Every library has a different audience and target. Some will specialize in trailer music for high end films and games, while others will target a more mainstream audience.
One thing that composers need to keep in mind: the music has to be commercial in order to appeal to a wide audience. If it’s too experimental or obscure (for example: atonal/contemporary music), it will likely be rejected because it won’t sell well. Don’t forget: music libraries are online stores after all!
WHAT ARE LIBRARIES LOOKING FOR
Libraries are looking for tracks that are commercially viable with good production value. The genre doesn’t really matter, as long as the music sound professional.
Most of the time, these tracks will be sold to YouTube content creators and can be used for make-up tutorials, to time-lapse videos, to background music.
The music needs to be well composed and produced without being too repetitive or boring. The best way to know what sells is by listening to popular tracks on the library’s website.
Nowadays, libraries are receiving more and more content with a rising of the general quality of the tracks. Usually reviewers will rarely reject a track based on 1 criteria. Most of the time, it’s a combination of many reasons that makes them reject the track.
There are two types of rejection scenarios:
- Rejection scenario #1: If the track isn’t commercial or has too many problems, it will get rejected with no chance of change.
- Rejection scenario #2: If the track has commercial potential but has little technical details that can make it better or that need to be fixed such as file formatting, structure or mixing problems such as distortion on the master, the reviewer will write a message to the composer asking them to fix the issues.
THE MOST COMMON MISTAKES THAT LEAD TO REJECTION
Composer didn't read the rules
- Title is not correctly capitalized
- The description doesn't match the track
- Titles don’t make sense in English
- Title uses a trademarked word
- Irrelevant or no tags
- Trying to spam / cheat the search engine
- Too many variations
- Incorrect or no watermarking
- File formatting is not correct
- Preview and main file are completely different
- Main zip has the watermark or preview file
- Watermark volume is too low
- Corrupted zip file
- Loops that don’t loop seamlessly
- Track is too repetitive / boring
- Melody is too basic or not strong enough
- Composition is too quirky or cheesy
- Bad or busy orchestration / arrangement
- Pastiche / Copyright infringement
- Composition contains sound effects
- Composition has lyrics and no instrumental version
- Singers with heavy accents
- Obscene, racist or offensive lyrics
- Outdated samples (Synthy strings/brass/whistling)
- Bad phrasing (too laid-back, badly quantized)
- Bad mix (too boomy, muddy, or aggressive harmonics)
- Outdated samples
- Out of tune instruments or vocals
- Bad quality recording
INSTRUMENTAL VERSIONS OF SONGS
Some libraries might ask composers to submit an instrumental version of a song because it allows producers to switch to the instrumental version when needed to avoid mix conflict with the dialogue. This is especially common in the world of television where production schedules are very tight and the episode turnarounds are very fast.
Who are the reviewers
The answer depends on which music library they're working for, but in general, libraries hire very experienced music professionals with high music education. Most reviewers are also very successful composers for one or more libraries, film composers, game composers or music producers. Some of them have worked with high-profile artists or productions, and some of them have won many awards and are recognized and respected by their peers and industry.
They are carefully recruited by libraries among hundreds of applicants for their experience as well as their critical listening abilities and knowledge in both composition and production, as well as their understanding of the commercial stock music market.
In order to avoid being flooded with emails and feedback requests from composers through their personal emails or social media, reviewers tend to keep a low profile on their position.
Generic review messages in some libraries:
- The amount of music that needs to be reviewed is huge.
- Like any employee, the performance of reviewers is also monitored and they are expected to process a certain number of tracks per hour in order to keep a constant flow.
- Every track is unique and requires a lot of attention, but writing a custom message takes at least an extra 10 minutes to make sure every point is covered while making sure the message is easy to understand and written in a friendly and professional tone.
- Deploying custom messages in some situations can become a nightmare from a management point of view if the composer has bad attitude or doesn’t agree with the reviewer's decision because they “don't understand their art” (yes, the drama is real and it happens way more often than you think!)
MAKING SURE OF BEING HEARD
The bigger the library, the more offer buyers have when searching the site, the fewer chances of being found. Many great music pieces are barely ever heard because they’re badly indexed and are rarely found. The best would be investigating how their search engine works and in which priorities. Is it the keywords in the description that matter more than tags? Is it the tags in the title? This information can help find different strategies to avoid being lost in the mass of offers.
CHOOSING SMALLER LIBRARIES
In some cases, going with a smaller library can be a better idea. A smaller library can have a more specialized genre for whom they might be known. Smaller libraries can be picky about the number of composers they accept to work with, but they can also deliver very detailed feedback to composers in exchange of exclusivity or a different deal.