Hope Me with the Noises in My Head ...
June 12, 2020 6:12 AM   Subscribe

For fun, for profit or ... ?

I’ve always heard short snippets of music in my head; mostly of a rock/classic rock/"new wave"/alt rock genre. Occasionally ambient. About 15 years ago I started recording them (whistling or humming), either with a tiny handheld voice memo recorder, or more recently with my smartphone.

I now have over 500 snippets. I’m not joking.

1) Is this "normal?"

2) Anyone else have this problem/blessing? What have you done with/about it?

3) Your experiences and recommendations ... What can I do with the noises in my head? For fun? For profit? For other? Could I make money from them and if so, how? If not, is there something else I could do with them? Loops, stock music, both, or ???

5) Loops market: Why do people buy loops when they could make them themselves? What kind of time investment (after recording) would be involved in marketing them?

6) Stock music market: These snippets could be developed into stock music tracks. What are the stock music markets parameters and attributes? What kind of time investment (after recording) would be involved in marketing stock music?

Background: I am a (amateur) musician and I have a basic 2-room recording studio in my home. I play guitar & bass, sing, and can play (basic) or program drums & keys.

posted by ZenMasterThis to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
1. I doubt that it's remotely common.

2. NA

3. 5. 6. People use loops because they like how they sound and/or don't have the skill and/or talent to recreate them or create similar ones from scratch. They could also be lazy and/or not care about originality.

I can't imagine it being worth the time to create and market loops on your own. Logic and other programs often come with thousands, and there are tens of thousands out there in various styles for cheap. I have to assume that the payout to the composer is minimal.

Background/stock music is probably a more profitable direction. There are a lot of libraries that offer various versions of loops so that you can piece them together in sequence so that they work with what's going on in a video. So you'd get one four bar version with all instruments, one with minimal drums, one with some melody, etc.

Keep in mind that all of this stuff is well-recorded, mixed, and performed. So not only do you have to make sure that it’s stylistically something that people would want to use, it also has to sound professionally produced.

I don't think it would be worth the effort to market them yourself. There are so many companies offering stock music as part of a subscription for not much money. And they have big advertising budgets with a lot of reach. You'd be best off trying to get them to distribute your stuff. But really, if you want to make money from the music you make, then you're better off (relatively speaking) trying to get composition gigs where you're creating a specific piece of music for a client for a specific price, rather than trying to create more drops in the ocean of loops.
posted by jonathanhughes at 7:23 AM on June 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

Could I make money from them and if so, how?

Honestly, no. There's not much money in selling loops or stock music to begin with and right now the market's going to be completely flooded with professional musicians unable to tour to make money putting out much more professional content than you can.

Make music because you love it and feel compelled to create it. Turn it into full songs and stick it on Soundcloud or Bandcamp or YouTube or whatever. See if you can grow a following. You probably can't - I'm not saying that your music is or isn't good, it's just very hard getting lucky with the 10s of millions of well known tracks available at the click of a button these days.

Anyone else have this problem/blessing?

What you describe is common for people that go into composition. I studied it in college, I play it for myself, and share it with a few friends. It's not the fame for it that I hoped for in my youth but it's what most of us get.
posted by Candleman at 8:18 AM on June 12, 2020 [3 favorites]

I’ve always heard short snippets of music in my head. I often have bits of music in my head; musicians I know often have more complex bits of music on play. To monetize any form of music, practice, perform.

The way you have preserved these snippets would lend itself very well to a blog and/or podcast. Once in a while, such things can become profitable, but it takes a ton of work and profit is unlikely.
posted by theora55 at 8:35 AM on June 12, 2020

Anecdata: Wait, doesn't everybody have this?

I had sort of assumed everyone did this, but that I had a more extreme version due to being on the spectrum. Since childhood I have been noted for singing out loud often for hours at a time making up both the tune and the lyrics on the fly. It was a handy ability when playing a bard in D & D, as leaping vigorously around the room, vaulting the back of the couch while swinging a cardboard gift wrap roll and singing an impromtu "Gnolls are gunna die!" song netted me an unrolled natural 20 whenever I needed it. I don't think I've ever impressed anyone with my musical compositionl abilities other than that.

The main use to me this has been is for stimming. When I am overwhelmed by sensory input or feeling strong social anxiety I do this, usually starting the moment I escape from the building. I don't think these tunes are particularly good being quite genre and not at all original, and the quality and fluency of the lyrics has notably decreased from their peak, along with my other verbal abilities such as word retrieval, but I have typically been easily able to make up a tune and lyrics at singing speed in any genre that I am at all familiar with, such as medieval, celtic, blues, swing, rock, lullaby etc. I tend to burst out in twenties styles, despite the fact that I initially was more interested in other genres, and my best guess is that it was the first style I picked up from hearing it from much older caretakers as a toddler. I'm one of those people that does verbal jazz improv switching from wailing sax to weeping mouth harp to vocalist mouth music, only semi aware of what is coming out of my mouth, while concentrating on getting the egg out from between the tines of the fork I am washing.

This neurological trait has made learning to sing harder. When I have had to learn a performance piece I have had to drill it to get it to come out effortlessly just like any other new performer. However this turns the piece into an ear worm that plays relentlessly for the next three days or so making it very hard to think. I now try very hard to avoid drilling pieces and try not to practice only one piece in a session, and do not repeating the same piece more often than two days running.

On a bad day hearing or performing a piece of music when I am coming down with a migraine will cause the piece to recur for the duration of the migraine. One of my more traumatic experiences, ranking up there with giving birth was the time I had a three day migraine with periodic vomiting and the song "DON'T WORRY!! BE HAPPY!!" playing in my brain as an ear worm on high volume including while I dozed. It was bad enough that I find myself getting anxious about triggering a recurrence by typing out DW, BH above. I can now only stand gloomy music from the islands because if the beat is up-tempo it makes me so anxious I can't stand still.

Being able to sing or think tunes like this has been a great joy and a great comfort to me. The terrible side of this is that I can't cope very well with background music because I can't not hear it. This makes public areas with canned music quite trying, and an office that has the radio on in the background will reduce me to being a very dumb, forgetful and incompetent employee. At home this means that my poor family has to put up with me loudly and cheerfully and frequently belting out, "You can tell me anything - Woo-Haa-haa - Tell me anything - Woo-Haa-haa - Cause I got your back! Woo-Haa-haa - Duddah-dudda-bum-ta-dudda-bum!" and similar nonsensical streams of music that I am making up as I go along, while they are simultaneously being obliged to always wear headphones if they are listening to music or podcasts or movies or playing a game. They have been very good about it.
posted by Jane the Brown at 9:52 AM on June 12, 2020 [4 favorites]

Best answer: If you have fully produced recordings of your snippets, you can try to submit to a jingle library like Jingle Punks or similar. I knew some people who did this for beer money, thought I will also note they were professional musicians with their own studios. They had no control over the placement of the jingles (generally random TV episodes, leaning toward reality shows), but it seemed that having a catchy, descriptive name for each jingle helped its popularity.
posted by ohkay at 10:01 AM on June 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

I have this.

When I was younger I found it comforting and would create compositions of what I "heard"; as an adult I find it incredibly distracting and I do nothing with it.
posted by sm1tten at 10:27 AM on June 12, 2020

There are people who don't have music running in their heads at all times? For me it's usually the last thing I listened to, or something that triggered an earworm. Never anything original, I wish! A couple of weeks ago it stopped for a couple of seconds and I wondered if I was having a stroke or something until it started back up again.
posted by Ampersand692 at 11:53 AM on June 12, 2020

I call this bird-brain, the patterns from other bits of music triggered by reminiscent sounds and echoed by whatever gets birds to shout out "I'm here, I'm one of us, this is me!"

It's useful for hearing patterns out of place, like when Lady Gaga sings "I'm just a poor boy / I need no sympathy / I'm easy-come-easy-go-o-o" at the "I'm off the deep end..." part of Shallow.
posted by k3ninho at 12:57 PM on June 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My brain generates bits of music like this. I don't record them in a systematic way. Sometimes I write songs, and then I use these brain-generated bits as raw material.

It sounds like you want to make loops out of yours. I think you should do it. It might or might not earn you any money, but it'll be a good way to get better as a musician and arranger. Maybe eventually you'll use those skills in other ways. Maybe you'll just be that guy whose Soundcloud has over 500 nicely-recorded loops. Either one sounds fun to me.
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:08 PM on June 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

1) Is this "normal?"

2) Anyone else have this problem/blessing? What have you done with/about it?

Well, I got no idea how "normal" this might be, but it is definitely a thing I have experienced (although not very often), and certainly sounds like a thing that is not uncommon among musicians as part of their creative process (judging from a lot of interviews I've read or heard.)

Personally I don't get the snippets in my head so much as I stumble on snippets while aimlessly noodling around on an instrument. So they spring into my fingers more than they spring into my head, if you see what I mean. Also I tend not to record them because lazy and I figure if a snippet is "worth" using I'll remember it.

3) Your experiences and recommendations ... What can I do with the noises in my head?

I mean, it seems the fairly obvious thing is to use these snippets as a basis for making music? I can see that you've posted some stuff to Music, and I don't know what your usual creative process is but I don't think there's anything "wrong" or even unusual about taking snippets that have popped into your head and playing around with them to see if they develop into something more complete. Maybe snippet #247 becomes the start of a bass line, or snippet #333 becomes the first vocal melody in a chorus, or whatever. Or like nebulawindphone says, just play around with them to create loops, which can have auxiliary benefits or would just be fun for fun's sake.
posted by soundguy99 at 4:09 AM on June 13, 2020

Best answer: I have something like this. I just enjoy having a constant soundtrack to my life running all the time. Making music from it would be neat. You should do it.
posted by Toddles at 6:30 AM on June 13, 2020

« Older Feeling lost w/Therapist   |   Your value shouldn't rely on my opinion. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.