(The Secrets of Sync Success is a new, ongoing series of articles designed to help you achieve your goals in the business of music licensing and composition. Today’s article gets into how you should present your music to music supervisors, ad agencies and brands.)
BY MARK FRIESER
“To succeed in business you need to be original, but you also need to understand what your customers want.” — Richard Branson
In business, it’s the people that think creatively and take the initiative, then keep at it, that succeed.
It’s a fact.
Look at any field and you will see the people that are successful are those that not only have talent but combine it with creative thinking, discipline and the taking the initiative rather than waiting for people to come to them.
So too is success in the world of music licensing and composition.
When you combine talent with smart thinking and actions, you will put yourself at the top of the list of “go-to” people in the minds of decision-makers at ad firms, film studios, TV networks, video game makers, app makers, brands and music supervisors.
In this new series of articles, “The Secrets of Sync Success”, I am going to present you with ideas and some practical steps you can employ that will help you to be more effective in your quest to get songs used in a project or commissioned to compose a score.
So let’s begin. Let’s talk about how you present your music.
Start by putting yourself in the mindset of the person you are trying to get to listen to or use your music or the music you represent.
What are their concerns?
What are their needs?
What keeps them up at night?
Like everyone else, they want to be successful in their work. They want to find the best music for a project, to do so in a way that exceeds the expectations of those they work with, and ultimately to meet the objectives of the project they are working on – whether it’s to tell a story to sell a product.
By keeping in mind the goals of the people you’re looking to work with, you’ll automatically start to incorporate their goals into your presentation of your own work.
So how do you present your music to someone in a way that helps them succeed?
Here are five things you should do before you contact any supervisor or submit your music for a project:
- Do your Research. I believe there is no greater tool for anyone looking to connect their music to a particular project or decision maker than good research into what projects they are working on and the work they’ve done before.
Even if you don’t receive briefs or requests from a single music supervisor or company, you can do the following:
- Do a general search online based on the name of a project head, their company and their past and current projects. Take notes and follow links to their projects and take note of what they do and have done.
- Go to YouTube and search for their work, then watch it. There is no greater tool to get an idea of a music supervisor, brand or agency does than to watch and listen to their previous work.
- Go on imdb.com and research their projects if they work in TV/Film/Video Games.
- For ads, do an online search for a brand+ it’s “agency of record” to learn what agency works on what brand’s ad campaigns.
From there, research who are the heads of music at a particular ad firm or brand. You may not always find the exact person, but at the least, you’ll know who represents what brand and that will give you an idea of who you need to talk to and how they use music.
And now you have done your research, you know who does what, and you know how they do it – and from there, you’ll be able to more intelligently assess whether, and what kind of music, you should present to each particular person you’ll looking to engage.
- Make it easy for them to listen to your music. When you present music for a project, make your presentation as simple as possible.
Don’t overthink your presentation or make the mistake of requiring the person you are contacting to take unnecessary extra steps to hear what you are presenting. Do the following and you’ll be head and shoulders above most of the competition:
- Store your music on box.com or dropbox.com. This makes it very simple for people to stream, organize and download.
- Keep your emails very brief. No more than three short paragraphs.
Briefly introduce yourself and the specific reason you’re getting in contact.
If it’s not in response to a brief, then reference your inspiration or the project that inspired you to send your music.
Make the second paragraph a link to your music – NO ATTACHMENTS – and make sure that link gives the option to stream and download.
The third paragraph should be a thank you, then an offer to provide more information and links if desired.
That’s it. Be brief and to the point.
- Don’t send unsolicited video demos. You may think it’s a good idea to take the initiative and swap out the music from one of the videos from the person you’re sending an email to, then replace it with your own to give them an idea of how great your music works with their brand/show/films.
Don’t do it.
Music supervisors are artists as well as managers, and from an emotional point of view, like any artist, anyone messing with their creation, especially without permission, is going to be looked at negatively.
Typically, to put a piece of music into a project, a music supervisor’s had to listen to a lot of music, present temp videos of their own many times with the music they think works best and work hard to get creative buy-in to get a piece of music into a project. Think about that.
Instead, just send links to music you think could work in their current projects as you know them, or projects that you’ve researched. If they want demos, they’ll surely contact you and ask for them.
- Don’t send music “just because”. Focus on IF your music would work for a project. Really think that through. Let’s say you make amazing Southern Rock. While your music may be great, you’re probably better off submitting it to a show like “Nashville” than “Empire”.
It’s just common sense. Employ common sense before you submit.
- Make sure your metadata is solid and your rights are secure. I can never say this too many times.
Before you send anything out, make sure you have properly provided basic information on the music you send out, and make sure that if you have co-writers, producers or collaborators, or if you are a rep, check and re-check you have all the rights assigned to you for everything (including samples if they are part of a song) you represent.
- At a minimum, you need to provide with every track its name, authors, artist name, publisher, rights society, label, genre and a contact (email and phone). It sounds simple but so many people have had a deal stop in its tracks simply because they didn’t include the name of a track or contact info.
- Rights Assignment. If you own it all, great. If you do not, you need to get permissions from every single person who had any ownership percentage of a sound recording or song. Think to yourself who was involved in a song, what elements (like samples) and then get a rights assignment document signed by whoever you need to that allows you to represent their share of the song for the purposes of licensing. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need more details on this.
- Be responsive and prompt. It sounds incredibly simple, but many do not do it – when someone gets in touch with a potential opportunity or follows up to a submission, you need to be decisive and take action.
– Try to answer emails within one hour during your business hours. And answer them as promptly as you can when you’re off the clock.
– If there’s more work required, modifications, make an effort to get it done as soon as possible.
So many times, people don’t answer potential customers in a timely manner, and as a result, lose the opportunity to win a project. Don’t be that person. The person who is responsive and prompt is the person that rises above the pack.
- Be politely persistent. Your target customer is a person who gets 500-1000 emails a day, many of them asking for the same thing you are – a chance to work with them on a project.
Most of these emails are written sloppily, or if they aren’t written that way, they are sloppy in their attitude. Either too long, too focused on the writer of the letter or without the project or the person they’re writing to in mind.
Also, far too many people push too much on their follow up, sending multiple emails a week.
This just clogs their email box with extraneous information and gets you deleted.
So be short, to the point and patient – perhaps a follow-up email in two weeks if you’ve heard nothing from them. And leave it at that.
By employing these five points before you present yourself and your music, you’ll poise yourself for success by putting yourself in the mindset of your customer.
And, by putting yourself in the mindset of your customer, you’re putting yourself ahead of those that only think of themselves.
I’m sure you’ll see an improvement in your success in getting your music listened to and a better response rate to your submissions.
Try employing the five points I’ve listed above for a month and let me know how you make out.