Music has always existed.   The manners in which composers profit from music has changed and evolved over time.  Since no one has a perfect crystal ball, the wisest strategy is often to diversify income sources as a way to balance risk and reward in your portfolio of potential earnings.   By spreading it around, exposure to any one type of asset is limited, thus helping to reduce volatility of your overall financial career over time. 


Years ago the handwriting was on the wall that traditional record sales were no longer going to generate the same levels of income that they had previously.  Most who put all of their eggs in the physical record sale business suffered tremendously.   Those who turned to it as but one source of income could weather that change much better. 


There are a great number of shifts impacting PRO royalties including lower blanket license fees for streaming vs. broadcast and the greater number of program slices dividing up that financial blanket.   In addition, trends towards “direct licensing” may further make primary reliance on PRO income more volatile.  

Efforts against some of these changes may hold back some of these shifts (I highly recommend involvement in YourMusicYourFuture for further education and discussion on this).  And, for many reasons, the business model of heavy reliance on royalties may not be prudent in the long term. 


Fortunately, composers have a wide range of options.  They are not tied to location, single employers, long term agreements and, most importantly, only one source of earnings.  Composers can diversify their financial career portfolios to include composing for film, television, streaming, commercials, libraries, games, trailers, theme parks, theatre, concerts, live performance, recordings, songs, art installations and everything else that uses music.  

Composers can also function in various capacities.  They can be employees, employers, entrepreneurs, artists, producers and performers.  They can be arrangers, orchestrators, music editors, recordist, mixers and programmers.  They can pull from a mixture of revenue streams including upfront fees, bonuses, publishing, royalties, mechanical income, artist and producer royalties, print income, sync and master licenses, ticket sales, advances, deferred payments, packaging income and other forms of earnings.  Composers can look for gigs and they can also create them.  


It is probably part of human nature to want to hold on to the landscape that we know, especially if it is working for us.   Part of us wants to achieve our own version of success and then lock it in for life even though we know that isn’t realistic.  And part of us welcomes shifts and changes and new challenges.  We thrive on evolution and reinvention.  And all of these leads to the timeless and sage advice: