First and foremost, you need to have good ideas suitable for music licensing. The art of music licensing is the ability to match music with moving images. Having a good understanding of what would work where is important when you’re writing for sync. Sometimes the idea might be so inspired that rather than you writing the music for sync, the sync writes itself to the music. As a composer myself I often find this way to be the most effective and easier than writing specifically to a brief, however learning to do both is the key. Another area I recommend learning is design.
Having a great song idea is one thing. Having a great song idea and visual idea combined is your golden ticket.
Developing relationships early is huge. Quite often it’s simply a case of knowing the right people which can only come from networking. Do not spam or harass as you’ll likely end up on a block list even if you have the greatest music ever made. Websites like Music X Ray (www.musicxray.com) and Reverbnation (www.reverbnation.com) often have ways to connect your music to the right people. Simply emailing is highly unlikely to be successful unless you have a strong list of credible achievements that will make your email stand out from the 100’s of others they most likely receive daily.
With the current digital age of music being accessible everywhere, sometimes it can feel like a stones-throw into the sea trying to get your music heard. Once you receive feedback from music industry be it positive or negative, it is essential that you learn from the feedback. Do not burn bridges, but instead develop the relationship. More often than not the best relationships established in the music industry work both ways. You help them, whilst they help you.
So you might have a great idea, and you’ve been networking trying to get this idea heard. Now here comes the tough part – patience. This can often be an artists downfall. I can relate to this as negative feedback can often be difficult to accept, especially at first. If you’ve put a lot of yourself into a track, it can feel like a direct personal insult (it isn’t). My experience has allowed me to handle this better. One thing you must remember is, nobody sees the failed attempts. You can bet your life the most successful people in the world have failed more times than any competition. Nobody sees this, they see the success, the end result. This is exactly the same for music licensing. For every successful sync, you can guarantee they were turned down for loads prior to this. For every one success there may be a 100 no’s. Perseverance is key. Remember that everybody is different and you cannot please everyone in this industry. More often than not, timing, patience and perseverance go hand in hand with music licensing.
‘The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.’ – Stephen McCrannie.
Let’s now say you’ve caught the attention of a Music Industry pro. They’re interested and you’re on your way to landing your first license. One of the most common requests will be “Can you send over the instrumental?”. This can be another artists downfall. Not having instrumentals and stems at hand is the number one sync killer. In fact, instrumentals get licensed more than full versions so it is imperative to have these ready. If the instrumentals aren’t ready, be prepared to go back to your original session and export the instrumental version. Time is of the essence for licensing folk, they need everything more or less instantly because of time deadlines. Having instrumentals ready at hand and quick replying sets a strong sense of reliability between you and the licencor. First impressions count for everything, and if you are time efficient and organized they will continue to use you in the future.
Metadata is key for music supervisors finding your music. You must be willing to put a good amount of time into properly ingesting your tracks. Genres/sub-genres/keywords/lyrics/instruments used/BPM/Era/Influences/Restrictions. Yes it sounds like a lot, but if you want to be successful you need to be willing to do this. What makes your track stand out from the rest? The music industry has never been more congested, so you need to stand out from the crowd. This means including an eye catching description, all of the metadata being filled out properly and a professional looking cover art. Remember before any music has been heard, these will be the first things music supervisors see. You could be the next John Lennon but your track will most likely not even get played if these aren’t up to standard.
Naming your tracks correctly is also essential. Submitting tracks like “04 Song Title” is not recommended as music supervisors are usually swamped with music, they can’t be asked to remember who’s wrote every single track. This could be a potential downfall.
So many artists with strong potential have no easy way of being contacted. This can completely put off a music supervisor. They don’t have time to be hunting for an email that they may not find, or attempting to message via Soundcloud hoping that you check messages there. Your email needs to be clear and precise. Also remember that if your clear and precise email is – firstname.lastname@example.org you’re not likely to get an email. Your social links also need to be clear and precise. There’s going to be nobody contacting you with a license offer unless you’re easy to reach. If you’re linking your contacts to a soundcloud link, please keep it updated. Bio/Email/Facebook/Instagram/Twitter need to be mandatory and probably most importantly – your own website. There’s nothing more disappointing than a talented artist with no website. This says to the music supervisor one of 3 things – the artist is just starting out/can’t afford a website/too lazy to create a website. If all these areas are covered well, there is one last thing you will need. Luck. I can’t really include this as the 7th tip but it can be just as important as the rest. Having a stroke of luck where you find the right person at the exact right time is needed.
But remember the 6 tips and you’ll be ahead of the rest…