How much money can you make off a TV placement? Well, it all depends.
I have a beat placement on a TruTV show called Operation Repo. This is an important point: Royalties are PASSIVE INCOME. In other words, once that beat is written, you don't have to do anything else to make it keep generating money for you. If it's a hit, they'll continue to play it on some oldies station way into the future. Even when Operation Repo gets canceled, they'll still be playing the old episodes somewhere and I'll still be collecting money from it without lifting a finger. Nice! That's why we got into music after all.
The basics: First off, royalties are collected and distributed by a Performing Rights Organization, or PRO. The big ones are ASCAP, BMI & SESAC. I'm a member of BMI. You can only be a member of one PRO at a time. Some say BMI pays better for film/tv and ASCAP pays better for CDs/downloads. Who knows. Anyway, once you join a PRO, you let them know where/when your work is being performed. For this example, I had a beat I licensed (leased) to TruTV for the theme song to the show Operation Repo. The production company has to send Cue Sheets (a list of what music was used in the show, who wrote it and how long it played for) to BMI so they can pay me (after they take their cut of course!). This is hard to get done. In my experience, no one wants to send in cue sheets. You can call all day and no one cares and you can't do anything about it except keep bugging them (or threaten to put a cap in dey ass). You can bitch and moan to BMI and they'll just tell you that they have to get the cue sheets from the production company and to call them.
Anyway, I landed that show a few years back and it's still playing. I've made my BMI Royalty Statement available for download so you can check it out. Off that one show, I made close to 7k that quarter. There are 4 quarters in a year and the show has been playing for 8 seasons, so it's been a money maker for me for sure. This was the first project that opened my eyes to the power of royalties. It's great that you're leasing a beat for $19.99. But you're not going to retire on that. You're going to retire on the royalties you'll earn on a hit track. Why do you think so many successful musicians stop releasing music (they don't do SHIT)? It's because they don't HAVE to. They don't have to tour any more because they're getting benjaminz from royalties. That 80's song that plays on the radio once in a while that you laugh at and say "Oh dang, I 'member dis record!"—that's money in someone's pocket yo! Someone who sits at home watching Netflix while you're gridin' away at the local collective and making beatz part time! Hopefully that'll be you someday and soon playa.
There are different pay scales for different uses: radio plays pay different than TV plays. An instrumental track pays less than a track with a vocal, etc. These are listed in the royalty statement. A lot of people worry about joining a PRO, but don't worry about it unless you have a beat on the radio, TV show, movie (not one your friend made using his iPhone!), commercial, etc. In other words, you have to have your beat in something that they can track in order to pay you.
There are other reasons to join a PRO and a good one is networking. They often have events you can go to and meet up-and-comers as well as established writers. Also, they throw parties that can be fun. Last year I went to Vegas to watch Pitbull give a private show and accept some awards. It was cool to get tanked, eat and hang out with Pitbull on someone else's tab.
You don't HAVE to join a pro btw. You can do a direct license (which is what a beat lease is) where you get paid directly from whoever is licensing (leasing) your beat. If your beat ends up as a hit single or on a CD then you'll probably want to join a PRO. Anyway, let me know if you have any questionz.