How To Make Money as a Composer

Updated: Oct 28




If you are like me, you have spent a lot of time studying music, performing music, and creating music. You have decided that you want to follow the career paths of some of your biggest heroes in life. You aim to create music that delights the soul. You are a Composer, but you just don’t know how to use that to cover your bills. As a Composer and Professional in the Sheet Music Industry, I have been exploring the different ways that Composers can turn their music into their future.

Music for Education

Composers can self-publish their compositions that are catered to school ensembles and solo musicians. These publications can be purchased through several places, and once online can be purchased year-round. Typically, the best selling pieces are ones written for Middle School and High School Musicians. There are many ways you can sell music to schools, whether directly to the directors of the ensemble or through several retailers with online marketplaces.

Finding the right online marketplace to sell your compositions can be challenging, but there are some great options available that make it easy and painless to distribute your music to customers.

SMP Press by Sheet Music Plus SMP Press allows composers to sign up for free and upload their music to the Sheet Music Plus marketplace, making their compositions available for sale via digital download. For each sale, composers can earn 45% of the sale of original compositions or public domain arrangements and 10% of the sale on copywritten arrangements licensed through the ArrangeMe program that they offer.

My Score by J.W. Pepper J.W. Pepper gives composers the opportunity to reach school and church ensembles all over the world through their My Score program. Composers can pay a one-time fee of $99, and have their compositions be available for sale through their Print on Demand service as well as their ePrint service. The Print on Demand option gives composers the opportunity to have professionally printed and bound scores available for sale, without needing the overhead for having stock readily available. For each sale, Composers can earn 50% of the sale for digital downloads, and 25% of the sale for printed sales.

Royalty-free Music

Composers can write music that is readily available for content creators and corporate needs by writing library music that is available royalty-free, meaning composers only get the upfront payment and no re-occurring payments for using the music. One of the best places to upload music for Royalty-free libraries is AudioJungle. AudioJungle allows Composers and Producers to earn 50% of the sale if they are an executive author, and 30% if they are non-executive.

Some other places you can sell royalty-free music are Storyblocks, Epidemic Sound, Soundstripe, and plenty of others. All of these have similar royalty payments, splitting the sale 50/50.

Music for Media

Composers can collaborate with creators of many types of media to create scores that accompany the creator's project. One of the best-known ways to do this is by writing music as a Film Composer. Other ways to write music for media would be music for Television, Commercials, Video Games, or even Museums. Typically Composers for Media have a contract that includes an upfront payment, a completion payment, and royalty payments that allow the composer to continue to earn based on viewership of the Film/TV Show/Commercial.

Composition Lessons

Composers can also make money by helping educate the future composers of the world by providing one on one lessons with students. These lessons can be a fixed rate of anywhere between $25-$200 per half-hour lesson, depending on the experience of the composer and availability. This option can be a great opportunity to pass on your knowledge and ideas to younger composers that are looking to develop their abilities and skills. Providing Services to Other Composers

Some Composers are more entrepreneurial than others — having the skills and knowledge to create a full publication and marketing plan along with having the creative mind to compose. A Composer can help other Composers by providing engraving services or MIDI enhancement services to an existing composition.

Overall, Composers have many creative ways to build income streams that can help propel them further in their careers. Let me know if I left anything out!

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