Insider Tips To Get Your Music Licensed by R. Michael Thomas
8. Have your team (manager, publicist, cousin who handles your mixtapes) be more professional than you, at minimum! There is nothing worse than dealing with a manager who knows nothing about the music business, music placement or a publicist who sends out misspelled and grammatically incorrect press releases, or a cousin who answers the phone “Yo!” and leaves me wondering whether or not I’ve called my own cousin who does nothing in the music business. Professionalism is key.
7. Be responsive! Music licensing and the film/TV world move very fast usually. Deadlines are hard. Turn around times often range anywhere from 2 to 24 hours to return back to the music supervisors at film studios, ad agencies, sound editors, and TV series.
For every artist that doesn’t respond quickly, there’s another two to three I can find immediately that will.
6. Keep your expectations realistic! If you are an indie artist with no major label backing, no other major film/TV placements, no real record sales of note (according to Soundscan, not “downloads”), please don’t expect to be getting thousands of dollars, depending on the music placement. Budgets are not as high as you think! Keep your expectations realistic, and don’t talk yourself out of some money because you think you’re the next Taylor Swift and your song is worth $40,000. It’s not.
5. Don’t email me individual mp3 tracks! Don’t do this. I immediately delete your music. Take advantage of the millions of options for streaming your music, whether it be via Box.com, Dropbox, Bandcamp, etc. It’s far easier for me to stream your music, catalog it and then download it if I want/need to, as opposed to you sending 10 individual emails with one 10mb mp3 attached to each email….work smarter, not harder folks.
4. Don’t send me your mixtapes. I tell you this from the bottom of my heart—most mixtapes are a waste of time, especially if they are mixtapes where you are writing/singing/rapping over someone else’s music that you don’t have the rights to. You may be a great singer, but if you’re singing your “lyrics” over Chris Brown’s “Fine China” instrumental, there is nothing I can do for you. Spend time and money recording and writing original music!
3. Know what you’re pitching for! Take the time to do due diligence and see what my current projects are. If I’m working on a movie that is a period piece based in the 1940’s, but you’re sending me daily emails of your EDM-based Pop songs that sound like the current Top 40, then they are going to the trash.
2. Build Relationships! Take the time to at least attempt to build your network. Referrals go a long way in this business. Go to some events. Get some business cards. Promptly follow up. Don’t pester, but make your presence known. Stay on the radar. Be polite. Be professional. That’ll get you further than any spam email ever will.
1. Content is King (and Quality is Queen!). Here are the keys the to kingdom: If your music is versatile, fits more than one type of genre and situation, has great lyrics, is all original and has no samples, has a great hook, builds, tells a story, is professionally mixed, mastered, and can go straight to screen from my email inbox, and you have instrumental versions, and clean/radio versions, lyrics including contact information embedded in the mp3 ‘comments’ field, has graphics available for an on-screen promo, you know all the writers and splits and the publishers that control them, have contact info for any labels that own your master(s), is registered with the performing rights societies (ASCAP, BMI or SESAC), you have a website that is clean, professional and easy to navigate, and you’re ready for radio or a record deal, then 9 out of 10, I will listen to your music, archive it, and refer back to it in the future if it doesn’t necessarily fit for a current opportunity.
And most importantly –