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Make and Sell Samples, Sounds, and Loops: How to Make Money Selling Music if You’re Not a Musician

15 min read

We’re going to dig into a different type of musical profession and talk about someone whose goal is to make and sell samples, sounds, and loops. When a person typically thinks of a music career, they might normally think of something related to either performance or education, both of which normally require a college degree.

The collegiate route can be daunting and costly, but on the other hand, it can be more of a sure bet than relying on luck to make it big as a standalone musician. But what if there was another way to go? Another pathway to make money selling music is by making and selling samples, sounds, beats, and loops. It can be challenging, and it takes tireless effort and self-promotion, but some of the greatest names in music are known for their beats and rhythms alone.

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A Hard Road Paved with Opportunity

The struggle is real, especially as an artist. Now imagine what the struggle is like for someone trying to make a living off of music without being a musician? It may sound like a strange path for someone to pursue. Trying to make money off of music without being a musician? How is that even possible? Rest assured, in the modern market, it is certainly a viable yet difficult career path to choose. And, to take the edge off, it doesn’t require a degree from Carnegie Mellon! While going to college is certainly a great pathway for some, that in no way means that it is the right (or only) way to a successful music career.

Music as a Whole (Lot of Pieces)

When we look at how to make a living off of music without being a musician, we need to look at not necessarily playing music but instead selling different aspects of what a musician might need as separate segments. This might sound similar to what a DJ does, and you would certainly be getting close. What a DJ does is utilize already made music, various beats, and noises to remix audio.

Sometimes, they create something original, other times they upload recordings, but more commonly they perform and create music during live events. Now dig a little further into that. Think about all the various beats, tweaks, sound effects, and overall large pool of “musical special effects.” Have you ever wondered where those come from? Believe it or not, a lot of it is borrowed or even purchased from a third-party vendor. You can think of this as a type of musical merchant, but instead of dealing with a physical product, they focus on the sounds themselves.

A Music Merchant

We understand that after dropping a term like “musical merchant,” we might have some explaining to do. After all, it isn’t a technical term, but it is the term that we’ll refer to in this article to express what’s needed to make and sell samples, sounds, and loops. This career path involves selling sound samples, music loops, background music loops, and other musical segments to musicians.

The first thing a person needs to know is how to make music loops, how to make music samples, how to make sounds, and how to manage a music samples database. Having experience with beat machines and musical tech is always a plus. In many cases, you’ll not only sell sounds online but may have the chance to collaborate with other artists—and maybe even be featured. In those cases, you’ll want to be sure to keep those technical chops up.

What Beats the Competition?

So we’re throwing a lot out there, with concepts like sound samples, music loops, background music loops—plus selling them, self-marketing, and possible collaborations. It’s a headful, for lack of a better term.

To make things easier, let’s try to put this in terms of an actual person who’s become incredibly famous for pulling off this kind of work. Do any names come to mind? If it was Dr. Dre by any chance, then you’ve won the lotto. And if you didn’t, that’s good, too. It’s a big market, and like all things musical, the more insight and inspiration you can pull from, the easier your life will be.

But back to Dre. This guy is famous. And we mean, really famous. You’ll see his names featured across various tracks—from some of the biggest groups known across multiple generations. He’s done game-changing lyrical work, can be thanked for some of the most pivotal moments in hip-hop, and who hasn’t heard of or even wanted a pair of Beats Audio? Something he’s most well known for, and what this whole article is about, is his ability to make beats, sound samples, music loops, and background music loops. So keep that in mind as we go into the next section in which we elaborate on the differences between sound samples, music loops, and background music. Then, we’ll explain how to sell samples online, sell sounds online, and sell loops online. Be sure to grab a notepad (or maybe just favorite this web page).

Sound Samples

Have you ever been listening to a favorite song of yours or just had something on in the background, and noticed there was something familiar about its background music? We’ve all had the thought, “I know this song!” or thought an old song has been turned into something completely new. Now that you’ve got that example, and assuming you’ve come across this before, then you know what sound samples, or sampling, is. These sound samples don’t always have to be from an already well-known song. They can be from an original track of yours or even a segment from an already made song—which has been heavily modified and remixed so that it’s become something familiar, yet entirely new.

That covers what music samples are, so now it’s time to talk about how to make them. Luckily, if you’re reading this article, it would be safe to assume you’ve got some sort of music editing software. And if you don’t, go get some! There are plenty of options out there, and all come equipped with basic equipment and tools that are necessary for any fledgling “music merchant” to get started. Now it’s on to some definitions that’ll help you make and sell samples, sounds, and loops.

Music Loops

Next up are music loops. These are endless tracks that can be put on repeat that seamlessly flow into each other and—given the proper power source—could technically be played for eternity. This is pretty cool in concept, but how could it apply to a music career or be put to good use by a musician after you start to sell loops online?

Because we love a good contextual example, let’s first take a practicing instrumentalist or singer. What often goes into this form of music is hours upon hours of repetitive exercises that focus on really dialing in certain skills and techniques. Music loops allow them to have an easy-to-use, typically generic-sounding track to keep on repeat, which will allow them to focus on the technique at hand—without getting too lost in the music. Another example would be a singer or rapper in a studio trying to simply get some lyrics out on top of a consistent track.

Now you can easily see how this could come in handy. It’s a repeating section of sound material with a wide array of uses, from practicing musicians or music artists in a studio. Considering how large that market is, it’s not hard to imagine how lucrative these can be. That brings us to how to make music loops. Once again, this is where the creative process comes in. Get the canvas (or software) out and start the process of trial and error. Trust us, though. You’ll get it down before you even realize the track has started to repeat.

Background Music

The last staple necessary for a “music merchant” to have at their disposal is background music. Background music consists of musical segments meant to slip into the background. The purpose is primarily to set a background or atmosphere to something larger, as opposed to being the main event. It’s the sky on a canvas setting or the plates, silverware, and table cloth to a fancy dinner. But wait: isn’t background music that stuff that you hear in elevators or waiting rooms, which is sure to put someone to sleep eventually?

As it turns out, the expanse of what constitutes “background music” is far and wide, and it comes into play in more sects of media than you would think. From venue setting to music scores, background music is pretty important, especially for audio that isn’t meant to be the main focus.

But for now, let’s steer away from compositional background music and focus more on digital tracks for online media. Take YouTube for example, because there’s nothing we love more here than putting things into a solid frame of context.

Many YouTube videos need something that’s going to linger in the viewer’s mind and keep them engaged, without detracting from the primary content—or main course, in a sense (fun tip: don’t write articles while hungry). Their intention is to set, or accentuate, the mood of what’s being seen on-screen and create an appropriate atmosphere for what’s being presented to the watcher.

Background music is also helpful for listeners of radio shows or podcasts. And sometimes, it can help with branding, as most shows will rely on background music with similar themes. How often has a jingle gotten stuck in your head? The NPR transitional jingle is lingering around somewhere as we speak. And, considering the market, there shouldn’t be any issues when you get to the point of selling background music online.

But once again, it’s important to ask how to make background music. Now, this might be a bit more challenging than making sound samples or music loops, as these will typically be full songs or pieces intended for use in longer videos or settings. Considering that the average YouTube video ranges anywhere from five to forty-five minutes, they can take quite some time to put together.

This is where that music software mentioned earlier comes into play, in addition to a great deal of patience, trial, and error. Thankfully, music loops and background music easily overlap in creation and intention, so it could be as easy as writing music to loop together—which you can put on repeat for a long duration of time. After all of that effort, though, you’ll need a place to store your prized collection of artful noises. Don’t worry, because half of that battle has been fought for you….

Music Samples Database

Once you’ve curated a collection of sound samples, music loops, and background music, you’ll need a place to keep them for future use. Keep in mind that as you start creating a large number of sound samples, music loops, and background music, you’ll need to start managing your own music samples database. The purpose is in the title: it holds all of your created sound samples, music loops, and background music in a safe, easy-to-access spot.

Think of it as your private vault of musical success. This isn’t only a storage place though. It will slowly become your whole life’s work—and, in a sense, start to grow as your own personal artist’s portfolio. Almost like a gallery, this is where you will be able to pull previous work from to showcase your skills to prospective customers. In another light, it will act as your primary inventory of “musical wares” to distribute and monetize, because who knows who will hear something old you’ve made and want to reuse it for their own purposes? Luckily, there are sites online that will do the job of keeping everything in one spot and easily distributing your work.

These are the basics, and we’re hopeful that this will get you on the right path. With the basics on how to make and sell samples, sounds, and loops, you’ll be off to the races (or studio) in no time.

Do you want to learn more about selling music online?

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About the author

Max has been working in the ecommerce industry for the last six years helping brands to establish and level-up content marketing and SEO. Despite that, he has experience with entrepreneurship. He is a fiction writer in his free time.

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