The Worth Of Your Old Compositions (Don't Delete Them)

As composers, we're expected to constantly write new music for commissions but what happens to all our old music that we dismiss as not good enough? Are we right to ignore it, leave it behind, or delete it?

THE BACK CATALOGUE


Whether you write music professionally or as a side income, you've probably come up with loads of ideas over the years to the point where you have a lot of compositions in your back catalogue. Now ask yourself, how many of those have been used in projects or uploaded to a selling platform?


If you're like me, you might have realised that by sifting back through your old DAW projects, you will soon discover a lot of unfinished or finished songs that either weren't accepted by the client who commissioned the work or were written on a whim. At first thought, these might seem useless but you'd be surprised at the worth these songs have.


OLD SONGS, NEW INCOME


The first thing I try to do with unfinished work, when I have the time to in quiet periods (eg. pandemic), is to re-listen to what I had and see if any creativity sparks so that I can finish the song. You might be thinking 'that's all well and good but what's the point when no one has asked for this song?'.


I wrote a series of blogs a few months back about writing music for music production libraries. Usually, these libraries require you to have a fair few songs ready to upload straight away (about 40+) and, although most libraries curate the uploads with varying degrees of strictness, a few out there don't curate the music at all.


Before joining music libraries like Pond5, MusicElements, and 100Audio, I had about one hundred old songs, dating back to 2010, that had never been commissioned and so just sat there on my hard drive, taking up space. By thinking 'what the hell, maybe they'll be worth something', I decided to upload these to libraries and see what would happen. It made me realise that, even if you have a song you think is rubbish, someone out there in the big wide world will like it and potentially buy it.


THE VALUE


To this day, the one song I believe to be my worst (and cheesiest) sells the most. I've talked before about the music libraries I'm a member of but I also recently joined Motion Array and, despite them getting a little annoyed at me 'shotgun' uploading my old work, they've accepted eighty-one tracks so far. With April being my first full month with the library, and having about fifty songs on there during that time, I made $362. This month, in only ten days, I've made $125 so far.


Say what you want about subscription-based libraries but, whether you join Motion Array and similar subscription libraries or you try a library like Pond5 where the sales are per song, you will find that your old music does have value. So why leave it on your hard drive doing nothing but taking up space?


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