Do you love getting jingles stuck in your head for days at a time? Have you been making up tunes your whole life? Do you have the musical skills and equipment knowhow to turn a tune into an actual jingle?
Have you dreamt of starting your own business and taking your love for catchy jingles into a full-pledged career?
Well, with the internet opening up opportunities for people with almost every kind of talent, it’s not surprising that master jingle composers would have a chance to earn big bucks in this day and age…and imagine doing it in the comforts of your own home.
Sounds too good to be true? Of course, you need to have what it takes to write commercial jingles. If you’re wondering where to start, read on…
How to Create Your Own Jingle
Like many careers, you have to have the passion for crafting jingles, or the result wouldn’t be as good as Dr. Pepper’s “Wouldn’t You Like to Be a Pepper Too?” or Kit Kat’s “Give Me A Break.” Your heart should be in the right place before you can turn jingle-writing into a money-making career.
Jingles are made as a video or audio ad for a company’s product or service. As such, it should be able to reflect a company’s values and highlight what the product can offer their target market as well. Striking the right balance between creativity and product marketing is important, but extremely hard to do.
You’ll also need:
- An extensive knowledge of jingle culture – What makes a jingle an ear-popping success? You should know that it isn’t just about the tunes, but also about bringing out emotions to anyone who hears the jingle. It can bring out laughter, tears, childhood memories, and a bunch of emotions we never knew we had. In short, your jingle should be able to make an impact on people.
- Musical abilities – Memorable slogans won’t be enough to make a successful jingle. The beats and tunes paired with the words should blend perfectly together to create an irresistible jingle that anyone would instantly recognize. You should know what it takes to compose music using piano or other instruments, and be able to turn your idea into reality. If you have recording experience, then composing jingles would be much easier.
- Writing skills – Take away the music of a jingle and you should be left with awesome taglines that consumers will associate with a company. This requires advanced composing skills or a combination of extensive vocabulary, knowledge of proper phrasing and love of rhymes.
- Creativity – Clients only provide a simple instruction about what the jingle should include and what message it should convey. As such, jingle composers must be creative enough to work with even the vaguest of ‘client requirements.’
- Pop culture knowledge – You have to know what’s hot and trendy for a jingle to work. Guy Bommarito, former creative director of Austin-based ad agency GSD&M, wrote the ever-so-popular “I Want My Baby Back Baby Back Baby Back Ribs” jingle for Chili’s in the 90s. He never tasted Chili’s ribs and only had enough pop culture knowledge to complete the client’s project. But the jingle got a life of its own, appearing in the movie “Austin Powers,” and mentioned on popular TV shows “The Office” and “Scrubs.” It was even given an NSYNC commercial version at the time.
There’s no educational background or special degree needed to become a jingle composer, but most traditional jingle writers have experience working in ad agencies. You have the option of working a full-time job at ad agencies, or go freelance and offer your jingle-writing services to multiple clients. Freelancers must have excellent marketing skills, so that they’ll be able to represent themselves at various ad agencies or directly when facing a client.
How much can you earn writing commercial jingles?
Jingle writers often work on a freelance basis. They build a network of contacts from the field of advertising, entertainment, media, arts and PR, among others. Because of this set-up, the field can become extremely competitive and highly lucrative if you’ve got the right skill set.
The average fee per jingle is about $10,000, if you’re catering to local or regional markets. But if your jingle-writing gig expands to the national market, it could go as high as $50,000 per jingle. There are various factors that may dictate the amount you could get – these include years of experience, past successful jingles, connections, your portfolio, and the client’s requirements.
For jingle composers who are employed at ad agencies, income may be as low as $20,000 a year or as high as $85,000 annually, depending on the same set of factors listed above for freelancer fees. This means, that if you have master composing skills and an impressive jingle portfolio, you won’t have difficulty bagging work since you’ll be on the top of ad agency heads’ minds whenever the need for a jingle composer arises.
Veteran jingle composers can earn more than their fee-per-jingle if they negotiated terms, such as earning royalties or agreeing to a deferred compensation agreement. In these cases, the upfront-fee would be smaller than average, but you’ll be earning commissions whenever the jingle is played or receiving extra cash if the jingle goes viral in the future.
Writing jingles for a living has an optimistic future with a 10% expected growth from 2010 to 2020, but note that this isn’t as high as the 15% (or higher) outlook of other arts-related occupations.
How to Start Your Career Writing Commercial Jingles
There are several ways to start your jingle composing career, but all of them require you to build a portfolio and improve your online presence.
- As a freelancer with ad agency connections: You need to find as many advertising agencies online (or even locally) and ensure you have an insider who will give you tips whenever a client requires a jingle made. Every time you discover a jingle project, you still have to compete with other composers wanting to bag that job. Unless your jingle-writing reputation is unmatched and ad agencies choose you as their first pick, you need to prove your worth as a jingle composer and build rapports with your connections.
- As a freelancer seeking online-based jobs: Be a regular at job boards, from Freelancer.com to Fiverr.com. Get as much experience catering to clients as you can. Not only does this help you build an online portfolio complete with client feedback, it also improves your communication and analytical skills (both of which are important in turning a client’s ideas into a real ear-popping jingle). Probably the best job board for talent like you is Gig Salad, a platform wherein thousands of entertainers, performers and other artists showcase their work and offer their services to potential clients.
- As a blogger talking about jingle making: Whether or not you’re new to the field, this route is always recommended because it provides multiple income streams and serves as an online portfolio as well. You can upload your jingles on YouTube (and earn from them too!) and talk about what jingle composing is all about. And since you already have a knack for writing, you can use your voice to build a following and hopefully catch the attention of big-ticket clients through your blog. Plus, there’s always a chance to earn passive income with a successful blog, so a blog remains the best online portfolio for you.
- As a social media influencer: Not feeling the blog experience? You can always stick to social media instead. Open up a Facebook page, Twitter account, YouTube, and other social media accounts that you can handle. Make sure to keep them updated with your jingle samples, trivia about the industry, and other insider tips you might want to share.
Word-of-mouth remains out of the most effective ways to promote your service, so whichever route you plan to take, make sure you focus on showing off your jingle-composing talent and if you do it right, clients will flock your way.
And if “waiting for clients to come” won’t work, or is too slow of a progression for you, you can always market your talent more aggressively. Prepare several types of jingles that you’ve crafted, and present them to local businesses, ad agencies, PR firms, political campaigns, sports organizations and other types of companies that may advertise on radio or TV. You can do this online, but focus on companies from your city first, so that you can attend meetings if a client decides to try your services out.
The Bottom Line
The income of jingle writers isn’t listed on the Bureau of Labor Statistics, probably because like many freelance jobs, the amount you earn totally depends on your skill, perseverance and how well you’re able to market your talent online and in the real world.
Jingles aren’t like what they used to be in the past, which means your vocabulary and taste in music should also adapt to modern trends. However, because the internet is a gift that keeps on giving, what used to be side gigs like jingle composing can now become a full-time income-generating career for the right people.