Category: Sync Licensing

4 Tips for Getting Your Music in Commercials

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

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 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!

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How To License Your Music for Film and TV

How to License Your Music for Film and TV—Four Tips to Improve Your Odds

By Cliff Goldmacher Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Written by: Cliff Goldmacher

I’ve been lucky enough to have song placements in both films and television shows, and I’m deeply grateful for those opportunities. While I can safely say there is no magic potion to guarantee a placement, there are certain things that you, as a songwriter, can do to improve your odds. A few of my best tips are below:

Make Sure Your Song Is Professionally Performed and Recorded

This may sound obvious, but—when you’re pitching to film and TV—there is absolutely no room for a poorly sung, poorly performed, or poorly recorded version of your song. Why? You only have one chance to make a first impression.

Put yourself in the position of the music supervisor or studio executive who is listening to hundreds of songs for a project. If the recording sounds like it was done by amateurs, or if the voice makes you lunge for the mouse or volume control, you’re ready to move on to the next song… regardless of whether or not you’ve heard the melody or lyrics, and regardless of how wonderful the song may be.

In the end, you don’t want a poor recording or performance to bias the listener against your fantastic song before they have a chance to actually listen to it. This means that, if you want someone to give you money for your song, you might need to invest some money to present it in the best possible light.

Do Your Homework

Randomly submitting songs in hopes of landing a placement doesn’t make much sense, and it’s a waste of your and the recipient’s time and energy. Pitching for opportunities that you aren’t a good fit for is not a sign of a professional, and doing so frequently can damage your reputation. By doing a little homework before submitting your song, you can avoid this waste and preserve your reputation.

You need to find out which music supervisors are looking for music and which projects they need music looking for. Good places to start are industry pitch sheets and industry magazines, which often contain information on upcoming projects and who is looking for what. Once you know what the projects and who the contacts are, find out all you can about exactly what the contacts are looking for. Make sure your song fits those criteria.

Make Sure You Have Complete Ownership of the Recording

In order to give permission to a film or TV show to use your music, you will need to own your recording. Don’t let your pitch plans be derailed (or even delayed) down the line by musicians who won’t allow you to use their recorded performance, or by studios who stake a claim in your master recording.

You can avoid this by obtaining the necessary releases up front from all session musicians and singers involved in the project and by making sure that the studio where you record gives you full ownership of the master recording.

Having your songs “free and clear” for use also tells music supervisors that you’re a professional who knows what to do and who values their limited time. That’s a good impression to make.

Be Known For A Style of Music

While it’s good to be able to write in a variety of styles, you and your music will be easier to remember if you become known for specializing in a particular style, especially if you’re known for doing it well. Since music supervisors are often asked to gather songs by style, being known as a “go-to” person in a style increases your odds of being remembered when the time comes.

When it comes to placing songs in film and TV, being a great songwriter is often not enough. You need to be a savvy businessperson who is willing to take care of the unromantic day-in, day-out details of a career in music. You need to do the work, including the above steps.

That being said, there is no greater thrill than turning on your TV or going to a theater and hearing one of your songs playing. Somehow, it makes all your effort worthwhile.

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