So you've decided to pursue a career in the music licensing business. Welcome to the world of sync licensing! Today I want to talk about how to land your first TV placement.
The first TV placement is always the hardest. For some it can take several years of working in the business before achieving success. Some others might get their first placement within the first year. Everyone is different, so don't let others discourage you. I'd like to help out anyone who hasn't gotten that coveted first placement yet.
Check out this list of helpful tips!
Write and record a lot of music. The more music you have out there, the better your chances are of getting placements. Make it a habit to record every week. Don't sacrifice quality though, because this is a highly competitive business! Your efficiency will increase as you go.
Diversify the libraries that you work with. Don't just dump everything into one library, try different ones and you will learn which ones are the best, which ones work for you, and which ones are graveyards. Always be sure to read their contracts, keep your writer's share for backend royalties and don't ever give up any writer's share to non-writers.
Record different styles of music. Try your hand at a variety of styles, you never know what will be in demand. Many libraries have the basics already covered, but niche styles might be few and far between. Experiment and have fun with it!
Write music for briefs. Briefs (bespoke music) are specific requests for music that are sent by either a library or client. Libraries send out briefs to composers on their roster who they feel will be a good fit. When sending music to a library, tell them that you are available to write for briefs and hopefully they can add you to their list. Check out my blog on Writing Music for Briefs.
Work with exclusive libraries. Exclusive libraries are ones that want to be the sole publisher for your music (as opposed to non-exclusive and royalty-free libraries). Almost every new composer is hesitant to work with an exclusive library. However, the lion's share of my placements come from exclusive libraries and I rarely upload to non-exclusive libraries these days (unless I have spare tracks that were written for briefs and weren't accepted). The reason they want exclusivity is so they don't have any barriers when pitching the music.
Track your music with Tunesat. Tunesat is a free website that lets you track usage of your music on TV channels (mostly in the US and Europe). This is the most likely way that you will find out about your first placement. PRO's take many months to pay you for placements. With Tunesat, you can at least get an idea of how well your music is doing before getting paid, and usually you find out about the placement within hours! Whenever a library publishes your music, or informs you of a sale, put the music on Tunesat and you may find out what happens with it!
If you aren't a member of a PRO, join one immediately! PROs (Performing Rights Organizations) are the ones who pay backend royalties to songwriters and publishers. American PROs include ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. In order to get the royalties you deserve from broadcast, live performance, streaming, etc. you will need to be a member of a PRO. Ideally, you would do this before releasing any music of any kind. Check out my blog on Joining a PRO.
Listen to music in TV Shows and Commercials. Understanding current trends is a major part of being successful in the licensing world. Pop music changes all the time, and so does music for commercials. Listen to these kinds of music, dissect them, and use that knowledge to your advantage when writing music.
Write music that evolves and engages the listener. Production music should keep the interest of the listener. This can mean having multiple sections, melodies that change slightly, instruments entering every few bars, changes in volume, etc. Listen to music that is already in other music libraries to get an idea of popular formats and tendencies. Check out my blog on Music Licensing Song Structure.
I hope these tips helped you to gain some knowledge and inspire you to pursue this field! The key to success in this business is patience, don't give up after 6 months if you don't see success. Building a career in this business takes many years. 1 TV placement leads to 10, which leads to 100. Keep on writing and recording and success will follow!
Learn a LOT more about the music licensing business with my new book:
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