This composer makes music to calm pets — and says that even if you find a song soothing, they probably don’t

Janet Marlow, who has blonde hair and a white shirt on, smiling next to a brown and white dog.
Janet Marlow.

  • Janet Marlow is a performer and composer with a unique audience: pets. 
  • Marlow began making music for animals 20 years ago after realizing she could calm her pets with it.
  • Doing so helps Marlow pair a love of animals with “all the music knowledge my brain is filled with.”

Music flows through fifth-generation performer Janet Marlow’s veins. The classical and jazz guitarist spent the first 35 years of her career composing, recording, and performing on stages worldwide. 

Then, two decades ago, the Marlow began creating work for a new audience: pets. 

Marlow began creating pet-centric music when she noticed that her pets sat by her side as she practiced, and that they enjoyed it. Marlow began studying how sound influences animal behaviors and used her expertise as a musician to compose 150 tracks to help alleviate stress in pets, which she releases through her business Pet Acoustics.

For pet owners, managing their fur-friends’ anxiety can be stressful and expensive. About 51% of dog and cat owners use some type of calming product, according to the 2021-2022 American Pet Products Association’s National Pet Owners Survey. Pet-calming products range from medication to toys, calming treats, collars, and shirts.

As life returns to quasi-normal after COVID-19 lockdowns, owners worry about their pets’ separation anxiety after spending so much time together. That makes pet calming — and Marlow’s musical approach — more important than ever.  

Janet Marlow, who has blonde hair and a denim jacket on, smiling next to a horse in a stable.
Janet Marlow.

“Music is a substance, and it has a profound influence of moving biological cells through vibrations,” she said. “The excitement for me is that I can take all the knowledge I have about music and sectionalize it to be specific to the need of biology and influence it in a positive way for health.” 

In 1997, Marlow, who calls herself a “sound behaviorist,”  began researching sound and its effects on the behavior of animals. Specifically, she explores the biology of how sound impacts animals and the behavioral response to the vibrations produced by sound. Her scientific studies are peer-reviewed and published in veterinary science publications, and the findings highlight the positive effects of playing species-specific music.

Using information on the hearing range of specific animals, Marlow composes and digitally modifies music within a comfort listening zone for each species’ range of hearing. Her latest piece, Equine Relax Trax, is designed specifically for horses. Horses are incredibly susceptible to stress, which leads to costly gastrointestinal problems. This particular track is a combination of rhythms that never exceeds the decibel level comfortable to horses.

“On the racetrack, 90% of horses have ulcers, and 75% to 80% of performance horses do too, which can cost $1,000 to $2,000 to diagnose and treat,” said veterinarian Sarah Ruess, Equine Technical Manager at Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health. “That doesn’t even account for lost performance. Stress is a big part of those numbers. Creating a more positive environment through the use of music can help minimize the impact.”

Composing for pets is much different than for people. One reason is that the human brain absorbs sound and analyzes it spatially, recognizing the drummer and the guitarist, other instruments, and vocals separately. That doesn’t happen for animals. Marlow said animals hear music in its entirety, and within a second, decide on a behavioral response.

“We’re analytical, and animals are physical,” she said. “In horses, this is where the instinctive flight or fight reactions come in.”

Janet Marlow making a music track on her computer.
Janet Marlow.

Marlow said creating music is similar to baking a chocolate layer cake. Each sound selected is within the exact hearing range of each animal. She begins arranging by making sure each track doesn’t go above or below a specific decibel level. She listens to each note of the tune to ensure it follows a pattern based on a range of modifications that follow the proprietary frequency range she developed.

After arranging, she digitizes the music and confirms that it doesn’t go above a certain level, which would trigger pressure in that animal’s ear. For horses, she’s taken studies a step further and is currently studying which instruments in particular the species finds calming.

“People who think classical music is boring assume it’s calming to their animals, and that’s not true,” she said. “Composing music that is within the comfort zone of each of these animals helps them feel calm and unstressed.”

As a child, Marlow wasn’t allowed to have pets of her own. As an adult, she’s making up for it by helping as many animals as she can.

“I couldn’t be near animals as a child living in the city and this was always a smoldering part of my life,” she said. “It’s such a passion of mine to marry that with all the knowledge of music my brain is filled with.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

How to make money selling theme tunes

Reading Time: 5 mins

If you’re reading this, chances are you have an interest in composing and want your music to be heard – sharing it online could be the first step to making your dreams become a reality.

And not only could you have your music heard – you might be able to make money from it as well!

So, whether you’re creating music in your bedroom as a hobby or you’re a music student in need of some spare cash, selling theme tunes could be the way forward.  


What you need: 

  • Creativity
  • Access to recording equipment or music composition software  
  • Access to a music stock library  


Why should you start selling your theme tunes and music? 

theme tunes on guitar

Composition is a form of self-expression; it can help us express emotions in a way we haven’t before. It can also help us illicit emotions in others which is why music is so often used in film, tv and advertising. Music can support a scene in a film to make us feel sad, happy or indifferent, it manipulates you to relate to a character. The same goes for advertisements, often car adverts have upbeat music, with clear beats that accompany the car driving down open roads. These tracks draw you in and make the prospect of the car seem more appealing.  

Much of this music is pulled from stock music websites, and this music is submitted by a wide range of people from professional composers to amateurs – there is a marketplace for everyone. Stock music websites are always looking for new music in a wide range of genres from pop to electronica to jazz, find a niche and you might hit the big time.  


So how much can you make? 

Whilst there are not many published figures around earnings from selling music online, some people have spoken about earning around $30,000 (about £22,000) a year selling music on stock music sites full-time. Of course not everyone will make this much, and it will depend on the amount of commission stock music platforms take from you per purchase of your music.  


How to get started:  

creating theme tunes

To start with you’ll need some music notation software, this comes in many forms, some you can record into using midi keyboards, others you just click on the page to create the notes. Depending on whether you’re just getting started or if you’ve been composing for a while will affect your choice of composition software. If you’re just starting it may be worth sticking to free software to begin with as some of the professional software is quite pricey.  


So, what is music notation software? 

 Music notation software is similar to a word processor – as you input information, it translates this to the screen. Music notation software began to be developed in the 1980s to reduce the need to hand produce scores before taking them to be professionally engraved for mass production. This software allows individuals to input, edit and play back music they enter using a mouse, computer keyboard or a MIDI keyboard.  

The ease of being able to edit automatically allows for easy fixing of errors, reducing the need for paper manuscripts and therefore making the music composition process easier. The automatic playback ability reduces the need for advanced piano skills as you can hear all parts at the same time as well as having the option to hear each part individually. They come preloaded with different instrumental sounds and allow you to create a score for anything from a single melody line to a full symphony orchestra.  

Downloadable programmes like Musescore are a great place to start as a beginner as they offer in application tutorials as well as allowing you to share your music for commercial use. Unlike some other free downloads, there is only one version of musescore and it is completely free, the only possible issue is the sound quality of the pre-loaded instruments.  

Other free options include Noteflight. Like musescore it’s a notation software but it’s solely online so doesn’t take up any space on your computer hard drive. The free version is limited to 10 instruments only but they do offer various subscription-based models. Unlike Musescore it allows you to upload your scores instantly to an online marketplace where they can be purchased by other users, which would cut out the need for a stock music platform.  

There are multiple paid for options of music production software, some like Sibelius are similar to Musescore where you click your desired tune onto the screen and others like Garage BandCubase and Mainstage use a mixture of hand notation and recording in by midi-keyboard. These types of software can range from £85 for basic versions to £500 for complete versions used in professional settings. Depending on how serious you are, your experience level and how much money you are willing to spend upfront will affect what software you get.  


Finding a platform to sell on: 

writing theme tunes

Different platforms have different advantages, from one-off payments to smaller payments each time your music is used. From films, adverts, YouTube videos to podcasts: music submitted to these sights can be used for a variety of things. Imagine turning on the TV one day just to hear your music in the latest car ad. Not only are you getting your music out there, you are also earning on the side. There are many reputable websites out there to share your music on, most have an application process before they publish your music to make sure it fits in with their brand.  

Websites like AudioSparx run multiple music stock libraries so signing up with them would allow your music to be distributed on multiple sites at once. They pay out quarterly but only if you have earned $25 that quarter, which is worth considering. You can apply with just three tracks and work your way up to a larger portfolio.  

Artlist also provides royalty-free music for film and tv. Like most services, they check that your music is yours and yours alone and that it can be licensed for use globally. Unlike other sites, they do require you to have a high-quality electronic press kit. It is worth considering this as it may be an extra upfront cost if you do not already have an EPK.  

PremiumBeat is a similar service to Artlist but doesn’t require you to have an EPK, although it does require your music to be exclusive to them whereas other services do not require this.  

Before committing to one service, it is best to do your own research to see what works best for you, whether that’s exclusivity, regular pay-outs or a service to nurture your talents. There is a service out there for everyone. It is worth remembering you may not be accepted straight away but don’t let this discourage you. Keep creating, innovating and applying and hopefully one day in the future you’ll be hearing your music on the TV. 


So now you know the basics why not give it a go and try your hand at selling your theme tunes. You might be the next big thing.  


Disclaimer: MoneyMagpie is not a licensed financial advisor and therefore information found here including opinions, commentary, suggestions or strategies are for informational, entertainment or educational purposes only. This should not be considered as financial advice. Anyone thinking of investing should conduct their own due diligence.

The post How to make money selling theme tunes appeared first on MoneyMagpie.

I’m a musician with a side hustle turning pages for others while they perform. It’s one of the most difficult jobs in the industry but often goes uncredited.

Michael Graham conducting
Michael Graham is also a freelance composer and conductor.

  • Page-turners help musicians by turning the pages of their sheet music while they perform.
  • Michael Graham, a freelance composer and conductor, gets up to £100 ($135) per engagement to turn pages.
  • This is what it’s like, as told to Hugh Morris for Insider.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

This as-told-to essay is based on a transcribed conversation with Michael Graham, a freelance musician and page-turner. It has been edited for length and clarity.

A page-turner is someone whose job is turning pages of a musical score for another musician, usually a keyboardist, who is constantly playing so can’t turn a page themselves during a performance. You’re there as a third limb.

I’m a freelance conductor and composer. I also work as a church organist in Edinburgh, Scotland.

My page-turning work is always very ad hoc, booked a couple of weeks in advance, although you do tend to get repeat gigs from friends and colleagues. I would usually do a handful of page-turning gigs a month pre-COVID.

There are generally two ways people get into the profession: They are either students page-turning for teachers or peers, or musicians with mates who are performers.

Most of the time you’re asked to turn as a favor, in exchange for a drink or meal out after.

But when you have a music degree or are a well-established musician, you start getting paid a flat rate of 320 ($27) or £50 ($67) per recital, which usually lasts around an hour. This is dependent on the type of engagement.

Being asked to turn at the Edinburgh International Festival was the most I’ve been paid for a single page-turning engagement: I got £100 ($135) for a two-hour rehearsal and two one-hour performances. I’ve done recordings or recitals that you might get £50 ($67) for.

It’s easy cash, and you get to be a part of these amazing musical experiences.

My first page-turning foray was in my late teens. I was getting organ lessons, and my teacher asked me to turn for a performance later.

I was so nervous, the first thing I did was stand directly between the organ player and the conductor. I got barked at immediately. But that experience gave me the confidence to volunteer to turn while I was a university student during concert seasons. By doing various turning gigs, I got my name out to fellow performers.

It’s important not to interfere with the performer too much when you’re turning. Your job is just to turn the pages when they want – normally a nod of the head or a small vocalized gesture indicates precisely when to turn, because you’re working at their reading speed.

You don’t want to turn the page too early, but you don’t turn it too late either, so you really have to be on the ball with what’s happening both on the page and with the performer.

The main skill that you need is a high level of music literacy. You need to be sensitive, too; you might be the last person to know that you’re doing this gig and the last to actually see the music, but you have to adapt to anything – that includes any repeats in the music – not just turning forwards but turning back too.

One of the scarier page-turning gigs was at a conference on historical instruments. The performer was using a very badly photocopied facsimile score that only they could decipher. I was looking at 17th-century squiggles.

Other times you turn up and the sheet music has completely decayed. One time I turned to the final page mid-performance and it was upside down.

The score could be a bad print, or something really contemporary and difficult to follow, but you have to make the performer feel as relaxed as possible.

I think it’s an unsung part of music. It’s uncredited on a lot of concert programs and recordings despite being one of the most agile and difficult jobs in the industry.

It is always a new challenge because you’re being flung into something at the last moment. The performer has had a few months to get familiar with the piece, whereas you probably have just enough time to have a chat with the instrumentalist beforehand.

As much as the money is welcome, I think the best thing about it is coming across new repertoire and meeting fellow performers. Being a keyboardist myself, it’s always interesting to see how other people perform, looking at markings to see their methods and finding the ways they get into the music.

It’s also improved my methods and practice and exposed me to music I wouldn’t have come across if it wasn’t for turning.

Now that freelance music work is slowly returning to normality, I am hoping there will be more turning gigs on the horizon.

Read the original article on Business Insider

I finally quit my finance job to become a full-time musician – here’s how I’m making the jump

Dane Drewis playing guitar.
Dane Drewis and his guitar.

    • Dane Drewis is quitting his finance job to pursue music full-time by treating his music like a business.
    • Drewis treats his music like a business and has mapped out a financial strategy to move forward.
    • He recommends acquiring digital production skills for more control over your music.
    • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Sometimes you need a nudge to make a leap of faith.

But a pandemic lockdown can do the trick, too.

Once music gigs dried up during COVID-19 lockdowns, California musician Dane Drewis decided he would quit his corporate finance job and make the jump from part-time to full-time musician. Drewis, who was most recently the VP of finance at design and technology company 14th Round Inc., has done a lot of jobs in his working career: business, finance, waiting tables, and even running a restaurant that Beyoncé invested in.

But that list never included music, until now – and that’s because he’s decided to treat his music like a business venture, not just a side hobby.

“I’ll be turning 39 soon and I’ve never made a full commitment with music,” Drewis told Insider. “I want to be able to look back and say I went all in with music.”

Drewis, whose parents are both musicians, fell in love with music in college thanks to late-night jam sessions and endless hours practicing guitar alone in his dorm room. But as he took on a professional career, he didn’t have the time or energy to go all in.

Despite a comfortable salary at his old job and the flexibility to play music on weekends and during evenings, Drewis felt he had to both answer his passion and stop doing what he didn’t enjoy.

“Honestly I’m tired of doing spreadsheets all day,” Drewis said. “I’m ready to share as much happiness and love as possible through committing myself to music.”

No more safety nets

Several years ago, Drewis gave up an attempt at becoming a full-time musician because sleeping in his van and living with fewer comforts took its toll. He couldn’t secure enough music work to make ends meet and eventually he had to find a full-time job.

“Being that broke is stressful and it makes it really hard to be creative,” Drewis explained.

This time, Drewis has given himself a runway to launch off of – the security of a roof over his head and a nest egg of savings, as well as a more developed financial strategy as opposed to playing music at casinos, weddings, and small-time gigs for low pay.

“I’ve done the whole starving artist thing, but it won’t be the same this time,” Drewis said. “Less scrambling for cash and more consistent work this time, promotional events. I’m treating this like a real business venture.”

In his previous attempt, Drewis kept his finance degree front and center as his backup plan. The safety net, he said, is ultimately what prevented him from full dedication.

“No backup plan this time around,” Drewis said. “Before, I was like, ‘I can do finance if I need to.’ But this time’s different. I know for damn sure I don’t want to do finance again. That’s what’s driving me this time.”

Leveraging digital skills and a business plan

To make the jump to full-time musician, Drewis has revamped his digital skills and has used his education to map out a financial strategy for his music business. He shares music on Instagram and is a verified artist on Spotify.

He’s invested in learning how to produce his own songs rather than relying on a company to produce his music for him – something essential to maintaining creative freedom, Drewis said.

A post shared by Dane Drewis (@danedrewis)

“I’ve put a lot of time into learning the software behind music production, tracking and producing my own songs,” Drewis said. “I’m taking control over my recordings for my own work.”

By producing his own music and working on his own timeline, Drewis aims to create original content on a regular basis. Then, he has plans to build out his music-licensing business to get his songs on television commercials and elsewhere.

“Ten years ago, I never treated music like a business,” Drewis said. “I just saw myself as a singer. But now I see this as a startup company. I know my revenue and expenses. I have a firm business plan.”

To younger artists looking to make the leap, Drewis recommends becoming as tech-savvy as possible with music production.

“[Digital] skill set is the primary currency today,” Drewis said. “You want to be your own artist, you want to be able to translate what’s in your mind onto the computer and into people’s ears, all while making your music sound exactly how you want it to sound.”

Drewis recommends becoming proficient at Ableton, a production software, as a way of gaining more autonomy as a musician. These tools allow for greater control and customization, he said.

Drewis returned from his first international tour in Germany last week, and he has a slew of shows planned for the coming months. His focus remains on building out his digital presence, filming music videos, and growing his audience.

“For musicians, a big worry is artistic failure,” Drewis said. “But a bigger worry, for me, is wondering if I was good enough to really do this. Now’s the time to find out.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

How much does Spotify pay per stream? What you’ll earn per song, and how to get paid more for your music

Spotify app and headphones
You’ll need a lot of Spotify streams to make money.

  • Spotify generally pays between $.003 and $.005 per stream, meaning you’ll need about 250 streams to make a dollar.
  • What you’ll be paid per Spotify stream depends on your distribution contract and listener base.
  • If you want to make more money from streaming, release more music and apply to have your music placed on official Spotify playlists.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Over the last decade, several downloadable streaming platforms (also called DSPs) have emerged, including Spotify, Apple Music, SoundCloud, and Pandora. Spotify in particular has made its name as a streaming juggernaut.

But how are musicians faring? For all the benefits that Spotify gives listeners, they aren’t tremendously generous when it comes to paying artists. They also aren’t transparent about how much artists should expect to make per stream.

Many factors affect how much you’ll be paid per stream on Spotify, including where your listeners live, whether they have a Spotify premium account, and what sort of distribution contract you have.

Here’s what you should know about payments on Spotify.

How much Spotify pays per stream

Audio engineer in studio
A single stream is worth less than a penny on Spotify.

According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), paid subscriptions have taken the place of album sales. And if physical sales weren’t struggling enough, the RIAA also reported that the pandemic decreased revenue from physical products by 23%. With that part of their income declining and in the face of industry-wide shutdowns on live events, music streaming revenue has become even more critical for artists.

Yet, Insider found that Spotify has paid artists as little as $.0033 per stream, with other sites reporting upwards of $.0054. Translated, you’ll need about 250 streams to earn a dollar.

“This is why rappers make their money through merchandise, endorsements, and features,” 27-year-old New Jersey-based rap artist Brandon Pain told Insider.

This hasn’t always been the case – Spotify’s payout rates have changed over time. In 2014, they paid $.00521 on average, but two years later, the average rate dropped to $.00437. By 2017, the average pay rate had been reduced again to around $.00397, according to artist-rights site The Trichordist.

How Spotify’s streaming royalties work 

Singer in recording booth.
Spotify royalties are different from traditional royalties in how they’re collected and distributed for musicians.

Royalties are the payments that an artist earns from streams. Spotify royalties are specifically distributed from the net revenue collected from ads and Premium subscription fees. 

Artists are paid monthly. When Spotify pays artists, they tally the total number of streams for each of an artist’s songs, and determine who owns each song and who distributes it. First, the rights holders are paid. Next, the distributor is paid (this may be the same as the rights holder in some cases). And finally, you’re paid.

“Each DSP has its payout, and it’s your distribution company’s responsibility to get the correct payout. They help set you up and walk you through how much you’re being paid per stream, and the royalty payout process,” Pain said.

Independent artists and their managers typically use distribution services like Tunecore or Distrokid to get their music onto Spotify. Bigger artists signed to major labels go through an in-house process.

“Now that there are more distribution outlets, that sector of the industry is starting to scale. Meaning the cost is starting to lower,” said Sharlea Brookes-Keyes, manager for Boston rapper Vintage Lee. “Tunecore does 100% royalties [meaning they don’t take any of your streaming revenue], but you have to pay an annual fee of $50 for an album and $10 for a single.” 

How to increase how much you earn per Spotify stream

A study conducted by Digital Media Finland in 2017 focused on the pro-rata system used for Finnish Spotify Premium subscribers. This system pays rights-holders according to how their streams hold up against popular songs during a set amount of time. 

More popular artists have their music streamed more, which means they earn more. So for artists to obtain more money, they need more streams.

The most surefire way to grow a fanbase, many artists have found, is by releasing music consistently and often. A new magnum opus every year is great, but a sporadic release schedule will mean a smaller pool of listeners.

But other factors can influence how much a musician earns, too. 

A group listening to music.
One of the easiest and most obvious ways to earn more on Spotify is by increasing your fanbase and number of streams.

Not all listeners are the same. Spotify Premium listeners pay more per stream than Free tier listeners. And the pay-per-stream also changes based on what country a listener is from; according to music distributor iGroove, listeners from the US pay $0.0035 per stream, for example, while Italian listeners will pay $0.0019.

The role of Spotify’s 4 billion playlists shouldn’t be sold short either. “Popularity and getting on their editorial playlists are two huge factors,” manager Brookes-Keyes said. “[Vintage Lee’s] song was already hot in the streets and doing relatively well, but when ‘NBA 2k18’ came out [and it was put on the official playlist], her streams grew and are still steadily consistent.”

RapCaviar, curated by Tuma Basa, is one of the most popular editorial playlists. His strategic curation has helped propel artists towards a wider audience and showcased underground music, with Vulture even dubbing it “the most influential playlist in music.” 

Rap Caviar Playlist
Spotify’s RapCaviar playlist currently has more than 13 million subscribers.

If artists are on smaller playlists like Mellow Favorites, there’s still an opportunity to move up to a larger, better-known one like Chill R&B. Once an artist makes it to a more notable playlist, it increases the likelihood they’ll gain more followers and more streams.

In 2018, Spotify also introduced their playlist submission tool. The feature gives artists a choice to submit unreleased music to Spotify, for a chance at having that music put on a playlist as soon as it comes out.

Once an artist chooses their track and submits it, they can tailor the song’s settings according to mood, style, genre, type of recording, and more. This helps Spotify decide which editorial and algorithmic playlists your music belongs in and how to introduce the track to more fans.

How to upload local music to Spotify so you can play songs stored on your computer, even when offlineHow to find concerts on Spotify on desktop or mobile, and get a list of show recommendations near you based on your music tastesHow to sign up for Spotify Premium on your iPhone or desktop computer, and get a free trialHow to find your Spotify ‘Wrapped’ story and playlists for year-end stats on your listening habits

Read the original article on Business Insider