Have you ever thought about getting your music featured in TV and films?
Do you wish you could get your music into the hands of decision makers at labels?
Then placement and licensing opportunities are exactly what you’ve been looking for.
But where do you get started, and who do you pitch to? What are music libraries and exclusive or non-exclusive agreements?
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What Types Of Opportunities Are There?
Netflix is beginning to produce more content than ever before.
People now spend more time on YouTube than all other social networks combined.
In short, the popularity of video and audio/visual content is growing fast.
If you’re looking to find placement opportunities, it would be unwise to ignore these trends. There has never been a better time to get your music into the hands of music supervisors, radio hosts or DJs, and even major label A&R representatives. Although it is an increasingly competitive field to be in, there is also more need for music than ever before.
You can get your music placed in:
- TV shows
- Online videos or a web series
- Films and movies
- Video games
- And more
The above is but a short list of growing opportunities. It is even possible to find songwriting opportunities or get your music in front of major label people by going through the right channels (Music Gorilla claims to do this – more on that in a moment). There are never any guarantees, but you could even be extended a contract by a label if your music gets into the right hands.
Some artists have also grown their fan base, gone on tour, started bands, or have found other outlets for their creativity and modes of monetization as result of being placed.
Where Can I Go To Find Placement Opportunities?
Finding opportunities is easier than you might think.
But finding the right ones can be somewhat challenging.
Here’s the kind of scenario that often plays out in real life. Let’s say you’re a rapper. But music supervisors aren’t looking for Rap and Hip-Hop music right now, they’re looking for Smooth Jazz. It wouldn’t make any sense for you to apply to a listing like that, because Hip-Hop isn’t what’s getting placed right now. Unfortunately, there’s no demand for Hip-Hop.
There are only two things you can do in a situation like that:
- You can wait until Rap and Hip-Hop are in vogue again and start submitting your music then.
- You can write Smooth Jazz and see if you can get your music placed.
The second option might sound opportunistic to some, but many artists make pursuing licensing and placements their full-time job. They’ll create a large catalog of material so they can apply to virtually any kind of listing. If you want to increase your chances of getting placed, this is what you must do.
I know it probably seems overwhelming, because what this means is that you can’t just be the talent. You may also need to become a producer and an engineer. But for reasons I’ll talk about in a moment, this isn’t as intimidating as it may first appear.
With that said, here several sites you can join to find potential opportunities:
- Music Gorilla
- Third Side Music
- Film Music Network
- ThinkSync Music
- Transition Music Corporation
- And many others
Some are free, some will cost you money. But the more you spend, the better the quality of opportunities tend to be too.
Unless you have an exclusive agreement (if you’re just getting started, you don’t), it’s worth signing up for as many sites as you realistically can, see what kind of music decision makers are looking for, create a library of music (if you don’t have one already), and start applying everywhere.
But do not sign up with every music library out there, even if you’re tempted to. Let’s explore why.
Is It Worth Submitting To Music Libraries?
Music libraries have large catalogs of music for which they seek to secure sync licenses.
The opportunity sounds promising enough for artists. After all, who wouldn’t love submitting their music once and then sitting back to collect royalties? This isn’t exactly what happens in practice.
The main thing to be aware of is the agreement. Is it exclusive or non-exclusive? If you sign an exclusive deal, it means the music you create can’t be licensed anywhere else. Restrictive? No doubt! Don’t be too quick to get into an exclusive deal unless the terms are especially attractive.
Since music libraries have massive catalogs, the chances of them randomly picking your music out for a placement opportunity is relatively slim. I’m not saying they won’t help you get some bites, but they may not have a reason to prioritize you over thousands of others.
A non-exclusive agreement would allow you to utilize more services. The only problem with this is that having multiple companies representing your music could cause some issues with music supervisors. They may get pitched the same music by multiple sources, leading to confusion and irritation. Plus, you might end up losing money. If multiple parties are looking to collect public performance royalties, it can end up in a situation where no one gets those royalties, including you.
So, joining more than one music library isn’t always advisable.
Also take a moment to look over other parts of the agreement before making a commitment. How will royalties be paid out, and what fees will the music library keep? Will they be taking any public performance royalties? Will they be negotiating for synchronization fees?
When it comes to signing an agreement with a music library, there’s more than meets the eye, and it’s best to talk to someone with experience – or even an entertainment lawyer – before you sign the papers.
But I will say this – it’s worth working with at least one music library to help get your music placed. Find one that’s right for you.
How Can I Compete With Major Label Acts?
I know, it probably seems as though major artists have a leg up on you in terms of opportunities. To some extent, that is true.
But what’s amazing about music placements is that even demos and independent releases often get placed in TV shows and movies. That’s right, I said demos and independent releases. Plus, supervisors sometimes require music that sounds like it’s from a decade past, which means genre and what’s popular today may not factor into their final decision.
So, supervisors aren’t just looking for top 40 material. If it’s the right song, and it evokes the right mood for the specific scene they’re looking to place it in, they’ll use it.
This means whether you’re a songwriter, composer, or independent recording artist, there may be opportunities for you to tap into.
Additionally, independent artists tend not to be as busy as major artists. Getting someone like Ed Sheeran to sit down to record a 10 second clip might not be in the cards. Many shows and movies require source music, music that appears to be coming from a radio, jukebox, car stereo, and so on, in a TV show. The music may only play for a few seconds, but it’s still needed. This can be an easy way for independents to find their footing and get placed.
What Is A Music Supervisor?
The music supervisor’s job is to find music that fits the specific emotion of a scene in a TV show or film. They work closely with the director to determine what’s needed.
When you see a listing on a site like ReverbNation or Sonicbids, there’s a good chance it’s coming from a music supervisor or at least someone who’s connected to them.
They will review a large amount of material from artists, writers, as well as publishers before taking their top picks to the director.
Once they’ve narrowed down their selections, they will bring them to the director for review. The director will only ever hear the few selections the supervisor picked out, and ultimately it will be their decision as to whether your song gets used in their production.
How Do I Get My Music Placed?
If you’ve been following along to this point, you probably have a good idea about where to go to get your music placed. But here’s a quick summary, just so we’re on the same page.
- Sign up with the above pitching or tip sheet services like TAXI and Broadjam. Once logged in, you should see plenty of listings to apply to. Submit your music to ones that are relevant to you.
- Reach out to music supervisors directly. Supervisors are not obligated to use your music, even if you reach out to them personally. Moreover, if you have no credits, they may not even pick up the phone or answer your email. But many are open to receiving and reading polite emails. If you believe you have something they need to hear, then reaching out directly could work out in your favor.
- Sign up with a music library. Find a music library you resonate with and get them to represent you.
Beyond that, you can attend conferences (put on by the likes of TAXI or ASCAP), network and meet people, grow your own library of songs, improve your production techniques, and grow your email list and social following.
No harm can come from building your own fan base, and down the line it could mean better placement opportunities, amazing exclusive deals, a chance to work with known artists, the opportunity to tour the world, and so on.
Here’s a tip for when you’re first getting started. Don’t turn anything down, not even playing in a rundown, dive bar 50 miles outside of town. You never know where it could lead. The weirdest sounding gigs might just be the ticket to something amazing in your future. Do it all with a smile and a great attitude. But do be careful – there are weirdos and people who will try to take advantage of you, so if it seems sketchy, then don’t take the gig. Otherwise, go for it!
Once you’re established, you can pick and choose what gigs to take. Until then, you should be open for business to everyone, even things that don’t pay much or anything at all.
Here are some other ways to get your music into video content. I wouldn’t call these “placement opportunities” per se, but they can still help you get exposure and even make some money from your music.
- Join HITRECORD. HITRECORD is a collaborative production company. If your music is chosen for a production, you will get paid for its use. A wonderful idea via actor and filmmaker Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
- Encourage your fans to use your music in their YouTube videos. If your distributor collects YouTube royalties on your behalf (CD Baby does this by default, but you must pay for it with a distributor like DistroKid), then encouraging your fans to use your music in their videos allows you to collect advertising royalties. Just tell your fans not to freak out when your distributor flags the content. It shouldn’t affect their channel in any way, though ads will begin showing on those videos.
- Use your music in your own YouTube videos. This is essentially the same thing as getting your fans to use your music in their videos. Your distributor will monetize your videos and pass on royalties to you.
As you are likely aware, augmented and virtual reality are growth sectors. In the future, there will likely be opportunities to get your music into VR video games, AR apps, and the like, if there aren’t already.
Video is exploding right now. And most if not all productions require at least one track, if not multiple. If you’re serious about finding placement opportunities, you must keep an eye on trends and changes to how video is created and consumed.
If you can’t seem to find any suitable opportunities, you probably aren’t looking hard enough. There are many available, and it’s just a matter of putting yourself out there.