Finding the best Music Libraries to Join

Best Music Libraries

So you’ve spent time composing, mixing and exporting your track, you’re feeling proud of your progress so far, but now you need somewhere to license your music. This is where you need to do some research into best music libraries available.

It’s pretty obvious, but at this point, Google (alternative search engines are available) is your friend.

Search for ‘stock music’ or ‘production music’, and the first page of results will likely include the largest and most popular libraries – and those with the biggest marketing budgets.

You’ll probably find that the big, royalty free libraries will be the first to appear in your search results. If you’re just starting out, these are the ones I’d recommend applying to first, because:

  • You can begin to earn income very quickly, as they generally pay commission monthly.
  • They are a great way to get used to the track submission workflow, which includes uploading, tagging and pricing.

Another resource I highly recommenced is Music Library Report, which has a comprehensive database containing nearly all of the libraries out there. Members can rate and honestly comment on each library.

The website charges a small fee for full access, but it’s definitely worth signing up for at least a month just so you can collate a shortlist of libraries you’d like to apply to.

How many libraries should you join?

When I first started out, I applied to pretty much every library I came across. It wasn’t long before I realised this wasn’t an efficient way to work.

Every library will require extra time to upload, tag and price, depending on how easy their administration system is, this can take from a minute to 10 minutes per track.

Today, I’ve whittled over 20 libraries down to 5 ‘ non-exclusives’ and 3 ‘exclusives’.

Digging a bit deeper

So you’ve put together a list of libraries that you want to apply to. At this point make sure you ‘read the fine print’. Find out as much about the library as you can before contacting them. Here are a few things to look out for.

Best Selling Genres

Every library, whether through design or chance, will typically sell more music in a particular genre. A quick search for their best selling tracks will often let you know what they are pretty quickly.

It’s well worth investigating a libraries strongest selling genre before you apply, to make sure you’re style ‘fits’ and you won’t be wasting your time.

Pricing and Commission Rates

Personally, I prefer libraries that let me set my own price, but there are several that have standard pricing that is set automatically and applied to all music. It’s up to you as to whether you think the fixed pricing model is suitable.

Commission varies from 30%-60% of each sale. Again, weigh the commission rate against the price of the track. 30% of a higher track price could be better than 60% of a lower price.

Payment Methods

The vast majority of libraries will use Paypal to pay your commission. Some will offer alternatives, higher-end exclusives may pay directly into your bank account. I’ll be covering this in more detail in Finances.

Date of Payment

Check how often the library pays your commission and on what date. In general, these will be on the 1st or the 15th of the month. A few may pay quarterly, but these are quite rare.

Most libraries will pay automatically once your earnings reach a certain threshold, but others require to you request payment each month.

I strongly recommend withdrawing your earnings as soon as you can. I once lost almost $1,000 in commission when one library ceased trading and vanished off the face of the earth.

Terms and Conditions

Always read the terms and conditions. Yes, it’s boring, but now and again you may find something you seriously need to consider.

  • Does the library forbid you from submitting the same music to competitors (often due to their low price point)?
  • Does the library automatically apply Content ID to your music?
  • Does the library forbid the submission of music with Content ID?
  • Does the library prohibit the submission of music registered with a PRO?

Minimum Submission Requirements

Library requirements for initial submission can vary wildly, you’ll probably find the application process falls into these categories.

  • You can start uploading and selling music by simply opening an account, no application process required.
  • The library requires you to submit 2 to 5 tracks as examples of your work before approving your account.
  • The library needs you to provide a minimum amount of tracks before your account is activated. This can range from 20 to 50.

Responsiveness

Once you have been approved for a library, there is often very little reason to contact them unless you’re working on exclusive music that requires feedback or are working with their music supervisors directly.

With automated reports and payment systems, you can generally get the information you need from their web interface without the need to contact support directly.

Of course, now and again things can go wrong. A payment may be incorrect, or may not arrive in your account, or you may have issues uploading new tracks using their system.

It’s at times like these that you’ll become aware of how quickly a library responds, how helpful they are and how professional they appear.

If you find dealing with them to be a chore, there may come a time where you consider if you still want to contribute to the library.

Jon Wright

Jon Wright, is a composer based in London, UK. His music has featured on networks including NBC, CBS, Discovery, History, EuroSport, and the BBC.