Lately I've been fielding a lot of questions by songwriters and composers looking for ways to get their music licensed on TV, in film, and on commercials.
How do I even get my stuff considered for commercials?
The short answer to this question is “hit the pavement.” Luckily, I’m going to give you the long answer too!
There are several options when it comes to getting your music in front of people who consistently license music. Here are just a few ideas to help get you started:
1) Contact them directly – This is definitely the hardcore sales route. It is probably the most daunting and least appetizing approach, but it also allows you to play some solid odds. While there really aren’t that many people directly in charge of music specifically at agencies, there ARE a lot of people involved in the final decision. Use your current connections and see if you know someone who knows someone and reach out.
2) Non-Exclusive Companies – The last article I wrote was 2 parts and detailed some companies like Jingle Punks and Pump Audio who represent music for placement in film, TV, and advertising. This is probably the EASIEST thing you can do. However, you have zero control over price, exposure, there is a ton of competition, and so on. Read the full article for more. All that said, if you’re just cranking out music and your goal is side or passive income or hobby money, this can be a great option.
3) Synch Companies/Reps – These guys are basically are similar to non-exclusives; their goals are the same, but they work with “real” artists and take a fairly hefty percentage of fees. They can be individuals repping certain catalogs or artists, or companies looking to find the next big thing via synch opportunities. These people are really great at what they do and provide the same services as a major publisher or label might, but only to music supervisors and producers (generally speaking).
4) Majors/Major Indies – Everyone knows enough about these types of companies to know that some are definitely better than others. Do your research before picking which ones to shop your music to and be sure they have a pro-active approach to licensing music (most at least KNOW this is important at this point). The issue here is that you’re being VERY indirect about getting music placed since it takes lots of effort and time to land a deal. They also aren’t always the most organized entities and getting paid can be hairy and inaccurate. The benefit is that usually you get some sort of advance (which is recouped however) to float you for a bit. They also will go over more than just licensing opportunities for you and have a lot more resources and financial backing.
5) Music Libraries – Libraries are basically a combination of Majors + Non-Exclusive companies. These guys are great in the sense that they are hyper-active about getting their catalogs used. The bad news is the dollars are small and they keep most of them. You’ll want at least 5 albums of material to pitch to them as a “library” to make it worth your while, and then also be sure they know you’re available to write custom music for any projects that arise. Library music is great for the same people who can take advantage of non-exclusives. If you’re an artist, you could look at them as a way to exploit and side-project instrumentals you may want to work on, or as an outlet for custom scoring for ads, trailers, and TV promos. Usually you’re paid a flat fee for any track you write, plus you get your performance royalties. The other nice thing about libraries is they’re really aggressive about collecting/reporting their income.
6) Get Notorious – Obviously there are positive and negative ways to do this, but let’s keep it on the up-and-up! This essentially just busting your butt creating AMAZING music, playing live, and driving metrics that you can present. If you’ve got a million YouTube hits, someone should be taking notice of you. Thousands of Twitter followers? That’s a great start. Simply being a great music entrepreneur can drive you into some amazing opportunities all on it’s own. And while this may be obvious, it may NOT be what you’re currently focusing on. More on this in a later article. Suffice it to say, get great, and get great at touting your greatness.
Hopefully this gives you some ideas about where to start when it comes to getting your music licensed – keep the questions coming (the GOOD questions!) and don’t forget to follow me on twitter for more useful tips and ideas shamelessly pilfered from other great tweeters.