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  • Writer's pictureRandy McGravey

Can You Still Charge Decent Rates for Selling Music on RF Sites?

I don't talk about Royalty Free sites too often, but today we will discuss pricing on RF sites. This was actually a decent earning month for me on royalty-free sites. I don't typically "waste" my time writing specifically for RF libraries anymore, but when I have spare/old tracks I will sometimes dump them into these sites. Uploading every once in a while does help get your music get seen because of their algorithms.

Here is my hierarchy of what I typically do with tracks I've finished.

  • Submit to high end exclusive libraries (assuming the quality is there)

  • If that doesn't work, try submitting to mid-tier exclusive libraries

  • If that doesn't work, hang onto tracks in case a brief comes up (unless it is still a full album of music)

  • If that doesn't work or I still have a full album available, try more boutique libraries

  • If all else fails, I put the tracks into Royalty-Free libraries

This post was inspired by some recent (and decent) sales I had. I was looking through my spreadsheet of exclusive tracks (which I recommend having) and I noticed there were a handful of Hawaiian tracks I did for a brief back in late 2021. The tracks are decent quality, and I don't anticipate writing an entire album of that style (or a similar brief appearing). So my solution was to upload them to my typical RF sites. Lo and behold, I had 2 sales in the first week on one site and I still price my tracks around $49.

On another site I also made some decent sales this month, including some of my "artist" music. I typically price my stuff between $49 and $59 per track. Some of these libraries offer subscription deals now (like Pond5) so there are multiple types of sales, some for low dollars or pennies. There is still something to be said about knowing your worth. I believe that there are still clients out there that are willing to pay for quality and who don't have a need for a subscription. The general vibe of RF sites seems to be medium quality stuff targeted for YouTubers.

I have never been a fan of the subscription model that is now dominating the non-exclusive market (hence my switch to exclusive libraries a few years ago). For anyone who wants to get into the RF market, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND not joining any libraries that offer a Free Trial to clients. The free trial could give them 1 week access to download the entire catalog and leave you with nothing and never sign up! Ironically, some subscription libraries are actually very picky now too.

Anyway, I do still get semi-regular sales on RF sites from my early library days. I never lowered my rates to be "more competitive" and in fact I raised my rates when Pond5 changed their songwriter split from 50% to 35%. The RF market can be a little icing on the cake, but my bread and butter comes from TV libraries these days.

If you are dipping into the RF market, just know your worth. I've never heard of any composer that makes a living these days purely working with subscription and RF libraries. Maybe it was possible back in 2014 or earlier.

Also (not targeting anyone in particular) there are some YouTube channels that hype up the non-exclusive market, but they are honestly outdated and probably run by composers that make a living trying to sell stuff to aspiring composers rather than making income from music licensing!

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