How to Submit Your Music for TV, Film, Commercials & More

Navigate the world of music licensing, researching opportunities, targeting music supervisors, and preparing professional submissions.

How to Submit Your Music for TV, Film, Commercials & More

For independent artists and musicians, securing music placements in TV shows, films, and other visual media can be a game-changer, providing significant exposure and potential revenue. Music sync licensingthe process of placing songs in these productions in exchange for an upfront fee and royaltieshas become a lucrative revenue stream, often surpassing traditional sources.

Many successful music placements have come from unknown artists rather than major label acts, with music supervisors seeking tracks that fit the tone and mood of a scene regardless of the artist's background.

To capitalize on these opportunities for music promotion, artists must understand the licensing process, research upcoming productions, and develop relationships with key decision-makers like music supervisors.

What You Need to Know About Music Licensing

Music licensing is crucial to securing music placements in TV, film, and other visual media. It involves obtaining the necessary permissions and agreements to use copyrighted musical works commercially. There are several types of licenses that artists and musicians need to be familiar with:

  • Synchronization license for music with visual media like films, TV shows, advertisements, and video games.
  • Master license for the use of a specific recorded version of a song.
  • Mechanical license for reproducing an artist's work in physical formats like CDs and vinyl.
  • Print rights license for printed sheet music.
  • Theatrical license for the on-stage performance of a song.
  • Public performance license for any broadcast of an artist's work, including concerts, radio, and background music.

Sync rights specifically cover the use of music with visual media like movies and TV shows. Licensing refers to the broader agreements and contracts for commercial use of music, involving parties such as the copyright owner (licensor), the party purchasing the license (licensee), publishers, and performing rights organizations (PROs).

To ensure proper licensing, artists must understand the business side of music licensing, including concepts like master and publishing rights, licensing elements, and obtaining permission from all rights holders. Accurate, complete, and consistent metadata is also essential for music supervisors to find and license your music.

How to Research Opportunities

Thorough research is crucial for identifying potential music placement opportunities and understanding the needs of music supervisors. Here are some effective strategies:

1) Utilize online resources. Leverage online databases, social media platforms, blogs, podcasts, and industry events to research music supervisors and their projects. Platforms like Deadline and The Sync Report can provide valuable insights into upcoming productions and music supervisor contacts.

2) Explore third-party licensing companies. Consider partnering with third-party licensing companies that have established relationships with the music supervision community. These companies can help facilitate connections and increase your chances of securing placements.

3) Stay updated on industry trends. Regularly monitor industry trends, opportunities, and challenges to stay ahead of the curve. This can help you tailor your approach and ensure your music aligns with current market demands.

4) Use online platforms. Utilize online platforms that connect artists directly with music supervisors. These platforms can streamline the process and increase your visibility within the industry.

5) Tailor your pitch. Research the specific projects and needs of the music supervisors you want to reach out to, and tailor your pitch accordingly 8 10. Demonstrate how your music fits their vision and requirements.

6) Analyze existing placements. Use tools like TuneFind and YouTube to discover music used in previous episodes or films. This can help you understand the types of music used in different genres and styles, allowing you to better position your work.

7) Identify key contacts. Identify the music supervisors working on the shows or movies you want to target, and research which supervisors work on the types of projects you're interested in. Reach out to them directly with a tailored pitch.

8) Submit to music libraries. Consider submitting your music to reputable music libraries. These libraries are often used by music supervisors to source tracks for various projects.

9) Build relationships. Actively research and build relationships with music supervisors. Attend industry events, network, and establish connections that can open doors for future opportunities.

How to Target Music Supervisors

Keep in mind that music supervisors have diverse preferences, budgets, and deadlines depending on the project they're working on. To increase your chances of securing coveted music placements, consider the following strategies:

1) Tailor your pitch. Craft a concise, professional, and personalized pitch for each music supervisor and project. Include a brief introduction, explain why your music is relevant, provide a link to your music, and mention your contact information, availability, and licensing terms. Demonstrate that you've researched the supervisor and the project, tailoring your pitch accordingly.

2) Avoid common pitfalls. Steer clear of attachments, spamming, or being overly pushy in your outreach. Instead, aim to build trust and rapport over time by positioning yourself as a reliable source of quality music.

3) Expand your network. Don't focus solely on music supervisors; connect with music editors and coordinators as well, as they can help make your music visible to decision-makers.

4) Seek professional representation. Consider enlisting the help of a music manager or sync agent to secure opportunities and navigate licensing negotiations on your behalf.

5) Craft a compelling introduction. Use a specific, targeted subject line in your initial email introduction that demonstrates your familiarity with the music supervisor and the project or show they work on.

6) Offer unique and authentic music. Create music that is authentic and unique to your style, rather than attempting to copy what's already out there 12. Aim for a memorable presentation to help your submission stand out from the countless others received by music supervisors.

7) Persistence and professionalism. Be politely persistent, but don't overdo it – aim for a maximum of three contacts. Respect any stated policies on how music supervisors prefer to receive submissions, and avoid contacting those who have indicated they don't want unsolicited music.

8) Strategic connections. Instead of cold-calling studios or supervisors directly, target representation from pitching companies that have existing relationships with music supervisors, as this can increase your chances of getting your music heard.

How to Prepare Your Submission

Follow the steps below to ensure a professional and well-prepared submission.

1) Copyright your music. Familiarize yourself with music licensing, especially sync licensing, then copyright your music. This way, you can make sure you receive proper compensation for your work.

2) Prepare a compelling pitch. Craft a pitch that showcases the quality of your music and its fit for the project. This should include:

  • High-quality files in a lossless format, preferably WAV (not MP3)
  • A "sounds like" description in the subject line
  • An instrumental version of your tracks
  • Metadata, lyrics, and stems

3) Curate your submission. When first introducing yourself, provide a focused selection of your best representative tracks, rather than a large volume. This allows you to make a strong initial impression.

4) Provide context. Use comparison references to help explain your project, but be realistic 10. Include a pitch document with key information like synopsis, cast, budget, etc.

5) Ensure quality. Your song recordings must have top-notch production quality, comparable to other music placed in TV and film.

6) Include necessary information. Provide all the necessary metadata in your song files, such as contact information. Sign up with a performance rights organization (for example, ASCAP, Global Music Rights, BMI and the like) to collect royalties, and make sure you have the necessary permissions from any co-writers.

7) Organize your submission. Provide links to both the full song and the instrumental version. Get your tracks ready in high-quality formats, write clear descriptions, embed metadata, and create a catalog spreadsheet.

How to Pitch and Network

Persistence and professionalism are key when pitching and networking for music placements. However, unlike with many other music promotion methods, social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are generally unsuitable for direct pitching, as most supervisors prefer email communication.

Attending industry events, film festivals, and pitch fests is another effective way to catch attention of the right people. Here are some tips on how to carry yourself on such events:

  • Go with a friend or connect with others beforehand to feel more comfortable.
  • Have a drink to loosen up, but don't get drunk.
  • Start casual conversations and look for openings to discuss your work.
  • When meeting industry professionals, focus on connecting first before pitching.
  • Decide whether to pitch your work or simply network and get their contact information for a future pitch.
  • If pitching, keep it concise and engaging, covering key elements like the hook, logline, comparisons, and a strong finish.
  • Be prepared to answer follow-up questions without getting defensive or apologetic.
  • Avoid common mistakes like handing out scripts, being a tag-along, or using gimmicks.

Networking is essential in the film industry, as it's often about "who you know". Attend events, use online communities like Stage 32, and seek recommendations from respected figures to add credibility. Keep pitches short, clear, and exciting (5-20 minutes max).

The music industry has changed a lot in recent years. Now, there's an excellent opportunity for independent artists and musicians to gain exposure and make money by featuring their music in TV shows, films, and other visual media. However, this can be tricky to do and requires some knowledge and skill.

By embracing the strategies described in this article and continuously refining approach, independent artists can increase their chances of securing coveted music placements, amplifying their reach, and forging a successful career in the ever-evolving entertainment industry.

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