I'll probably see $200-$300 more on those, maybe more. If one compares the cost of something like taxi, to the income from just a few placements, they aren't seeing the real picture. With rare exception, no one is going to make a living or support their family on a few placements. The point that the successful film/TV music writers will tell you is it's a numbers game. You have to multiply those few placements by a big N, with money trickling in over a period of years, some paying more, some less.I believe there is a link somewhere on taxi.com to Matt's video on exactly this subject. I'll take a look for it.If your goal is getting a hit song cut or a label deal as a band or artist, this doesn't apply UNLESS you decide to make parallel effort to bring in income while you continue working towards that goal. Casey

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Re: Making significant $ with film/TV music

Post by mojobone » Fri Dec 05, 2008 4:18 am

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FguwMMsDZAThere are five parts, all are recommended.
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Re: Making significant $ with film/TV music

Post by Casey H » Fri Dec 05, 2008 4:38 am

Dec 5, 2008, 6:18am, mojobone wrote:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FguwMMsDZA There are five parts, all are recommended.Thanks Mojo!! This says it the best... from the horse's mouth (not calling matto a horse, LOL )

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Re: Making significant $ with film/TV music

Post by anne » Fri Dec 05, 2008 6:05 am

TV/FILM music in easy bullet point form:it is a long term game, you need a 5 year planThe point that the successful film/TV music writers will tell you is it's a numbers game. If one compares the cost of something like taxi, to the income from just a few placements, they aren't seeing the real picture.Thanks Casey!

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Re: Making significant $ with film/TV music

Post by hummingbird » Fri Dec 05, 2008 7:18 am

Dec 5, 2008, 2:17am, bobbi wrote:Well that is a hard way… Making 100- 150 broad casting quality tracks cost a lot of money ..But somehow one should make a living while waiting for years getting a little money form the library…How you guys do that?How you guys do you support yourselves and your families while making these expensive demos and waiting for years to get the money from these libraries…It seems very unrealistic to me, since one should spend a lot of time and money for making tracks , trying to pitch them, and having a job for supporting yourself and your familyAm I missing something? BobbiIf you watch the Matt Hirt videos, you will understand. Matt tells you exactly how he came to be earning in excess of $50,000 US per year by placing his music with libraries and publishers for use in film/tv -- grow your composing skills, have the right tools to do the job - focus on your strengths, create a 'niche' (not that you can't do other things) - produce broadcast quality tracks & pitch 'em- target your submissions, get forwards, followed by deals... thereby creating relationships with libraries/publishers... and that niche thing comes into play here... as they get to know you & your music, you might become a 'go to composer' for them- understand it's a long term commitment -- like it would be if you started ANY business.I totally, totally understand why someone asks the question 'how much do I have to invest in time & money before it pays off', and the problem is, no one can truly answer that for you. But in ANY business plan, it's expected that you will not make a profit for at least three years.Matto showed me his credits at the 2007 Rally. They were listed in chronological order. Year one to three... he had a couple of placements. Year four... 4 or 5. Year five? Wow, something exploded... and he had significant credits from then on. What did I say after reading that? I said "if you'd given up in the first four years, you never would be making a living doing this now".My business plan consists of:- acquiring the tools to create & produce broadcast quality music- learning how to use those tools effectively- work consistently to grow my knowledge of composition- create 200 well-composed, broadcast quality instrumental cues over a two year period, and get them signed.- understand that (for example), the forward of today is the deal of tomorrow... and is the income of the day after that- continue to pay it forward by sharing what I've learned with others on the path-H
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Re: Making significant $ with film/TV music

Post by matto » Fri Dec 05, 2008 8:10 am

Dec 5, 2008, 2:17am, bobbi wrote:Well that is a hard way… Making 100- 150 broad casting quality tracks cost a lot of money ..But somehow one should make a living while waiting for years getting a little money form the library…How you guys do that?How you guys do you support yourselves and your families while making these expensive demos and waiting for years to get the money from these libraries…It seems very unrealistic to me, since one should spend a lot of time and money for making tracks , trying to pitch them, and having a job for supporting yourself and your familyAm I missing something? BobbiHi Bobbi,It's true that this thread is about making a living thru film/tv placements only. The exact mechanisms are different for other parts of the business.However, there is an underlying truth that applies to all aspects of the music business, whether you are an artist trying to get a record deal, a songwriter aspiring towards placing your songs with signed artists, a composer who's goal is to score Hollywood movies, or someone who is trying to make a living with film/tv placements as described in this thread:You need to be prepared to be in it for the long haul. For most people, it will take years to become successful. That's a simple fact.So how do you do it? How can you afford to do it?Well, you need a "day job" that will pay the bills while you pursue your dream, there's really no other way (well there are other ways but they aren't feasible for most people...).As far as the particular path of placing music in film/tv, as others have pointed out it's only a feasible pursuit if you can produce your own broadcast quality tracks. This has become a lot easier and cheaper with the advent of low coast, high quality digital audio workstation programs that run on a computer, that's why more people are able to pursue these opportunities.Of course, if you don't have the ability to produce tracks yourself, there's always the possibility of collaborating with someone who does.In your "demo" post, Casey mentioned that he heard some of your music and was quite impressed. Well, if you have the talent, it should be fairly easy to attract collaborators who have their own studios...even right here on this very board...HTH,matto

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