Music licensing is no longer exclusive to major labels and publishers. Small businesses and content creators all over the world now have direct access to the soundtracks they need.

Cover image via Nikolastock.

The rise of online and mobile video, video advertising, and inexpensive and user-friendly video production tools have all increased the demand for production music. And behind every piece of production music is a composer.

We understand artists because we are artists. We truly understand the value of their work, so we choose our contributors very carefully in order to devote the time and energy each needs. This allows us to maintain a consistently high level of quality in the tracks we offer. We also communicate with our contributors on a regular basis to track their progress and make sure their musical direction meets our needs and expectations. (And because we love a good chat.)

Our relationship with contributors is important to us, and we want to continue investing in their success. With that goal in mind, we thought we’d share how you can become a successful production music composer and join us at Shutterstock and PremiumBeat.


Why Become a Contributor?

How You Can Become a Shutterstock Music Contributor — Become a Contributor
Image via SJ Travel Photo and Video.

Every day, companies, advertising agencies, video editors, and filmmakers big and small need more and more musical content — and many of them turn to us for the perfect soundtrack. You can take advantage of this opportunity by contributing your work to PremiumBeat/Shutterstock Music.

We’re a Leading Source of Revenue for Composers

Over the past 10 years, we’ve sold over 1 million licenses to more than 250,000 customers in 195 countries. Some of our top contributors have built successful businesses around our model. In fact, most of our composers have been working with us for several years.

We’re Flexible

We don’t impose deadlines or volume requirements on our artists — so take the time you need to deliver high-quality tracks. Want some time off to work on other projects? Have to go on tour? No problem. We understand your needs.

We treat our contributors with respect, and while you’re working with us, we’ll make sure you know whom to contact if you have questions or need any help with the creative process. We genuinely love working with our artists and watching them develop.

Benefit from Our Success

Based in Montreal, our continuously growing team works hard and invests in marketing strategies and customer service to ensure that our site is a favorite amongst music licensers. As a technology company, our product teams are always looking for new ways to improve experiences for both customers and contributors.


What Buyers Want

How You Can Become a Shutterstock Music Contributor — Demand
Image via Ongkan.

To maximize your success, you need to know what buyers want. The truth is, it requires a certain investment of time, talent, and equipment to compose, produce, mix, and master a quality track. Here are a few tips regarding the key elements of top-selling tracks to get you on the right path.

They Have “Commercial Value”

“Commercial value” represents the likelihood that your song will be useful to a creative buyer. Since many songs are licensed for commercial, corporate, marketing, or advertising uses, the more attractive and usable a composition is (for the broadest range of applications), the higher its “commercial value.”

Top-Notch Production Quality

Unfortunately, poor production quality is often why we deny submissions. We pride ourselves in offering only high-quality music. Don’t think that snare sits quite right? Chances are it doesn’t. Spend the time to get your track in the best shape possible. When you think you’ve got it, compare your tracks to some of our best sellers. Sound as good? Awesome! If it doesn’t, keep working. Diversify your sounds. Don’t always use the same synth pads or the same plugins. Our best composers are continually investing in different gear and creating new sounds.

Good Structure

Production music doesn’t mean cheesy music. Don’t write songs you think we want. Write the songs you want to write. If they work for us, that’s great news. If they don’t, you have a brand new song. Familiarize yourself with production music. The structure is a little different. Hooks hit hard and fast. Avoid slow builds and monotonous composition; instead, aim for rising tone and quick compositional development. Our top-selling songs are predictable yet still authentic.

Stay Up-to-Date

Most of our clients are looking for popular, mainstream music, so keep that in mind when producing your tracks.


Tips & Tricks for Creating the Best Production Music


Image via Be Good.

Real instruments

Use as many real instruments as possible without sacrificing sound quality.

Keep a Good Flow

Don’t repeat the same motif throughout the song without developing it. Buyers browse through songs quickly, so keep things concise and don’t drag anything out.

Spend Time on Your Mix

Our best-selling tracks are clean and polished. Make sure every instrument has its own space and there is no “mud” to the sound.

Set the Hooks Early

To catch attention, set the hooks early in your tracks and maintain interest throughout the song by adding a new element every 4, 8, or 16 bars.

Envision the Buyer

Keep your purpose in mind during the composition process. Try to think of who will use your track and why. Many of our tracks accompany voice-overs, TV shows, and commercials. So envisioning scenarios that your music would benefit is a great way to compose in a specific direction. Find a recent advertisement on YouTube with a similar style of music. Mute the video’s sound and see how your track fits. Be honest and objective. Does it work with the visual? Is there something you could change that could make it work better?

Mastering

If mastering is not your cup of tea, outsource it to get the best final product.


Our Requirements

How You Can Become a Shutterstock Music Contributor — Requirements
Image via PrinceOfLove.

We don’t ask for too much (beyond excellent tracks!), but we do need a couple of things:

Exclusivity

All the tracks you submit must be exclusive to PremiumBeat/Shutterstock Music. In other words, you cannot submit a song that has already appeared elsewhere. Moreover, once we acquire your track, you cannot release it anywhere else. If you don’t want to part with your tracks, we understand that! Writing for our library doesn’t work for everyone.

Original Music

Only send original music. You must own and control 100% of the copyrights for the songs you submit, in both the composition and master recording.

No Samples or Soundalikes

Avoid soundalikes and uncleared samples. If you decide to use samples, make sure those come from pre-cleared sample libraries.


If you are interested in trying to write tracks for production libraries, the best time to start is now. Sometimes it takes a moment to get everything rolling, but if you follow our tips and tricks, at least you’ll know you’re on the right track.