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Nov 16

How to make money selling theme tunes

Reading Time: 5 mins

If you’re reading this, chances are you have an interest in composing and want your music to be heard – sharing it online could be the first step to making your dreams become a reality.

And not only could you have your music heard – you might be able to make money from it as well!

So, whether you’re creating music in your bedroom as a hobby or you’re a music student in need of some spare cash, selling theme tunes could be the way forward.  

 

What you need: 

  • Creativity
  • Access to recording equipment or music composition software  
  • Access to a music stock library  

 

Why should you start selling your theme tunes and music? 

theme tunes on guitar

Composition is a form of self-expression; it can help us express emotions in a way we haven’t before. It can also help us illicit emotions in others which is why music is so often used in film, tv and advertising. Music can support a scene in a film to make us feel sad, happy or indifferent, it manipulates you to relate to a character. The same goes for advertisements, often car adverts have upbeat music, with clear beats that accompany the car driving down open roads. These tracks draw you in and make the prospect of the car seem more appealing.  

Much of this music is pulled from stock music websites, and this music is submitted by a wide range of people from professional composers to amateurs – there is a marketplace for everyone. Stock music websites are always looking for new music in a wide range of genres from pop to electronica to jazz, find a niche and you might hit the big time.  

 

So how much can you make? 

Whilst there are not many published figures around earnings from selling music online, some people have spoken about earning around $30,000 (about £22,000) a year selling music on stock music sites full-time. Of course not everyone will make this much, and it will depend on the amount of commission stock music platforms take from you per purchase of your music.  

 

How to get started:  

creating theme tunes

To start with you’ll need some music notation software, this comes in many forms, some you can record into using midi keyboards, others you just click on the page to create the notes. Depending on whether you’re just getting started or if you’ve been composing for a while will affect your choice of composition software. If you’re just starting it may be worth sticking to free software to begin with as some of the professional software is quite pricey.  

 

So, what is music notation software? 

 Music notation software is similar to a word processor – as you input information, it translates this to the screen. Music notation software began to be developed in the 1980s to reduce the need to hand produce scores before taking them to be professionally engraved for mass production. This software allows individuals to input, edit and play back music they enter using a mouse, computer keyboard or a MIDI keyboard.  

The ease of being able to edit automatically allows for easy fixing of errors, reducing the need for paper manuscripts and therefore making the music composition process easier. The automatic playback ability reduces the need for advanced piano skills as you can hear all parts at the same time as well as having the option to hear each part individually. They come preloaded with different instrumental sounds and allow you to create a score for anything from a single melody line to a full symphony orchestra.  

Downloadable programmes like Musescore are a great place to start as a beginner as they offer in application tutorials as well as allowing you to share your music for commercial use. Unlike some other free downloads, there is only one version of musescore and it is completely free, the only possible issue is the sound quality of the pre-loaded instruments.  

Other free options include Noteflight. Like musescore it’s a notation software but it’s solely online so doesn’t take up any space on your computer hard drive. The free version is limited to 10 instruments only but they do offer various subscription-based models. Unlike Musescore it allows you to upload your scores instantly to an online marketplace where they can be purchased by other users, which would cut out the need for a stock music platform.  

There are multiple paid for options of music production software, some like Sibelius are similar to Musescore where you click your desired tune onto the screen and others like Garage BandCubase and Mainstage use a mixture of hand notation and recording in by midi-keyboard. These types of software can range from £85 for basic versions to £500 for complete versions used in professional settings. Depending on how serious you are, your experience level and how much money you are willing to spend upfront will affect what software you get.  

 

Finding a platform to sell on: 

writing theme tunes

Different platforms have different advantages, from one-off payments to smaller payments each time your music is used. From films, adverts, YouTube videos to podcasts: music submitted to these sights can be used for a variety of things. Imagine turning on the TV one day just to hear your music in the latest car ad. Not only are you getting your music out there, you are also earning on the side. There are many reputable websites out there to share your music on, most have an application process before they publish your music to make sure it fits in with their brand.  

Websites like AudioSparx run multiple music stock libraries so signing up with them would allow your music to be distributed on multiple sites at once. They pay out quarterly but only if you have earned $25 that quarter, which is worth considering. You can apply with just three tracks and work your way up to a larger portfolio.  

Artlist also provides royalty-free music for film and tv. Like most services, they check that your music is yours and yours alone and that it can be licensed for use globally. Unlike other sites, they do require you to have a high-quality electronic press kit. It is worth considering this as it may be an extra upfront cost if you do not already have an EPK.  

PremiumBeat is a similar service to Artlist but doesn’t require you to have an EPK, although it does require your music to be exclusive to them whereas other services do not require this.  

Before committing to one service, it is best to do your own research to see what works best for you, whether that’s exclusivity, regular pay-outs or a service to nurture your talents. There is a service out there for everyone. It is worth remembering you may not be accepted straight away but don’t let this discourage you. Keep creating, innovating and applying and hopefully one day in the future you’ll be hearing your music on the TV. 

 

So now you know the basics why not give it a go and try your hand at selling your theme tunes. You might be the next big thing.  

 

Disclaimer: MoneyMagpie is not a licensed financial advisor and therefore information found here including opinions, commentary, suggestions or strategies are for informational, entertainment or educational purposes only. This should not be considered as financial advice. Anyone thinking of investing should conduct their own due diligence.

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