Shaun's Blog

How do composers earn money? – library music

blog main image - library music

On Friday I delivered a talk about the music I have written over the last 30 years to a room packed full of school-children. 9 children’s musicals, an award winning violin concerto movement, an album of songs for a 15 piece band, piano works; the amount of “stuff” I’ve written was mind-blowing to me – and I wrote it! Nearly all of these works were written because of opportunities that presented themselves, rarely for financial gain. For example “Chained Freedom” was written for my Iraqi friend, Wassim, whilst I was living in Dubai. The Ripple Effect was written to raise money at a charity evening following the devasting Asian Earthquake in 2005.

Recently, however, I have been exploring ways of earning an income from my love of writing music. One project that has started to bear fruit is music I co-wrote with the owner of Sylvafield Studios, Ed bersey, for inclusion in the Grey Man Production Music library. During the school holidays we would write and record tracks to a theme – Arabia, Optimism or Journalism for example – then Ed would submit them to the library for approval. Some music would be rejected, some would be accepted and other pieces would require some editing.

What was brilliant for me was that I loved every minute of the creative process, especially writing with someone else which meant we could bounce ideas off each other. After we had submitted a couple of albums we were asked to contribute towards collaborations with other composers. Two years on from our first inclusion the money is trickling in. Also my music is being played on TV, and every three months I receive a statement listing the programmes featured. To date these include Panorama, Good Morning Britain, This Morning, Home Front Heroes and Why Can’t We Sleep? You can hear a short extract starting at 11.38 by clicking the image below.

It is possible to earn a living this way and once producers get to know your style they may use your music several times. Library music gave me the opportunity to write when I had the time and reap the benefits without having to spend time on promotion; this suited my family and employment situation and gave a little extra money on the side.

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