Recently, much to my surprise, I got an email with a custom track request from someone who found me through my AudioJungle portfolio. While my sales are growing, I’m nowhere near a top-selling author, so I have to admit I was a little surprised and unprepared for the request. It was, however, very exciting and a huge confidence booster. I quickly responded and indicated my willingness to create a custom track.
Then I was asked what my rate was… something that I had never really put much thought into. Surely I wasn’t about to charge $19 for a custom track, but I also didn’t want to scare away a potential client who’s likely used to paying around $20 for music. I settled at $45 for a 1 minute track (which I regret setting the bar so low). The client gladly accepted. They offered to pay upfront, and requested that demo tracks be sent without a watermark. I told them to pay at the end and that I would still send unwatermarked tracks, which they were very appreciative of. I figured - worst case scenario they steal my track and I just upload it to AJ and treat it like any other normal track.
The client provided me with sample track from youtube - a 2 minute epic/inspirational track with some voiceover. It was a well produced track, but nothing special. He also provided me with a one minute vocal track that would be what I created my track around. The vocal track was of excellent quality and I was excited to get started. I let him know that I would send a draft by the end of the day.
I spent an above average amount of time to produce a draft of the track. It had many of the stylistic elements from the youtube sample, as well as my own style. I have to imagine that the client listened to my portfolio and was familiar with my work. Anyways, after some polishing and lots of listening, I was very satisfied with the end result. I sent it over.
A few hours later I get an email back from the client. It was short. “This track is just okay, but I was looking for something really great. Can you start over and make something great?”
Uh… that was special. Once I got over the initial sting of rejection, I had to think practically. The track I produced was good, but not what they wanted. However, at $45, it wasn’t really worth taking the risk of producing an entirely different track just to have them hit the redo button again. I emalied the client back asking for specific elements that they wanted improved, and offered to make significant edits to the current track.
Their response: “The track you sent is a little… sad. We need something more awesome.”
Uh… okay. Well we need to define awesome. I then went back and forth in a series of 3 or 4 emails asking them to define what they meant by awesome. I asked them to point out anything in specific they liked about the youtube track they sent. Each time I just got very generic “make it more epic” or “make it have more energy” responses.
Determined to at least get $45 out of this experience, I went back and made some heavy modifications to the track, basically taking all I could from the sample track and incorporating into the new track without outright plagiarizing it.
When I sent the new copy to the client, it still wasn’t ‘awesome’ enough.
At this point, I’m done. I’ll just upload the track to AJ where I’ll likely make much more than $45 anyways. I politely tell the client that I’m unable to produce what their looking for and suggest that they search other composers on AudioJungle. They get back to me quickly, this time with a $45 payment and ask me to try again for another $45.
I’m not sure what I was thinking, but I decide to try again. First draft sent. Not epic enough. And I’m done. I let the client know and that’s the last I’ve heard from them.
All in all, it was an unpleasant experience. I guess I at least got $45. The experience did teach me that I wasn’t really prepared for that kind of work. I guess I just never expected to be contacted!
Anyways, I figured I would share my experience with others here. Has anyone else had experiences with freelance composing?