I did a live webinar a couple weeks ago, exclusively for members of How To License Your Music Premium. I’m doing one live webinar a month for members of the new premium site, focusing on different topics related to music licensing. The most recent webinar focused on how to build connections with music libraries and music supervisors and featured myself, TV composer Eddie Grey and music producer Gary Gray.
During the webinar, one of the questions that came up at the end was about how to stay motivated when you’re new to the industry and things aren’t going the way you want them to go. How do you stay motivated when you’re trying and trying to get your music career off the ground, but you haven’t yet achieved the success you’re hoping for?
This is a good question, because I think it’s all too easy to get thrown off track when you’re new to licensing, or even if you’ve been at it awhile, if you lose sight of a few important things. If you’re only focused on your lack of results, it can easily prevent you from taking the necessary steps to reach your goals. So, with that in mind, here are a few things to keep in mind and help you stay motivated and positive, even if you haven’t yet reached your licensing and music career goals.
It Takes Time
One of the things that you have to keep in mind related to licensing, is that it takes time. Almost everyone that I’ve interviewed and worked with over the last ten years that is doing licensing on a full-time level, has indicated that it took at least a few years for things to get to the point where they could live off the income they make from licensing. The exact time frame varies from person to person. I’ve heard two years, four years and even longer as the length of time it took for different composers to reach the point of making a sustainable income from licensing their music.
As my friend and composer Eddie Grey stated on a recent episode of my podcast, this business is a marathon not a sprint. Don’t get discouraged if you’re not seeing a ton of results right out of the gate. It’s normal. It takes most writers a couple years or more to really get things rolling with licensing. If you think about the way the business works and the nature of the music licensing business, this makes complete sense. Even in the absolute best-case scenario of writing a song today and licensing it tomorrow, it still takes time to get paid, collect performance royalties and so on. Music Licensing is a slow-moving industry. Of course, you probably won’t license your music that quickly. Most likely it will take time to write and record tracks, build connections, start getting placements and so on. You can avoid a lot of frustration in the beginning of your licensing career if you’re aware of this fact and go into the business with open eyes.
Focus On The Work
Because things do take time to get rolling in the beginning. The best use of your time will be focusing on doing the work. Focus on building and growing your catalog, making connections, signing with different libraries and so on. It makes no sense to get discouraged about not getting the results you want immediately and letting that throw you off track. Instead, focus on the things that need to be done, that you can actually control. The more you do this, the quicker results will come.
With a few exceptions, most of the writers I know that make a full-time income from licensing, have very large catalogs. Think anywhere from 500 to 1,000 or more tracks and cues. Licensing is a numbers game and the more tracks you have that will potentially work in a broad range of applications, the more money you’ll be able to make from licensing. Again, there are exceptions and some types of placements pay considerably more than others, but you should always focus on growing your catalog and continuing to write great material. When you write new tracks, you’re exponentially increasing your odds of getting more placements. Don’t rest on your laurels once you start getting placements and become comaplacent. Instead, keep writing new music, so that you’ll always have more tracks you can license down the road.
Stay Connected To Your Passion For Music
One of the best ways to stay motivated and positive about your music, when you’re not getting the results you want, is to simply stay connected to why you love music in the first place. I think most musicians have a love for music that transcends simply wanting to make money from music. Stay in touch with that.
I’ve had periods in the past where my frustration about the business of music led me to temporarily losing touch with my passion for music. Don’t let that happen to you. The music business and the music you make, that comes from you heart and soul, are two very different things. Don’t ever forget that.
Whenever I find myself getting discouraged or down about music, which fortunately doesn’t happen that often anymore, I simply go back to writing music from a place of joy and passion. I’m more prolific when I’m in touch with my passion for music, I tend to write better music and ultimately I end up licensing more music and making more money from my music as a result.
First and foremost, I’m in touch and connected with my love of music. I’ve often said, that as much as I love licensing my music, I’m not overly concerned or even that excited with any particular placement or usage of my music. Don't get me wrong, I of course am super grateful for every opportunity that has come my way and getting paid for my music is extremely satisfying. But, ultimately, it’s more about the joy of writing songs, building my catalog and trusting the process.
In the end, all you can really do is write the best music you’re capable of writing and connect it with as many people as possible. If you’re persistent in doing this and you do this consistently over a period of several years, you can realistically reach a point where you can live off the income you’re making from licensing, or at the very least, supplement your income in a substantial way. But to focus on the business of music at the expense of your love and passion for music doesn’t make sense to me, because even if you end up becoming successful, if you’re not enjoying it, you’ll end up with just another “job”. I don’t know about you, but that’s not why I got into the music business.
Speaking of my love for music, check out my latest track, produced by Gary Gray, called “You’ll Be On My Mind”. We just finished this track a couple weeks ago and just signed this to a new publishing/licensing deal this week.
The blog of musician and thinker of deep thoughts, Aaron Davison.