You’re probably looking at the title of this post and thinking: “Both.”
And in an ideal world, you’d be right. You’d pump out a large quantity of stunning music each month. Or each week. Yet for most of us, our higher quality tracks take us longer to write and produce than some of the other music we make.
So is it more important to just get lots of tracks out there to really play that numbers game that everyone talks about with production music, or create fewer tracks of higher quality? After all, I’ll bet you have heard some stunning music from some of the top library catalogues. (For the last couple of years, the most regular client doing orchestral recordings at London’s famous Abbey Road studios was a music library.) I’ll also wager that you’ve heard other music on TV and found yourself asking how on earth that got through the quality control net.
For the most part, the better the library, the better their clients and the more chance of your tracks getting placed on a production that can bring you in some decent money. Your tracks are going to have to be up there to get through the door of these libraries and have them add your music to their catalog. So when you’re approaching a new library, quality is paramount. Seriously: Aim to create the best music you can write.
More Music = More Money?
If it’s quality that it takes to get through the doors of these companies, what is the priority after that? At what point does it just become about getting as many tracks finished and out there as possible?
I thought it would be interesting to get the take of someone who has a lot of music out in the ecosystem. What are their conclusions to sustaining a career now that the placements are coming in?
New Zealand born Mark Petrie is a talented and very successful media composer. This quote from Mark gives a great insight into the quality vs quantity argument as it has applied to maintaining his career at the very top level. (I’ll put my thoughts on this quote below in the conclusion and would love to hear your thoughts in the comments box below too!)
“Quantity over quality isn’t a winning strategy.
“I probably make more from the last 200 tracks that I wrote, than the previous 2,000 combined. That’s because when I started out, I was in the mindset (and the gigs that force it) that more music out the door would always = more money.
“By spending a lot more time on each track – going from 1 or 2 a day, to one every 5 to 7 days – my annual income actually went up a lot.
“Quality music and production value opens the door to a lot of reuse, thematic use and higher end placements.
“It’s also the way to pop your head out from the mountains of OK to mediocre music swamping the world on a daily basis.”
You mostly can’t make much money with very few tracks out there. You also can’t make much money with lots of tracks out there that aren’t getting regularly chosen and placed by Library clients.
The balance between these factors also needs to also be interwoven with your personal income goals and the time available to you. Obviously, if you had a back catalogue of 2,000 published tracks out there and earning for you like Mark, you’d most probably have the luxury of more spare time to write than you do now.
So in those early days, there is certainly a balance to be had. What helps immeasurably with that, is a mid to long term plan.
I look into this in depth in the Library Music That Sells course, where we spend a whole module on Time Management. We look at quality and quantity over the long term, discuss the six essential tools for writing when your schedule is busy, plus look at the 3 rules (and several secrets and tips) to composing faster without sacrificing quality. We also cover the permutations for how many tracks you’d need to write and get placed, on average, to hit your annual income goals and walk you through how to customise that to create your own income plan and kickstart your earnings from your music.
If you’re serious about making royalties from your music, Music For Income’s “Library Music That Sells” course will give you all the guidance you’ll need to get your music most likely to get accepted by the worlds best Music Libraries, where those tracks can then starting making you a royalty stream.
You’ll get expert advice from formidable industry experts, major label executives, film editors and six-figure-a-year library composers. We’ll cover topics such as track formulas that Libraries love (regardless of genre), how to approach and form relationships with Libraries, organising your time, avoiding the mistakes that most composers make writing production music, plus a huge amount of other information to avoid you wasting years trying to figure out what works.
If you want to learn more about the Library Music That Sells course, sign up for 3 free lessons via the “Courses” tab above. Already seen these lessons but got some questions on whether the course is right for you? Drop us an email, (following address separated to avoid spam – join it all up to email!!) info @ musicforincome .com .
Great article! The other day I saw on some forum a guy who had 200+ tracks placed in various libraries, with absolutely zero placements. It was argued that the quality of these tracks maybe wasn’t the best.
I have maybe 30 tracks placed in maybe three different libraries and had a little more than half a dozen being placed and that brings som backend royalties. I’m not saying my tracks are of any higher standard, but it only goes to show quantity wise.
/Ulf H Pettersson
Very true, Ulf!