Royalty-free game music composers: Avoid going exclusive!



Getting into royalty-free music can be a good approach if you’re a game composer looking to earn more, and potentially land new clients as well.


But there’s one thing you should carefully consider before embarking on your royalty-free music adventure: Do you want to sell your royalty-free music exclusively or non-exclusively?


When signing up as a new author, many stock music sites ask you if you want to be an exclusive or non-exclusive author on the site. For any royalty-free music site, having unique content is a valuable asset, and that’s why they really want you to go exclusive.


Being a non-exclusive author means that you put your music up for sale on the royalty-free music site, but you can freely sell the music elsewhere as well. Being exclusive means that only the given royalty-free music site can sell the tracks you submit to the site (note: You can still do whatever you want with tracks you haven’t submitted for exclusive sale on a site).


The commission is of course higher if you’re an exclusive author rather than a non-exclusive one (50%+ commission vs 33% commission per sale), so it could be tempting.


But don’t go exclusive, unless you know exactly what you’re doing and have a clear plan in mind!

If you do, you could be severely limiting your options for making money off the music in other contexts.


Here are three reasons why you shouldn’t go exclusive:



1. You can’t try out different sites

There are hundreds of royalty-free music sites around, and picking the right one for you is almost a science in itself.


Some sites offer great commissions on tracks, but may not have a huge number of potential buyers, others sell tracks at a higher price and have bigger-budget buyers who purchase fewer tracks but are willing to pay more, while others still may attract a certain crowd of buyers who are going for very specific genres.


It can be hard to tell from the get-go what works best for your music, so you want to test the waters before uploading all your music and locking yourself in with just one site.


Upload a good selection of tracks to each site and see where your music sells. When you find a site that generates good sales numbers, focus on building your catalogue on that site.


If you go exclusive from the beginning, you lose this important way of determining what site is right for you.


2. You can’t sell direct to your clients

As a game composer, there’s a clear advantage in maintaining a catalogue of tracks you can sell on a non-exclusive basis. Perhaps you’ve been brought in as a custom composer on a game project and the client wants more music than initially planned. Only problem is that the client has almost used up their entire music budget. Being able to offer a few tracks on a non-exclusive basis ensures that they get the music they need, and you make a sale in a situation where you wouldn’t have otherwise if you had to compose all-new music for them.


Just make sure your client is aware that they’re getting those tracks on a non-exclusive basis to avoid misunderstandings down the line.


And the best part is that you can sell that music again and again, so while the initial price may be low, you can still turn a healthy profit on it from repeat sales – and keep your clients happy at the same time.



3. You can’t sell your music on your own site

Royalty-free music sites take a large chunk out of your profits in commission (40%-70%, depending on the site). And what do you get from the money you’re essentially paying them for selling your tracks? They do the legwork of bringing in buyers for your tracks, allow you to have a nice-looking profile on their site and sometimes even feature your work to allow you sell more.


But what if you’re pretty good at marketing yourself?


If you’ve got the skills and the right eyeballs on your website – ie. game developers -, maybe you’d be better off selling your music on your own site.


That way, you can set your own price, cut out the middleman eating half or more of your profits – and get more direct contact with your clients too.


Build a catalogue of your tracks, sort them and label with fitting descriptions, tags and other relevant info, define your licensing terms and allow your visitors to buy the tracks via Paypal or similar services. You can even do this while still having music up on stock music sites.


If you’re an exclusive author on a stock music site, you just can’t do this with material you’re selling exclusively on that site. So you’d be missing out on yet another way of reaching potential buyers.



If you find that a royalty-free music site is really good at selling your stuff, you can always change your mind down the road and go exclusive. You just have to stop selling your selected tracks via all other channels. Alternatively, you can set up a separate account on your favorite music site where you upload tracks that are only sold through that site.



I hope this has given you an idea on why going non-exclusive is probably the best approach for you. How are you going about selling your music as a games composer? Share your tips and ideas in the comments below.


Good luck with your music!


- Asbjoern

Posted by Asbjoern on October 8, 2012 - Contact

Category Game composers,Music For Games Tags , , , , , Leave a comment

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on reddit Share on StumbleUpon Share on Add to Google Bookmarks Share on Digg Share on Technorati Subscribe to the RSS-feed

Go back