Have you ever heard an advertisement on TV or on the internet once, have it stuck in your head, and find yourself humming it a month later? Maybe you thought to yourself: I can do that too! Today I talk about jingle writing jobs and how you can get them.
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Have you been making up catchy tunes in your head your whole life? Do you have the musical skills and the equipment to turn these tunes from imagination to reality?
If you do, you’re in luck. The internet and advanced technology opening up opportunities for all types of artists to be seen and hired by anyone from individual entrepreneurs to SMEs to big companies.
Do you think you have what it takes to write commercial jingles? Read on to learn where to start.
What Do You Need to Create Your Own Jingle?
Before you land jingle writing jobs, you’ll need to create jingles first.
Jingles are those tunes you hear in a video or audio ad for a company’s product or service, normally with a memorable tagline that becomes the hook.
Either the company’s slogan is made into the hook, or the hook eventually becomes the company’s slogan. Whichever it is, the goal is to create a jingle that makes people think of the brand when they hear it.
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.
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.
You’ll also need:
1. 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 a love of rhymes.
2. 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.
Clients usually only provide simple instructions 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 creative briefs or “client requirements.”
4. Extensive Knowledge of Jingle Culture
What makes a jingle an ear-popping success?
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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.
5. 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 had 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?
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.
Jingle writing jobs are often completed on a freelance basis. You need to build a network of contacts from the fields of advertising, entertainment, media, arts, and public relations, among others. Thus, the field can become extremely competitive but highly lucrative if you’ve got the right skill set and know the right people.
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 factors. 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 per-jingle fees 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 (often called a reel) and improve your online presence.
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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’ll 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 your connections.
As a freelancer seeking online-based jobs
Scan all the job boards, from Freelancer.com to Fiverr.com, for jingle writing jobs.
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.
Guru is another platform where you can offer your services and allow potential clients to contact you.
As a blogger writing 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!), embed the videos on your website, 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.
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, Instagram page, 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 one 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, jingle writing jobs will come to you.
And if waiting for clients to come feels too slow or doesn’t work 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 TV, radio, or social media.
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.
Tips to Land Jingle Writing Jobs
As I’ve mentioned, jingle writing is a competitive field. Here are some tips from seasoned pros to help you launch your jingle writing career off the ground.
Manage your expectations.
In recent years, the jingle market has shrunk considerably as companies are increasingly licensing, using, and remixing existing tracks instead of hiring jingle composers.
Opportunities are still around, but you need to brace yourself for a lot of disappointment before you can truly make it big time.
Always have your demo reel ready.
Put together your best seven or eight compositions, take 45 to 60 seconds of each one, and edit each snippet together in one audio file.
This is the sample you can burn in CDs or save in little flash drives and send to brands and ad agencies.
Save it in your smartphone as well so you can whip it out when potential clients ask. You never know when a job can drop in your lap so it pays to be ready.
Know your strengths so you can take risks.
As a composer, you’ll have particular styles or genres that you’re good at. Those tend to be your comfort zone as a jingle composer.
If you know which musical genres you’re good at, you should also be aware which ones you’re not very good at so you can work on studying them and take a risk composing something that you’re not very familiar with.
Being diverse is always better than being a one-note composer. You may be good at EDM beats, but other companies will be looking for pop or country tunes, and you need to be able to compose for them, too.
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.
Are you looking to land your first jingle writing job? Tell us of your progress below!