"Artist" Music VS "Production" Music

Posted by Aaron Davison on Sunday, April 15, 2012 Under: April
There are essentially two different ways to go about pursuing licensing opportunities. On one hand, you can work to establish yourself as an artist.  You can write the songs you're inspired to write, play shows, record and sell CDs and pitch your music to whatever relevant licensing opportunities you come across.  
The other path is one where you write music specifically with licensing opportunities in mind.  I consider this type of music for the most part, "stock music" or "production music". Think "80's rock guitar riff" or "70's style funk rock". Musicians creating production music are generally anticipating a broad range of situations and styles of music that might be needed and then creating a diverse range of music.
In terms of licensing there are pros and cons to both approaches.  If you're an artist and you're basically making one style of music then you're going to have a smaller range of licensing opportunities that your music will be a good fit for.  Of course this will vary depending on what kind of music you make, how good it is and who you're pitching to etc... The upside though, is that if you're style is unique and you have a distinct "sound" you're going to be harder to replace.  There is a lot of "production" music and finding a generic sounding 80's rock song is very easy to do, they're a dime a dozen.  But finding a fresh, new artist with a distinct sound is much harder to replicate.
The other upside to being an "artist" is that the more established you are in your overall career; playing shows, selling CDs, having an internet presence and so on, the more attention you'll get from everyone in the industry.  Music licensing is ultimately about the music, but if you're established as an artist it can help when it comes to licensing opportunities. Some supervisors, especially for more high profile shows and films, are attracted to artists that are at least somewhat established as performers too.  The more you build your musical resume and the more credits you accumulate the more doors you'll find opening.
There's a need for both "production" music and "artist" music and you should pursue whichever path makes the most sense for your situation.  What are your goals?  Are you working to establish yourself as an artist that records CDs, performs, etc?  If so then write what you write and pursue licensing after the fact.  On the other hand if you're done with gigging and putting out CDs, etc.. then perhaps getting involved in the creation of production music makes more sense for you. Whichever path you choose, write music that you feel good about and that you're proud of.  Because at the end of the day, whether you license your music or not, it's really all about the music you make and the joy that comes from writing and creating great music!

In : April 

Tags: music licensing  production music  music publishing  songwriting 
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