Many musicians dream of their songs appearing on TV or in a film. Just wanting your music on TV isn’t enough! The chance that someone will come out of the blue and hand you money to use your song is very slim. You need to be out there promoting your own music and networking with people involved in the film and TV industries. Start small and work your way up from there! It will be hard to score a place on a hit TV show if you’ve never licensed any of your music before.
Sarah Sharp is one songwriter who has gotten a strong understanding of the publishing industry. Her songs have appeared in ads for Chanel, Dell, Macy’s, and ABC’s “Revenge.” In this article that originally appeared on Hypebot, she shares 7 tips she’s learned about getting licensed.
1. Go to film festivals. Make friends with filmmakers at every level of production & success.
I particularly get excited when I meet editors. Editors will often choose from their personal music library for temp music in their rough edits and often, everyone becomes accustomed to the temp music & it stays. Take a genuine interest in what people are trying to write or get made and help each other on the way up.
I have read my friends’ scripts and given feedback and made them mix tapes of indie artists years before the film finally gets made. The 1st film I music supervised was a Jason Lee, Crispin Glover film called “Drop Dead Sexy”. I probably earned $1/hr by the time it was all said and done for the time I put in, but one of my songs ended up in the film and I have made several thousand dollars in royalties from that one placement. BIG PICTURE.
2. Get a final mix of your entire album with no vocal.
There are a lot of places where the instrumental version of your song can be used. Also, it’s often helpful to be able to comp together both versions around the dialogue. This promo for ABC TV’s “Revenge” used our Kaliyo song “Deep Girl.” It barely resembles the full song, but they made great use of it by weaving both the instrumental and vocal version in and around the voice over.
3. Don’t be a pain in the ass and get out of your own way.
Sometimes people get a little whiff of success and they get so caught up in the idea of what could be or worrying about not “getting screwed”, that they blow the whole thing. If someone wants to use your song and you have never placed anything before, just say “YES & THANK YOU.” Reply immediately. Be the easiest, most reliable person to work with on the planet. Have a lawyer read your contract and then just say yes. A really smart and as yet still accessible/affordable music lawyer is Amy Mitchell. Tell her I sent you.
4. If you have a great cover version of a really well-known song, try to get it to the publisher of that song.
Often their hands are tied because they own the song, but the record label owns the really famous master. Some publishers would love to know about a fantastic version of their song that they can actually clear.
To see the other 3 tips, check out the full article on Hypebot.