1. That Scary Dotted Line: Read any contract given to you, if you don’t know then ask
someone to go over an agreement with you. Never just sign any agreement without
understanding it. Ask the person who gave you the contract questions, if they can’t respond
back with answers, they get upset with you because you asked a question, or seem annoyed,
then more than likely they are not the company for you. So many have signed agreements
without really reading it and have given away all their rights to their music without even
2. Don’t Call Me CRAZY: Do not overly call and/or email a music supervisor or company
asking have they received your music or if it has been placed. This can come off as very
pushy, unprofessional and very annoying. Many music supervisors and companies are very
busy, hard at work…they can’t respond to every person when you want them to. If they are
interested, they will seek you out if they need anything else from you. In some cases, if
you’ve provided your P.R.O. and contact/payment information with a submission, you will
see your placement with them via your royalty statement, by watching the show and/or a
check in the mail. If you’re unsure they’ve received your music, do a simple follow up a few
days after you’ve sent it. Do not email or call them every day.
3. Be Consistent & Stay Current: getting a licensing placement can take time, and there are
so many factors that are involved with selecting music for a project. Be patient and submit
whenever you can, but while doing so, create the best music possible. I can’t stress enough
that being consistent with music is key to having a career in the music industry. You can’t
just have 10 eight year old songs, keep submitting those same songs for 5 years, not create
anything else, and expect those songs to keep placing and not sounding outdated. A lot of
music supervisors like to select current sounding music (unless it is a year dated project in
which they will specify). They often try to replace songs by major artists by coming to the
smaller artists because the music is still great but it is often cheaper for them (especially
when they have a small budget).
4. Wanna Get PAID? Get registered with a P.R.O. & register your music! This is a common
issue amongst composers, songwriters, & producers. They don’t realize that you absolutely
NEED this in order to receive royalties from the writer’s portion and/or publishing portion.
Someone may pay you upfront money, but as the author/composer of that composition you
are also entitled to receive royalties for your work. For example: How many of you have seen
“The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”? We all know the theme song right? It was written by Will
Smith and produced by Quincy Jones III. Now every time that show airs as a re-run, those
composers get paid in some way form or fashion via royalties from their P.R.O. You too
want to get paid for every re-run, every spin, every single time your music plays.
If you fail to get a P.R.O, then there are some un nice people in the world that will register
your music with their P.R.O.’s without you on there, submit it, get it licensed and guess who
will be getting your money, your royalties? Not you…
5. Do Your Research, Don’t Just Submit It: When emailing your music for submissions,
know what you are submitting for. Research the TV show, Film, Advertising Company,
Gaming Company that you are pitching your music to. For example: If you want to pitch
your music to the show EMPIRE, if you’ve done your research then you would know that
Empire’s music is mainly in the genre of Hip-Hop/Rap & Urban…if you know that, then
why would you send Country music for a show that is predominantly Hip-Hop/Rap &
Urban? So many fail to research the opportunity that they are pitching for. If they respond to
your email and ask you for something specific, don’t get submitter happy and send them
music that is irrelevant to what they specifically asked you for.
When contacting a music supervisor, know exactly what show(s) they are working on and the
type of music they generally go after. If that means you need to watch a few shows, click on
YouTube, HULU or Netflix, then pull out the bag of popcorn and start watching!
*Want to know who a music supervisor is on a project: well wait for those ending rolling
credits to any show or film…
6. Join A Music Library: This can be the easiest and best way you can help build your
catalog of licensing placements as many music supervisors use music libraries. Let these
companies work for you, especially if you haven’t mastered the art of selling yourself as a
composer/artist/band or you really don’t know how to get started. One drawback that is to be
expected is that most of these companies will take a percentage of publishing, but this is a
great way to start getting your music licensed.
7. Does It Sound Good? Don’t send mediocre demos, send quality music. Again this is a
common issue amongst composers, songwriters, artists and producers. It is very hard for a
music supervisor to license your music if it sounded like it was recorded in the toilet, the
vocals sound like a wolf crying, or the mix on the track sounds like static. Make sure you
have quality music that is mixed very well, as if it was being released on the radio. If you are
a songwriter that doesn’t sing, you may want to use a demo service or a new band/artist that
have the chops to bring your music to life. And for composers/producers, make sure your
instrument tracks are mixed properly, clear, and balanced.
8. Be creative with your songs: Be creative with the song topics/lyrics. Pitch songs that are
universal, commercial, not always about love and relationships. This goes especially for
commercial / advertising brands. They can’t sell a breakfast sandwich if your song is talking
about your girlfriend breaking your heart. They’d probably prefer a bright/quirky song that
has lyrics such as: waking up, the sun is shining, a beautiful day, early morning, etc. Even if
it is a love song or about relationships, be creative with the lyrics, get subliminal…challenge
yourself. For producers, try your best to stay away from loops and samples especially if you
don’t know if they are royalty free, public domain, etc. Most music supervisors and music
libraries do not want to deal with samples unless they say that it’s okay for a specific project.
9. Seek Out The INDEPENDENT: Seek out indie filmmakers, film students, new game
developers, new clothing companies, etc., anybody who will need music. You don’t always
have to start out with the big leagues. A lot of times, especially with composers, they want to
know what you’ve done prior to you contacting them. Many established companies are not
going to just ask you to compose a trailer or score their whole project without knowing you
can deliver. Artists/bands/songwriters, this is a great way to also start building a licensing
catalog and get your music into different places. Yes, you may be working for free but the
more you work, the more you place your music and develop your skills, the better your
resume will look to paying clients. Let these indie avenues pave the way for you.
10. Who Are You? Where Can I Hear Your Work? Be SOCIAL SAVVY: This is
extremely important for composers who score. Create a demo reel. If I’m music supervising a
project that calls for a scoring composer, you better believe I want to see / hear what you can
do, especially if you are unknown. Show me that you know what you are doing and make me
a believer in your work. You can create a demo reel without having a single placement.
For artists / songwriters / producers / composers, create a Web site that showcases your work
and that lets people know exactly who you are and what kind of music you create. Use outlets such as Vimeo, YouTube, even SoundCloud to showcase your music. Music
supervisors will often want to check out your Web site, links, and social media to see who you are…as they often promote unsigned artists.
By Kandi Robinson for NARIP.com
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