A question that every new composer in the stock music industry struggles with is how many tracks do I need to make a living from stock music?
Instead of all the speculations I thought I would to a little research by looking at some of the best selling artists at the stock music libraries.
Don’t let your hopes of making some decent money from selling stock music wither away – you do not necessarily need to compose hundreds of tracks.
Can these sales numbers really be used to anything?
I have looked at some of many factors that plays a role (when it comes to making music that can sell) in the article Make Money Selling Stock Music. The difference from that article and this one is that I will be looking at actual stock music composers and their sales numbers.
In other words this article is dealing with facts and real numbers. Looking at the best selling tracks is something I find very useful. It’s the best way of learning how the successful composers are making sales happen.
How the stock music sales numbers are to be understood
The sales and track numbers below are from RevoStock and Pond5. The numbers therefore only represent a small part of what these composers make in total pr. year.
The back end royalties and their many listing at other libraries are factors I wont look at in this article. As a bonus I do however list where they have their music listed besides RevoStock and Pond5. Thought this could give you an idea of where to upload your music.
I will not be mentioning the composers by name as I’m not sure they want some of their music business dissected and posted on a public blog. They are therefore all anonymous, but all the sales numbers are real.
Stock music composer number one
- Primary styles: Corporate / Happy / TV-News
- Started selling stock music: 2011
- Number of tracks: 51
- Sales numbers taken from: RevoStock / Pond5
- Number of track sales: 195 / 3867
- Estimated average earnings pr. track sale: $17 / $10
- Estimated earnings pr. year: $20992
- Also listed at: zukkio, youlicense
- Can be found on YouTube and Soundcloud.
Stock music composer number two
- Primary styles: Rock & Pop / Music in many different genres
- Started selling stock music: 2008
- Number of tracks: 91
- Sales numbers taken from: RevoStock / Pond5
- Number of track sales: 767 / 1407
- Estimated average earnings pr. track sale: $20 / $20
- Estimated earnings pr. year: $8696
- Also listed at: premiumbeat, shockwave-sound, music loops, youlicense, yookamusic, themusicase, proudmusiclibrary, productiontrax, partnersinrhyme, customlabelmusic, triplescoopmusic, luckstock
- Can be found on YouTube, Soundcloud, Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, linkedin and lots of other places.
Stock music composer number three
- Primary styles: Corporate / TV-news / Music in many different genres
- Started selling stock music: 2009
- Number of tracks: 87
- Sales numbers taken from: RevoStock / Pond5
- Number of track sales: 373 / 3441
- Estimated average earnings pr. track sale: $17 / $15
- Estimated earnings pr. year: $14114
- Also listed at: audiojungle, istockphoto, tunefruit, audiosparx, musicloops, productiontrax, yookamusic, gettyimages, luckstock, royaltyfreeheaven, buystocksound, musicdealers, stockmusicsite, youlicense, coolstockmusic
- Can be found on YouTube, Soundcloud, Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, allmusic and lots of other places.
What can be concluded from these sales numbers?
I was quite surprised after looking at the numbers that you can make so much money from under 100 tracks at two music libraries.
Another thing that strikes me is that the quality of the stock music from these three composers are very high. It seems that quality is indeed better than quantity.
The tracks that “composer one” has created are very well made and good rock tracks cant be found in many places. He can of cause have sent traffic directly to RevoStock and pond5, but this seems unlikely as he has only uploaded his music in very few places and for example are not to be found on Twitter.
I think it’s obvious that the number of tracks is far from the most important factor when it comes to selling stock music. Every best selling artist at the music libraries has quality music.
Another thing that should not be overlooked is that the three composers best selling tracks all are in the corporate genre or related. So again this is another indicator that corporate music could be the holy grail of making it in stock music business.
That is of cause if you’re not pitching your music for films, documentaries and so on. Then you need a different approach as corporate music obviously will not be what the producers are looking for.
Don’t try to create 1000 tracks – Make quality music instead
It does not seem like you need 500 tracks or more to make a living from stock music. You could probably do it with less than 100 tracks if they were in the right genre and of very high quality.
It’s of cause a balance as you cant be spending months on a single track, then you wont get anywhere. I do however think quality should win over quantity.
It can be very hard to keep making new music with selling in mind, when you don’t see any noticeable income, but I urge you to not give up. Everybody started with zero tracks and worked their way up.
Many have succeed making a living selling their music and skills as a composer – so why should you not be able to do it?
Yeah, right. But the main factor here is still (I think) getting to the top and be noticed. Second is quality – althought sometimes it might probably build your way to the top, but that’s not guranteed.
It’s true that you can have the best music in the world, but if no one knows about it you wont get any sales. It’s very hard to get views in the first place, so I think that focusing on making good tracks (and titles, descriptions, tags) will help conversions.
I plan on buying direct traffic for my tracks in the future and here it will also be important that the quality is high. No matter what your approach is I still think quality should have an edge on quantity. I never see bad tracks being top sellers (unless they are priced very low) – I want my tracks to be best selling in the future.
However maybe I should create a bunch of quick piano tracks next week and post them on AudioJungle and see what happens. Time spent on a track and price should in my mind go hand in hand, but I could be wrong.
I do agree that quality beats quantity HOWEVER, quantity LEADS to quality. Practice makes perfect. Make and use templates, write everyday and with that quantity, quality will come, so long as you put the required effort in….
my idea is that promotion and driving views to your music is far more important than simply producing quality music…
if you have top quality music but no one listen or notice to it then it’s impossible to sell. there simply so much “good” music on the RF market!
if you have even “decent” music and you are able to bring potential buyers interested to the music in your RF portfolio then you can have some chance.
I usually listen to awful songs on pond5 or AJ with a lot of sales and i wonder how could they sell so much!!! 🙂
i have the idea that for successfull sellers the RF market is a side-aspect of a well established music composition career, where they compose music on-demand and put on the RF market the songs which their clients did not like…
Yes, there are so many aspects in this discussion and I am by no means an expert. Typically if a “low-end” track has many sales it’s sold very cheap. Then there’s the odd one out where I simply don’t get the sales numbers.
There are of-cause also a market for low priced royalty free music and especially on pond5, low track pricing seems to have quite a customer base.
And as you say, it seems that many of the best selling artist are in fact professional musicians. Having their music on the RF sites are just another (but for some quite lucrative) income stream.
I know we focus on royalty-free sites here but just wanted to let you know that I just signed a song exclusively with a music library via a forward I got with Taxi. Some, including me, are skeptical of Taxi… but it worked. Not sure how much it will pay if my song is used but it’s gotta be more than Audiojungle! lol The song was a simple piano rendition of Silent Night: https://soundcloud.com/davidhollandsworth/silent-night-36
That’s great. It will be interesting to see how much they will pay for your song. And removing one song from AudioJungle sure wont make much a difference to your sales. 🙂
Down the road I will probably make a list of libraries for getting signed or pitched for film and TV. As I don’t focus on this myself at the moment, It will probably be a while before I start posting on this topic. Information on placements are of-cause more than welcome – It sure is inspiring to hear about.
By the way just had the first sale today of my new track “Positive Rock Music – Change Of Heart” on pond5 😀
Oh… forgot. I had to remove this song from all RF sites since it’s exclusive. We’ll see if it’s worth it.
I’m also having a song used in a corporate video for employees in a large healthcare company out in CA. The song is a bluesy piano piece (below). Will be interesting to see how they use it! lol BTW, this deal happened through a Film Music Network listing I responded to.
Yes, I asked this library if they had any idea how much a song would pay. They really can’t say. But at least they try to plug your song to as many as they can. If they make money with it, I do too. So that something the royalty-free sites don’t do. I will keep my songs on the RF sites as long as I can. We’ll see what happens. I know it’s off the subject, but I now belong to these music listing companies: Taxi, Film Music Network, Musicpage and Music Clout. Each has it’s own unique of doing things… and unfortunately, none are totally free.
Quick update on Taxi. Just signed my second song to a music library in Australia (Jamhouse). They look pretty impressive and have clients worldwide. The song was a simple fun/postive 60 second piano based piece I composed specifically for their listing for ad use. And the deal is non-exclusive so I can continue to sell it elsewhere plus I get 75% commission.
That are really good terms. Taxi seems to be worth your time after all. After you have gotten a lot of placements you might end up getting repeat customers too 😀 By the way I just had my first sale on YouLicence only 10 tracks there so I’m happy.
that’s great! i’ve had no action on youlicense and am paying to have more than 10 tracks. might cancel eventually. the owner of tunesociety just asked if i’d like to be an artist of the month sometime so hopefully that will bring in some sales.
Great article and analysis. But wondering how you arrived at the total annual earnings calculation ?
Estimated earning pr. track x number of sales for Pond5 and Revostock (who is now closed). This I divided with two as the music libraries typically takes 50% of each sale. 🙂
Today it will be harder to get results similar to this as the competition is much higher. Lot’s of new tracks are produced and uploaded every day. Also good samples libraries are now much more affordable, so now a lot of people can produce high quality tracks if they have the skills. Making some decent money can still be done, but will take more work.
I have uploaded very few track the past years, but still get sales now and then. 🙂
I rarely get any sales now on a dozen or so RF sites…. except for Pond5 which is actually doing better. You’re right. So much competition and amazing samples now. I’m venturing more into music libraries that pitch for you.
which libraries David,any help would be appreciated.
Being fairly new to producing for stock I was surprised to have almost all of my tracks accepted by Pond5 and a couple of sales so far. Audio Jungle on the other hand appears to be much more difficult to get tracks accepted – perhaps they have an oversupply of certain genres or different selection criteria. Revostock has closed it’s doors.
One thing I am trying at the moment is doing some social media promotion aimed specifically at filmmakers etc since the real challenge I see is actually being found.
Yes Pond5 approve most tracks and is the only place I have had regular sales since I started selling Royalty Free Music.
As you say getting found is defiantly the biggest challenge, but producing and uploading new music regularly (the more often the better) over a few years will get you a long way 🙂
Besides social media looking at Youtube could be a possibility. Some of my videos with only music in them has gotten over 10.000 views. That’s just by uploading creating some graphics and following the tips in get more YouTube views 🙂
Followed your advice and created a video just recently which I have posted on Youtube, Vimeo and Daily Motion. Also added several tracks to Soundcloud This was a first attempt so perhaps I need to refine my skills. https://vimeo.com/175925196
I agree the key is to continue to produce more music often and to develop your skills in creating material that people will want to buy. On an encouraging note I have made a few sales during my short time doing this so I’ll keep going.
Hi there, Anders
So it’s 3 years since you wrote this article. How many track did you manage to sell in all this time?
Was it enough to make a living out of it? Do you still think it’s possible to make decent money in this RF business?
it has been 5 years i’m on royalty free market. more than 200 tracks on audiojungle/pond5/melodyloops (most of them are SFX or short logo and loops, indeed).
the market is declining. i struggle to make 50-60$/month from each site now.
definitely overcrowded and not worth it anymore. the maximum i got was about 130-150$ a month from a single library, but there was always high and lows.
now the down trend is continuing since january.
in any case, for me music is an hobby and i’m quite happy. i bought a lot of software from royaltyfree incomes, several dinners with my wife and short holydas.
I agree with the general opinion that the market is becoming quite flooded. What I have been struggling with however is having the time to work on my music. With a full time job, my own company (doing affiliate marketing) and working on The Amazing Adventure the time I have spend on composing and marketing my music is very limited.
In the last couple of years I have not signed up to new libraries and with RevoStock being shut down and Productiontrax only selling very seldom my profits are quite limited. I now only upload to pond5, but that’s mainly because I don’t have the time to upload at other libraries.
Since I uploaded my first track I have made a total of ~$1000 on pond5.com (I now have 34 tracks online). What’s interesting is that I sell more every year on pond5. More tracks equals more sales. Also some of my tracks has started to sell regularly.
I haven’t really looked at my other accounts for a long time, but I do occasionally get a sale from Productiontrax and others.
I have a friend who uploaded a few tracks to pond5. One of the tracks sells very well and has probably made more from a single track than I have on all of mine. It’s a good track, but in his own words, not great – maybe the luck factor…?
I am looking into getting a good camera and doing some cool videos with my music on top. The idea is to upload it to Youtube and sell both music and videoclips used on pond5.
If I get the time I will start spending the hours (again) to get the ball rolling and updating this site. But for now all I do is upload a new track to pond5, SoundCloud and YouTube now and then.
I think the good old days of RF is slowly dying. I once made $200-$300/mo, now if I make $50 I’m happy. I dropped out of most sites. Mainly see action now on Pond5.
for me audiojungle is still doing good, but with highs and lows, and nearly always around 50-60$/month.
pond5, on the contrary, has slowed down a lot in the latest months. i think it’s because they have introduced the membership program and, moreover, they have hidden the total number of sales of items. i had a couple best seller that sold quite regularly and, after this, they stopped completely…,
but, as i thought in the past, there are no trends nor rules in this market!
Me Too: https://www.pond5.com/artist/desireinspires#1/2064
Thanks for the replies to my question, guys!
So it seems like, if you’re not extremely lucky, it’s pretty much impossible to make a living out of RF music.
That’s too bad. 🙁
I would not say it’s over – you just have to work even harder at it. If you work hard and keep posting new tracks as often as possible you could make a living from it. It would also take a lot of marketing on your own to get the views and sales, but it’s definitely possible.
You do however have to treat it like a businesses and compose whatever the market want’s – even if it’s not what you perfer to do. A good new track every second day + marketing, do that for a couple of years – it will take you a long way. 😀
I have almost 150 tracks with Pond 5. Earlier this year I was seeing between $70 to $120 per month from them, but things have slowed down. I haven’t seen any sales in almost 2 months.
What kind of music do you compose and are you still uploading new tracks? 🙂
Mostly rock, pop and hip hop. I still submit to pond 5 cause it’s not that time consuming for me. And every dime counts…
This is a wake-up call.
I just don’t see how people would be able to make a living from selling music on royalty free sites. The income is in the hundreds of dollars a month at the most for those that earn anything.
The business seems great as supplemental income. But there really isn’t an incentive for most people to pursue selling music for a living as their sole means of income.
If the composers are doing this bad, how are the royalty free companies doing? I see many of them going out of business soon. The successful ones such as Pond5 seem to make most of their money from selling photos and video footage.
It is definitely time for musicians to realize that this side of the business is not a career path. The numbers don’t lie!
What numbers are you talking about, then ones posted in the comments on this page? You can’t conclude much from this, other than it’s not easy to make a living from art. So many people want to live off their art and only a few are able to – it’s not just when it comes to music.
If you want to create a successful business you could easily spend 2-4 years before making a profit and that’s working 50-80 hours or more a week. Like most things in this world the top 3% percent makes most of the money, I don’t see why it should be different, when it comes to composing and selling music.
The ones who are successful aren’t necessarily the best composers, but the ones who has a good network and are good at running a business. Also having the self discipline to do the work / tasks every day, even when you don’t feel like it, is a key factor in succeeding.
I know of one composer who makes a living from selling royalty free music and he does a new track every 2-3 days + marketing (not just uploading to the royalty free sites). He has been keeping that pace for many years, to get where he is at now.
You sure have made me wanna prove you wrong right here on EagleCinematics, but for now I spend most of my spare-time on other online projects 😀
Thank you for commenting.
No, please prove me wrong.
I haven’t heard or seen anyone making a living from royalty free sales. No one at all. I know plenty of people including myself who make money from RF music libraries, but not enough to make a living from. That doesn’t mean it isn’t happening, but it does indicate that it isn’t a likely outcome for most people creating music and submitting it to royalty free music libraries.
I wouldn’t consider something making less than $40,000 USD to be making a living. The numbers don’t lie. Just read the experiences of people who have been in the game for at least 3 years. The RF market is growing, but the number of people making a living from it is not: that is a fact!
I pretty much agree with you on this one. The vast majority of the comments I’ve read recently on different blogs/sites regarding the RF business tell the same sad and depressing story over and over again: people earning less then 50 bucks per month, if any, from 100-200 tracks on different RF libraries. I find this to be rather humiliating.
In the ‘About’ section of this blog you said that “the purpose of EagleCinematics.com is to prove that you can make a decent amount of money selling stock music on line.”
With all due respect, I don’t think you managed to prove that. You said earlier: “Since I uploaded my first track I have made a total of ~$1000 on pond5.com (I now have 34 tracks online).”
Well, I don’t think $1000 can be called “a decent amount of money”, considering how much work it takes to make 34 tracks.
In one of my income reports I write that:
I have in no way done this. I also say that I would have to treat my music like a business to be successful, this I have not done either and this is clearly reflected in the results.
There are many reasons for this, but primarily I have been spending my time on my affiliate websites (which are quite successful and generating $2000+ every month).
It’s simply faster to generate income (for me) creating niche websites because I have the know how and it’s therefore where I use my “business” hours. The total amount of hours I have spent promoting my music (and composing new tracks) is therefore very low and the results should be seen in this light.
I have been told and read so many times that you can’t make money from AdSense or affiliate marketing anymore. That blogging is dead and email lists are dead. It has has however not stopped me form making websites today that use all of the above successfully.
Is it easy – no.
Is it boring at times – yes.
Do you at first work long hours without seeing a single dime as a result – yes.
My key point is: I never let anyone tell what can’t be done, I research, plan, invest the hours and test the concept myself. I have in no way spend the hours needed, when it comes to royalty free music.
Many of my tracks are also created simply because I want to improve as a composer, not with selling in mind. They don’t follow the rules of how a good stock music track should be structured. I just upload them anyways.
I seriously believe that you could make a good amount of money, if you’re willing to spend the time, have the right focus and work hard. But for me it’s only a few hours now and then. This might change in the future especially if I can get a decent part time job.
Again thank you all for commenting, I might just throw a lot of hours into the business of selling royalty free music in the future, because of what you all have written. It’s pretty motivational for me to be told it can´t be done 🙂
One last thing, the sales this article was based upon (3 years ago, and sales going way further back) would be hard today – because of the vast number of available tracks.
Go to AudioJungle and check out Sky, Pink Zebra and many, many others. They are netting over $100,000 a year on AudioJungle alone. It certainly can be done, but it’s not for the timid. Unfortunately your attitude saying you can’t is what will ultimately prevent you from doing so. There’s always a way and a place for you in the market of 7,000,000,000+ people…
I’m interested in knowing what types of marketing you’re doing to drive sales to your Music on RF sites like Pond 5.
Hi Guscave. Sorry for the late reply, you can read more about how I promote my music here: https://eaglecinematics.com/category/promoting-music-online. This blog has not been updated in a while, so I would probably do things a bit different now, but in general, I would follow the same principles 🙂
I started a similar discussion on this thread http://musiclibraryreport.com/forums/topic/pma-and-the-state-of-the-production-music-business/page/3/ and it seems that some members of the MLR forum have a somehow more “optimistic” view on the RF business. Basically what they’re saying is this: in order to make a living from RF music, you need at least 1.000(!!) quality tracks in your portfolio. I find this to be laughable and depressing at the same time.
I think the optimism is based on the fact that the RF music business is growing. But just because the business is growing doesn’t mean that it is growing fast enough to support most of those who are adding music to royalty free libraries.
Most composers tell me that the royalty free business is a supplement to the income they earn from PRO royalties, licensing fees, playing live shows, teaching and tutoring upcoming musicians, and money from selling CDs.
I would caution anyone looking to become a full-time composer to not enter into it lightly. Selling a few hundred dollars of music online every month is not something to be optimistic about if that is your only source of income.
Do not let hope or optimism steer you down the wrong path. Follow the money. This is math, not magic.
Why is that laughable? It’s like running a marathon, you have to pace yourself and be in this for the long haul. That’s what happens, people drop out of the race, you need to have lasting stamina, discipline and the will to keep going. 1000+ quality tracks is what it will take to rise above the noise and make a good living…
i deleted my tracks from productiontrax.as there hasnt been any sales for over a year,.Im only with Melodyloops and they are good but the money is small its a shame
productiontrax has been silent for me since ages. maybe it produced 10-15$ a year. but i’ll leave the tracks ther and i raised the prices…
melodyloop is nice but i get not so much traffic. i make maybe 100$ in a year with them. but uploading is so easy that i continue to put my loops there!
best has been pond5 and AJ. recently pond5 had a significant drop (from somehting less than 100$/month to around 50/month). AudioJ has been on average at about 60-80$/month recently, but it also dropped a bit.
last month was quite decent and this one is encouraging.
my big problem is that i don’t know how to market my music! :-/
That seems troubling that you are basing whether to stay with a site based on how easy it is to upload music. You should base your decision on sales instead.
Main Sales comes from pond5 and an. But if with very minimum effort I can upload music on other websites that generates some incomes, why not? In melody loops I don’t ever have to watermark the tracks…
I will not try other sites because uploading 100 songs on them will be a huge investment in time with no guarantee of return
The only new one I tried is Getty images music but I’m waiting a reply since this spring
well, actually i upload regularly on audiojungle, which has a very annoying uploading system, so your observation is not quite appropriate… 🙂
On AJ I upload 1 file a week, which is SOOO annoying!
on pond5 i upload my files using the bulk uploader and the template funcion, which is really the best system they can have conceived.
i feel that, while on AJ you get a very short exposure by being on the fron page after an upload, on P5 there is no such advantage, so i can upload all at once.
Hi Matteo, do you have a link to your music/website?
I cant get on pond 5.They want I.D from me that I dont have I.e. driving license or passport.
Hi. I just found this tread on the topic of making a living of royalty free music, some good info here: https://forums.envato.com/t/doing-audiojungle-as-a-full-time-job/18805/22 🙂
I have over 170 stock music tracks on prominent websites like Premiumbeat, Shutterstock Music and Shockwave-Sound and in my experience, I find that it really depends on the time and type of music that you compose. Because there is so much stock music out there, i think that quantity is as important as quality. What i often do to save time is re use templates of my tracks; change the melody and chords around and you have a whole new track, it’s an easy way to cover more ground and have more people actually buy your track!
That being said, I’m selling my own drum loops, many of which i use in my own tracks! They’re a great tool to get started/continue writing stock music and i’m giving a few of them away for free! Check it out! 🙂