When you’re an aspiring composer, you can be as talented as they come, with access to cutting-edge resources and the best notation software, but there are some challenges that you are still likely to encounter. More often than not, it will take a while for your music to be noticed – and while you’re waiting for your big break, you’ll probably be on the lookout for ways to keep your bank balance in the clear by supplementing your income.

One avenue that often gets overlooked as an alternative source of income is submitting your music to be licenced by a music library. Here, we explore the benefits and drawbacks of submitting work to production libraries, as well as the ways to increase your chances of being accepted.

Should You Submit to Libraries?

A music production library is simply a catalogue of pre-recorded musical material that is available to be used by the producers of a range of media – from film and television to video games or promotional corporate videos. For a long time, their reputation as a dumping ground for generic, disposable stock music ensured that many composers and musicians gave them a wide berth. In recent years, however, the standing of libraries within the world of professional music has enjoyed something of a boost.

Music libraries are becoming an increasingly common method for composers to make extra money out of their work – not least because of the ease of submitting to them. As the Guardian recently reported, there is even a small, albeit growing, community of musicians who compose stock music for production libraries as their primary, full-time source of income [1].

Forging an entire career out of library stock music might not be the most appealing path for everyone, and the advent of AI programs for composing music may one day lead to libraries bypassing human contributions entirely. For now, however, using music libraries as a means of supporting yourself financially while you work on establishing your own career is a viable option that is well worth considering.

Tips for Submitting Your Work

The first step towards submitting your work should be to thoroughly research your options. Initially, you may wish avoid exclusive libraries that will prevent any other libraries from licensing the same music. Further down the line, when you have more of a feel for getting your work licensed by libraries, you may want to consider exclusive libraries if you feel that they’re the best investment for a particular piece of music.

With the exception of certain highly specialised libraries, the majority will not be looking for music in any particular style – most will accept anything they feel they can successfully licence. Generally, the work you submit should be shorter pieces of no more than two to two-and-a-half minutes. With the virtual instrument and playback functions of music scoring software now so advanced, the amount of time it takes to make these short, simple pieces has been reduced drastically. Creating multiple smaller pieces is therefore far more efficient than composing and submitting longer pieces of music.

The best way to contact a music library is through a professional email to a named recipient, containing links to a handful of your best, most demonstrative pieces of music. Many of the factors we mentioned in our blog on the art of self-promotion will come in handy here – in particular a strong, distinctive online presence.

Whether you’re planning on joining the new, niche world of full time stock-music composing, or are simply looking to create new income streams while you work on establishing your own career, music libraries are an option worth considering.

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/jun/10/make-music-income-stream-compose-stock-music