Become a Stock Music Bestseller
How To Compose Popular Stock Music To Crush It On Audio Jungle
“What does it take to become a stock music bestseller? How to create popular stock music to make a decent living of it?” – Are two questions, I ask myself quite frequently. Lets face it; making a good living from stock music is not easy, but it is possible. To succeed in it, a more business-like approach to music creation is required.
Certainly, there are many strategies of how to crush it on stock music sites but in this article I focus on composing bestsellers for AudioJungle (AJ). AJ is one of the most popular and modern stock music sites out there. The top 10 best-selling tracks make between 37 and 125 sales per week. With standard license fee of $18 and an author payout for high selling authors of 70% that grosses between $466 and $1575 per week for just one track. The good thing about being a bestseller is that you will automatically get more exposure and therefore more sales every week.
That sounds like a profitable investment but there are hundreds of thousands other tracks on the site, which make little or no money. So, the competition is very high but I am convinced that by creating a high quality track in the theme of these bestsellers plus additional marketing measures there is a fair chance of climbing to the top. That is exactly what I am attempting to do and I will document everything along the way. I surely also will get more into detail on the marketing side of this endeavour but for now let’s focus on the music.
The common themes of the selling stock music on AudioJungle
This time, instead of rushing to my guitar and digital audio workstation right away, I try to figure out if there is common themes of top selling stock music on AJ. Everyone, who listens to more than 2 of the top tracks, will immediately get a feeling for the vibe that AJ buyers are looking for but let’s take it a step further by analyzing the tracks in more detail.
On AudioJungle the most popular category is corporate/motivational. Not all best selling tracks are in this category but to make this analysis more coherent I will focus on the 10 highest ranking tracks within the corperate/motivational niche. As you can see below these tracks rank on place 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 throughout the whole network. Take a look at the table and numbers and listen to one or two tracks to shape a first impression.
|MetrolightMusic||Live My Live||1||8450||888|
|Music Premium||Your Little Planet Corp||3||6779||686|
|MidiCable||Fresh and Fun||5||5097||172|
|RandomNoise||Takin the Reins||8||4634||169|
|Soundroll||A Way to the Top||9||4554||452|
|Tim McMorris||This is How You Advertise||10||4488||165|
|Tim McMorris||Successful Business Venture||11||4395||504|
First of all, let’s consider the tempo as it is an indicating factor for feeling and vibe of a song. As you can see in the table below there are, with exceptions, two general tempo-themes that top sellers fall into; The 100-110 and the 130-150 bpm range. Songs with ~140bpm have high energy and can be described as quick and bright. These songs are ideal for corporate sales videos. Compositions with ~105 bpm work well in projects that require music with a little less but still moderate energy.
Listen to Live My Live and Inspiration in comparison to get a better understanding of what I am talking about.
Melody vs. Chord-focused / Foreground vs. Background music
Another important factor I would like to take into account is whether top-selling music is foreground or background music. That is often indicated by the role melody plays in the composition. Songs that don’t have a clear melody don’t distract as much and are thereby more suited for background purposes. Songs with a clear melody are catchy and can enhance remembrance and association with the product. Both themes have their advantages and disadvantages. When looking at the 10 top-selling songs it becomes apparent that 2 have distinct melodies, 6 do not and 2 are somewhere in between. That tells us, that even though songs with a strong melody can be a bestseller, more AJ buyers look for chord focused, arpeggiated or polyphonic music with background qualities.
Listen to Your Little Planet Corp and Inspire for better understanding.
What instruments are used in stock music bestsellers? Good question, Dario. In the following spreadsheet I list the instruments that are used for melody, rhythm and percussion. I wasn’t 100% accurate while writing them it out because the point was to distill the distinctive instruments and not every little detail.
|Author||Melody Instruments||Rhythmic Instruments||Percussion Instruments|
|MetrolightMusic||Glockenspiel, Piano, Ac Guitar||Ac Guitar, Piano, Okulele, E Bass||Ac Drums, Shakers, Tambourine|
|Audio Quattro||Flagolet Guitar Synth||Pads, Strings, E Guitar||Ac Drums, Synth|
|Music Premium||Piano||Okulele, E Bass, Ac Guitar||Finger Snap, Clap, Tambourine, sidestick, Ac Drums|
|MidiCable||Piano, Glockenspiel, Ac Guitar||Ac Guitar, E Bass, E Guitar Overdr||Clap, Tambourine, Ac Drums|
|RandomNoise||E Guitar Clean, Glockenspiel||Strings, E Bass, Synth, E Guitar||Drums|
|Soundroll||Glockenspiel, Strings, Synth||Piano, E Bass, E Guitar Crunch||Rock Drums|
|Tim McMorris||Glockenspiel, Synth, Vocals||E Guitar, Piano, E Bass, Synth Pad||Claps, Shakers, Ac Drums|
|Tim McMorris||String, Piano, Glockenspiel||Ac Guitar, E Bass, Pads, E Guitar|
|SoundAround||Piano, Synth||Piano, Pads, Synth Bass, Strings||Sample, Synth|
|Monophobia studio||Piano, E Guitar, E Guitar Pad, E Bass||Ac Drums|
As you can read the Glockenspiel is a reoccurring instrument for melody purposes, the electric bass is used in almost every track and claps and tambourines are also popular. Unsurprisingly, the piano is very common. Beside that, the instrumentation is in alignment with the type of song.
Key and Chord Progressions
The next aspect I am very interested in is the key and chord progression themes. Analyzing the key of the song, it shows that G and D-major are frequented but what surprises me, is that no song is written in C-major. Why? Do composers think that they are too advanced for C-major, don’t people buy songs in C-major or is it just a coincident?
Now comes the fun part. I quickly distilled two main chord progression per song. Sometimes with all that polyphonic clutter going on, it isn’t totally clear which chord is actually played. When that was the case I just followed the bass line. Surprise, surprise the Axis-Of-Awesome chord progression is used whooping 5 times but yet not it’s original order I V vi IV (marked in bold). Further, as anticipated, all songs use chords purely from the major scale and I, IV, V and vi are most common. What I really like is the first inversion chord of “I” that MetrolightMusic uses. Lastly, it is worth mentioning that Tim McMorris likes to implement the ii-chord, which sound great in his compositions, in my ears.
|MetrolightMusic||F||A: I I3 vi IV // B: vi IV I V|
|Audio Quattro||G||I IV I IV vi V|
|Music Premium||Db||I IV vi V|
|MidiCable||F#||A: I IV vi V B: IV ii I I|
|RandomNoise||A||I I IV IV vi IV|
|Soundroll||D||A: IV I vi IV B: I IV vi V|
|Tim McMorris||G||A: I ii vi (V/IV)|
|Tim McMorris||D||V ii IV I|
|SoundAround||D||I IV vi V|
|Monophobia studio||Ab||A: VI IV I vii B: V vi IV IV|
Even though structure is important, I guess that it’s not the critical factor for buying decisions on audio jungle. Buyers often restructure songs themselves to make them fit their project. At least, that is what I see many video editors do. Still, I think the first impression, hence the first 30 seconds, of a song are determining and that is where a convincing structure can score. The AudioJungle staff lately published an article that touches on structure as well. They write:
- Minimize sudden shifts or pauses
- Get to the point quickly
- End on the right note
- Balance repetition
When looking at structure of a song globally, I differentiate tracks that utilize song structures (verse, chorus, break, …) and tracks that are purely build-ups. Build ups often have only one chord progression and slowly add instruments and thereby tension and dynamic. Both structure-types are represented in the top 10 best-selling stock music on AudioJungle.
Listening to the songs, I notice that, although many of them make use of common song structure, the typicall verse/chorus section can be better described as 1st chorus/2nd chorus. That is because each section has chorus qualities. Listen to Live my Live for clarification.
The last thing, I find noteworthy here is that most tracks which utilize song structure get to the point in 20 seconds or less.
|Author||Structure||Time to Chorus|
|Audio Quattro||Build up||18s|
|Music Premium||Song Strucutre||7s|
|Tim McMorris||Build up/Song Strucutre||n.a.|
|Tim McMorris||Build up||n.a.|
|Monophobia studio||Song Strucutre||n.a.|
The last important factor of how to become a stock music bestseller that I want to take into consideration in this article is what keywords are used to describe the top 10 tracks on AudioJungle. Here is a list of the most common keywords with word frequency.
When analyzing at the top 10 best-selling songs in the AudioJungle corporate/motivational category the following reoccurring themes emerge:
- Tempo: 100-110 or 130-150 bpm
- 70% Background music (chord-focused, polyphonic, arpeggiated chords) 30% Foreground music (distinct catchy melodies)
- Instrumentation: Glockenspiel, Piano, E-Bass, Acoustic Guitar, Claps, Tambourine, Drums
- Key: G or D major
- Chord progression: I IV V VI are the most common chords
- Song structure: 65% pop song structure and 35% build ups
- Get to the point in less than 20 seconds
- Common keywords: corporate, motivational, happy, uplifting, business guitar, optimistic, positive, success, bright, commercial, confident, inspirational
Composing a Bestseller
As announced in the beginning I attempt to compose and produce a song that has the bestseller qualities that I distilled in the analysis above. As I am writing this, I haven’t started the composition process. The qualities that I take into consideration are:
- Tempo: 140 bpm
- Polyphonic, Chord-focused
- Instrumentation: Glockenspiel, Piano, E-Bass, Acoustic Guitar, Claps, Tambourine, Drums
- Key: G Major
- Song structure: Pop song structure
- Get to the point in less than 10 seconds
- keywords: corporate, motivational, happy, uplifting, business guitar, optimistic, positive, success, bright, commercial, confident, inspirational
– 1 week later –
It took a while to compose but I finished my AJ bestseller and called it “Summer Drive”. Even though I tried to work with the bullet points above as much as possible, the track came out a little different. The reason being that once I was inspired, the song almost wrote itself and I just followed along. I bet you know what I am talking about. Alright, so just take a listen:
Also see for yourself how many sales I made to this day by following this link:
>>Summer Drive on AudioJungle<<
So what do you think? Is it worth the time to actually look for the magic formula of successful music? What is more important the quality of music or marketing? What do you think about my track?
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What to comment? Not a single sail i one year…
What to comment? Not a single sail in one year…
Yes haha, it was a total failure in that respect but I still learned alot from it.
Great analysis man. I’m not sure if analyzing the 10 best selling tracks will do the work 100%, but it’s definitely a good starting point.
Really helpful article Tnx alot
I think it’s more important to make music that doesn’t sound like all the other stuff in the already saturated royalty free market. Google the term “long tail” and you’ll see that all of the weird stuff equals the same amount of opportunities as the big hits.
haha, yeah, funny that after all that analysis your track got zero sales. I guess it just goes to show that even in stock music, there’s no real formula. How long did that track take to create? Because that’s also important to factor in; for every track that gets huge sales, how many other tracks get nowhere? And is the overall time investment worth it?
Thanks for the information. Time spent analyzing music is never wasted. In a way, your analysis is trying to do what early music practioners did when they came up with the rules for harmony and counterpoint — discoverring what worked in the past and projecting those conditions upon as-yet-unwritten music. If your goal is to recreate the status quo then it is useful information; if your goal is to create something other, then it is still useful information. Good job.
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