Last night I spoke at a seminar on music licensing with my friends Van (Viacom) and Sebastian (Imagem). As promised, find the main gist of what I talked about below.
This is something that can be hard for an artist to hear, but it’s not about you. It’s about you helping someone else, the music supervisor, do their job. You are there for them, not the other way around. It’s totally understandable that this is not the first thought in an artist’s mind after they’ve just poured their blood, sweat and tears into a very personal piece of art, and spent hard-earned money to properly record it. But really, it’s not about you. A few easy ways to be helpful and increase your chances of success:
- Do your research and only send appropriate music to appropriate people. Don’t send rap to a period piece show, don’t send punk to Gossip Girl. Don’t send music to the producer or the lighting lady.
- Don’t send too much music. Send a song, maybe two or three tops. No one owes you the time it takes to listen to your entire album to see if there is an appropriate song on there.
- If you can, find a person you may have in common with the supervisor to either pass on the music for you, or to reference in your email. Make sure this person is relevant to the topic at hand. It will add credibility if you are friendly with someone the supervisor has worked with on another show, or used to be in a band with, or has placed music from. Check with this mutual contact first before mentioning them.
It’s All About Timing
Now that you’ve made contact and received a positive note about your music, timing comes into play. Is the supervisor working on an active show? Is that show working on an episode that needs that mellow lullaby style song you sent? Is that song still in her mind when an episode or a commercial comes around that does need that lullaby? Or did it disappear into the abyss that is her iTunes library and will she not remember it right that moment. Timing is everything, and you can’t control it.
Sometimes it might take years before your song gets placed. Just keep writing, recording, touring. Synch placements are not something you can count on. The fact that your music is “perfect for Parenthood” is not important. It’s not about you. The supervisor for that show probably has 100 other songs that were sent with that qualification, and they might even be better than yours. Position yourself as helpful to the supervisor, and it might lead to success, even if it takes years. We have albums on Family Records that ended up with their biggest placement four years after they were released.
Luck, And Being Prepared For It
Sometimes, you just have to get lucky. You might meet someone at a bar who works on a TV show. You might be friends with someone whose brother is a fan of yours and turns out to be the assistant to some big director. You cannot influence luck, but you can be prepared for it so you can capitalize on what comes to you. It would be a shame to have a big song placement and not have your web presence in order, or have no posts on your blog to further draw new fans in, or have the song for sale when the episode airs. Work hard to be ready for luck to come your way.