To an independent musician, the words “commercial placement” usually mean one of two things: you just sold out to “The Man” and ruined your artistic conscience, or you just earned a nice check and are excited about all the exposure your music is getting.
As an artist myself, I understand the first reaction. But it’s the second reaction I want to focus on today.
Getting your music placed in a commercial can mean great exposure for your band, an inroad to future licensing placements, and most importantly, an actual (often significant) payday.
But getting your foot in the licensing door can be difficult, especially when you are trying to get a placement in a commercial. Since companies allocate larger amounts of money for advertising, musicians can usually expect a higher payday from commercial placements. You’re still not going to become a millionaire by getting a song placed in a commercial, but getting your music licensed regularly helps generate a good income stream for many artists.
So how do you go about getting your song placed in a commercial? We’ve compiled 4 tips to help you get started.
1 – Create Great Music
This point can never be driven in enough. You need to have fantastic music. Spend some quality time getting a great recording and making sure that your music is everything it can be. Sub-par music won’t get placed, so keep an eye on the musical intangibles (the song itself, the instrumentation, the production, the vocals, etc.) and on the quality of the recording. This is especially important if you are recording at home. Make sure your songs are recorded well, mixed well, and have been mastered. If you need some help with the last step, check out The Mastering Source.
2 – Create Specifically
Keep in mind that most brands (and in conjunction, their commercials) will have a specific identity in mind. If you are creating a new piece of music to submit for a commercial, you need to know that brand identity and create music that works within that identity. Similarly, if you are submitting music that you have previously created–like the single from your last album–make sure it’s a good fit for the commercial you are submitting it to.
Remember that most commercials want songs that will make the viewer feel positively about the brand. For most commercials, an upbeat song in a major key is more likely to get picked than your breakup ballad in A-minor.
If you song has a specific “feel” to it, that can also aid in commercial placements. For example, if you’ve written a bright, summery song, you might want to pitch it to an allergy or sunscreen commercial.
3 – Research the Supervisor
Before your song can reach people’s living rooms, it has to reach a music supervisor. If you are looking for a specific ad placement, make sure you look for the contact information of the music supervisor who is in charge of that project. Knowing who you need to talk to is the first hurdle if you are looking to get placed in a commercial for a specific brand.
If you are more generally looking for placements, there are tons of online services you can use to submit your music for consideration. However, it’s still a great idea to dig into the submission machine and find the actual human who will be listening to your songs. A personal connection can go a long way in differentiating your submission from the other 500 submissions.
4 – Submit Correctly
In the same way that you need to know who you’re submitting to, you need to make sure you are submitting the right way. Some sites only accept direct submissions. Some supervisors work through third party websites.
Regardless of how you go about looking for submissions, I encourage you to revisit Step 2 with a submission lens. If you are creating specifically, you need to submit specifically. If the submission says “Hip-Hop Only” and you throw in your grunge rock track, you are not helping yourself by being a stand out submission. You are only frustrating the person that listened to your track even though it was clearly not what they were looking for (some submission sites, like musicxray.com have a computer pre-screen the music before it ever reaches a person.). So don’t waste your time, and don’t waste the supervisor’s time. Do a little research, and submit to licensing opportunities you have a chance of landing (this is called targeting and we wrote a whole blog about it!).
You should always respect the submission guidelines that the music supervisor has laid out. However, I do recommend looking for a good contact email if you submit through a third party website. Following up (without being annoying!) is vital when you are trying to get your music placed.
Have any additional tips in getting music placed in commercials? What steps have you taken to get your music licensed? Let us know in the comments below!
- Music Licensing 101
- Getting Your Music Placed in Film and TV: 4 Tips to Improve Your Odds
- Making It Without A Record Label