Breaking Through The Confusion Of Stock Music - Part 3
In parts one and two of this series of blogs, I gave a brief explanation of what stock music is; why it's useful to know about it as a composer/music producer; the positives and negatives of exclusive and non-exclusive libraries; and some information about PROs. This week, I want to talk to you about my own experience with stock music.
Since getting my own laptop at the age of sixteen, I have loved writing my own music. The majority of it would probably be described as 'quirky synth music' but, having studied music at university and then composition at post-grad, when I decide to write something in a different, more professional style, I am able to because of this trained knowledge.
When I finished my Masters in 2016 at the age of twenty-five, I had around one-hundred-and-eighty original music works. Having had a brief insight about library music in one of my composition modules, I got to work researching stock music. I learned the difference between exclusive and non-exclusive and kept coming across forum posts of people encouraging going down the non-exclusive route simply because you could upload to more than one library.
THE LIBRARY EXPERIENCE
I soon found a list of non-exclusive libraries I could upload to. These included: Pond5, AudioJungle, 123RF, AudioMicro, MotionElements, ProductionTrax, Wizzy-Sounds, and LuckStock. If you've had any experience with uploading music to libraries, you'll know that not all your music gets accepted. The picky ones on this list were AudioJungle, Pond5, Wizzy-Sounds, and LuckStock. In fact, MotionElements doesn't even have a moderation process, you simply upload, put all the metadata in and then, with the click of a button, it's live.
Within a few months, I had managed to upload almost all of the one-hundred-and-eighty songs onto most of these libraries. A lot of you will shout at me when I say this but AudioJungle was so picky that I actually gave up submitting music to them, since it was such a long-winded process of making the watermark tracks yourself to only get rejected anyway. Also, at that point you could only upload five songs at a time with a waiting time of about two weeks for one of their team to acknowledge the songs. I knew then that AudioJungle was one of the best-selling sites, and I have now gone back to them to try uploading some better music now. It'll be a long process though since, as someone with a small portfolio, you can only upload two songs a month with the two-week long waiting time still ongoing.
I soon found that Pond5 was doing quite well. To this day, I've made more sales there than on any other library I'm a member of. AudioMicro did quite well in the first couple of years but stopped giving me sales at the end of 2019, despite me regularly uploading music. I also found that they give no option of mentioning your music is PRO-registered so I deleted my account earlier this year after signing up to the PRS. Equally, I left 123RF this year as well, whose sales were few and far between, because they don't allow PRO-registered music at all.
After Pond5, ProductionTrax was a good-selling library but sadly they shut their doors at the end of 2019. MotionElements moved into second place from third as being one of the better-selling libraries and continues to be a decent-selling library today. Wizzy-Sounds made occasional sales but they've been in the process of reworking their website for a long time now so I've not had sales on there for a while, though I'm still watching to see when the new site goes live since they do show PRO-registered music. LuckStock, to this day, having had music on there since March 2018, has had no sales despite all my songs having at least a hundred plays each. This is the next library in line to be deleted since they too show no way of mentioning your music is PRO-registered.
This particular library gets its own section because rather than me finding them, they found me, and there's a lot to go over. Based in China, they opened their doors in 2018 and sent me a message on Pond5 asking me to join as they liked my music. I imagine most authors on Pond5 got this message but I thought I'd go for it. It was at this point also, that I wised up to the fact that having multiple versions of your tracks is really important and makes them more desirable.
Rather than Pond5, where each track is uploaded individually, 100Audio (like AudioJungle) bundles all the versions into a package to sell at a higher price. Unlike AudioJungle, who only allow five versions (including the full track), 100Audio allow up to ten different versions, meaning you can put stems in as well as the usual 15s, 30s, 60s, loop, stinger, etc. This was very good to know and encouraged me to go back over all my songs and make these versions. Pond5 now has over one-thousand songs in my portfolio there but 100Audio is more streamlined with around two-hundred-and-ten packaged songs.
100Audio sales have been really good but because of chinese tax regulations, I only see a payout when my sales reach at least $180 chinese dollars. This then goes down to about $140 US dollars when it's sent through to my TransferWise account after tax. Upon conversion to sterling, it ends up being around £90. Therefore, I usually wait until I get, a) a bigger amount of sales and b) the conversion rate isn't so rubbish, before I ask for a payout.
Despite good sales, I've stopped uploading to 100Audio now. A year ago, I stupidly made the decision to go 'chinese-exclusive' with them since you'd be getting a higher percentage of the sale. I had thought at the time that cutting myself off from selling on other chinese libraries was fine but I've since discovered there are quite a few more that do very well, Vfine Music being one of these (MotionElements doesn't count since it's based in Singapore, which is a sovereign state). If I were to upload a song on 100Audio now, it instantly becomes a 'chinese-exclusive' track. If I want to continue uploading to them with the freedom to add to other chinese libraries, I have to open up another seller account with them as 'non-exclusive', which, for now, I don't want to do.
I also read recently that you can't delete your music from 100Audio, even if you have a 'non-exclusive' account. Only after the first five-year contract term are you given this choice and you have to do it quickly before the next five-year term starts, so be careful.
Today, I feel much more knowledgeable about stock music, though I know there is so much I still don't know. With the shutdown of ProductionTrax, and having deleted my AudioMicro and 123RF accounts, I am now only a member of Pond5, MotionElements, 100Audio, and Wizzy-Sounds, with a few tracks on AudioJungle, which gradually gets added to (LuckStock doesn't count due to the lack of sales).
I am now on the hunt for new non-exclusive libraries who mention the music is PRO-registered and am delving into the subscription-based libraries like Music Array and Artlist. I also recently signed up for Pond5 Publishing and have already had a few higher licensed sales from that. I've even started a separate portfolio of music specifically to be advertised to exclusive libraries when it's big enough.
There's still so much to discover and, although COVID has meant this past year has been slower than normal (which I think is the same for most music library sellers), I'm excited for what the future of stock music holds.
Let me know which libraries have worked best for you.