Even in today’s internet-centric world, traditional media such as radio, TV, and direct mail can be incredibly effective promotional tools.
TV represents an ever-increasing opportunity for musicians, as new channels continue to be introduced – niche shows and commercials along with them. But it can also be a highly competitive field to get into.
So how do you get your music on TV? What do you need to do to get your music heard by dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of people at a time?
Here’s a quick and dirty overview of how to get your music on TV.
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2 Ways To Get Your Music On TV
There are basically two different ways to get your music on TV.
The first is by getting your music placed on a show or commercial. The second is by appearing on TV.
It’s safe to say you will follow a bit of a different process depending on what you’re trying to achieve.
We’ll take a quick look at each so you know what options are available to you.
Getting Your Music Placed
In my experience, getting your music placed for a TV show is the longer, more difficult process. But the rewards are proportionate, meaning you’ll likely get more out of it than just being on TV.
There are many different ways to get your music placed, and there isn’t necessarily a right way or wrong way.
Here’s an overview of the steps you need to take to get your music on TV:
- Find opportunities. ReverbNation, Sonicbids, TAXI, Broadjam… there are a lot of sites you can go to find placement opportunities. Some sites simply list opportunities and leave it to the musician to pursue them. Others will pitch your music for you (for a fee). Choose your tools wisely.
- Do your research. What kind of music are music supervisors looking for? It makes absolutely no sense to submit music randomly without knowing what’s needed for projects that are currently in production. Once you know what projects are available, watch the shows to find out if your music is actually the right fit, or if you can produce something that is. Also find out how to contact supervisors and make a note of their contact information.
- Pitch your music. First, get in touch with supervisors and find out whether or not they’re interested in your music. If they are, send your material over as quickly as possible. Make sure to send them high-quality mastered tracks and not scratchy demos.
- Persevere. Did your first pitch get rejected? Don’t worry about it. Keep submitting as you see new opportunities pop up. Persistence is the only sure road to success.
Making A TV Appearance
From a broader perspective, there are two ways to make a TV appearance: you can either apply for a spot on a TV show, or you can become newsworthy, which means crafting an interesting story that the media will be interested in.
Let’s start by looking at how to book a TV appearance.
Book An Appearance
Local morning talk/news shows often book musicians for shorter performances. This usually entails playing a song or two, answering a couple of interview questions, and plugging your upcoming show.
So if you want to show up on TV, you should look for local shows that already feature musicians and find their contact information, which is usually on their website. Don’t bother reaching out to shows that don’t feature music in some way.
You’ll also want to pay attention to specific themes, events or seasons. For example, I play in a Def Leppard tribute band called Adrenalize. We managed to get on a local morning show because they were having a “tribute week.” If you can tie into a theme like that, you’ll increase your chances of getting on TV.
It may also be possible to engineer an appearance on a show like The Ellen DeGeneres Show if what you’re doing is particularly interesting – but your chances aren’t as good. Again, the process is more or less the same. Learn what her tastes are, tie into specific themes or events, make a killer video, and promote it like crazy.
My friend Daniel Guy Martin once scored a gig on Sonicbids and his music was featured on Air Canada’s in-flight entertainment system.
The best way to describe his music is “spontaneous acoustic guitar instrumental music”. He often comes up with ideas on the spot. His recording process was also equally spur-of-the-moment, as he usually recorded without too many preconceived ideas about what was going to come out.
Because of his unique approach, he was also profiled on the news and was shown going around playing spontaneous songs for people in the public.
In 2011, I was also featured on TV because I was performing at the Calgary Fringe Festival. That may have been a “pity appearance”, because one of the organizers knew that we didn’t sell many tickets for early performances (we managed to pack out the last few dates though), and she chose my band to talk about the Fringe Festival on air.
Unfortunately, in that instance, my music wasn’t really on TV, but I was interviewed about my show, which featured my music, so it was still a neat opportunity.
I also made an appearance more recently on Canadian Cougar Club, and that happened because of being well-connected in my locality. My backup singer Anna and I got to play two songs and also participated in the “talk” portions.
Bottom line – do something the media would find interesting, and be proactive about capturing their attention with press releases, article submissions, outreach campaigns, and so on.
The return on investment from getting your music on TV can vary. Sometimes it will lead to new opportunities and exposure, and at other times it may not do much for your career.
As with anything else, it’s best to see TV as part of your bigger promotional flywheel, not as a one-time event that will propel you to stardom. Keep making music. Keep playing shows. Keep sending emails and posting to social media. Make more TV appearances. It’s the whole that adds up to bigger things.