By Mark Frieser
With the start of the new year, we look to new beginnings, new challenges and new opportunities.
Since ancient Babylon 4,000 years ago, people the world over have used the start of the year as an opportunity take steps to change lives for the better.
I believe this is the perfect time for everyone involved in licensing and composing music for media, ads and brands to resolve to employ the tactics needed to be successful in getting music placed. And I’d like to help.
That’s why I’m starting the year by presenting you with some practical tips you should resolve to employ to be more successful in getting your music place – and getting yourself hired – for media, ad and brand projects.
1. Get your metadata right. What’s metadata you say? For some of you, that’s a funny question to ask, but there are no bad questions.
For our purposes, metadata is the information you need to provide with any track you send out to someone. This is crucial so that the person getting your music will know what the name of the song is, who owns it, who the contact is to license the music, and other information like genre, BPM, artist, musicians, owners and contact info.
You need to make sure you get all of this right.
2. Store your music correctly and present it in the right way and the right format. In 2018 there’s no reason ever to clog up someone’s inbox with a MP3 file or trying to send a WAV attachment. No one wants that.
What you should do is store your music on a cloud-based service (many music supervisors prefer box.com – through dropbox.com is acceptable too) so that people can easily stream it and then download – and make the link to a stream and downloadable MP3 link (make the MP3 at least 192 kbps). Simply put, links are your friend.
Also, make sure the metadata is included in the links and give the person you send a link that gives them the option on your account to check out other music you have as well so they can dig deeper if they wish.
3. Do your research on the people you’re sending music to and their projects. This is super important, especially if you are looking to contact someone for the first time.
Do internet searches on the music supervisors you want to contact before you contact them, go on imdb.com and look for their profiles there. Look at their projects, look at the type of music they use.
This will give you a great idea of what they use, and what projects you may be able to pitch music to – pitching the right music in a targeted way rather than just sending out music to every person is a great way to make your efforts as effective and efficient as possible.
4. Respond to briefs and emails in a timely matter – and have an easy way for people to contact you, and in general be responsible and prompt. This sounds crazy to even mention – it seems like basic common sense, but I cannot tell you how many people actually don’t respond in a timely manner or even answer briefs and emails sent by music supervisors.
When you get an email – a brief, a reply – whatever, just answer as soon as possible. Be brief, be accurate and be to the point, but most of all be responsive.
5. Don’t send out music that doesn’t fit a project when you’re asked for something specific. This is a really big pet peeve – too many people forget, their job is not to send out their priorities to a music supervisor and hope the music supervisor like what they hear, it’s to try to understand what the music supervisor wants, and then respond correctly.
When you get a request – respond to what is asked for – don’t send out reggae to someone looking for jazz. If you have any doubt as to what a potential buyer wants, just send them a brief email asking for clarification – remember your job is to help them solve a problem by providing the right music.
They’ll be time enough for sending out other music – and you’ll be sending out to a much more receptive person – if you focus on helping the music supervisor solve a problem first.
6. If you do send out music that doesn’t fit a project, here’s how you should do it. So many music supervisors will tell you not to send out unsolicited music, and that’s because many don’t have the time to go through everyone’s music – we are talking about people that get over 1000 emails a day in some cases.
That said, many music supervisors and companies will accept unsolicited emails, but just remember, even if they do accept your emails, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it.
The right way is to keep things short and to the point. Briefly introduce yourself (with a link to your website), then explain your music – and if you did your research – as you should – tell them why you’re presenting the music you are presenting (for example, “I know you used “Song X” in “Show X” and my music/song (name song or songs) has a similar sound.
The present the song – including the name of the song, with a link (not an attachment).
That’s it. It should be no more than 3-4 lines total.
7. Don’t spam, don’t send a long email. I cannot stress this enough. Keep your emails simple to and to the point (see rule 6), and please, don’t keep sending out email after email asking for feedback. If they want to work with your music, they’ll email you.
It is okay to send out a brief follow up email asking for feedback a couple weeks after sending out music, but just know, in general, if a music supervisor wants to work with you, they’ll be in touch.
8. Confirm you own or can represent ownership of the music before sending it out. This is SO important.
Make sure you have documentation you can present that shows you are either the creator or have the rights from all the owners to present the music for licensing.
This means if you have a co-writer or someone that works with the artist (like a manager publisher, etc.), you have documentation saying you’ve been assigned their permission to represent the writer/co-writers as well as the owner of the sound recording/master in a negotiation for a deal. If you own it 100%, make sure you have some type of documentation to show you are the owner.
If you can’t provide you own it, don’t present it. It’s that simple. And make double and triple sure that if there are samples in the music, you’ve cleared the rights to those samples for usage in your recording and for and you’ve obtained the rights to represent the usage of these samples for sync licensing.
9. Do a technical quality check. The music you present needs to be professional grade. It needs to be properly produced, engineered and mastered. It needs to be available in a high-quality WAV file for usage by the music supervisor in a project.
You can send a MP3 for your initial link for listening and temping purposes but The best format (in my estimation) is at a minimum an uncompressed WAV file at 44,100 Hz with a 16 bitrate (basic CD Audio quality). Make sure you have this quality available for download if asked for a WAV file.
10. Seek professional help. This is perhaps the most important point. If you can, find a sync agent, a publisher, a manager, a label that works every day with music supervisors and projects so you can focus on your music.
These are the people that want to work with you and your music, and they have the expertise, the contacts and the confidence of music supervisors to get the job done and represent your music.
Do an Internet search for sync agents and you’ll find options of people you can submit to – That’s a good start.
You can also click here for an article from our blog that gets into more details on why sync agents are important.
If you resolve to follow the advice in this letter, while I cannot guarantee you’ll get a sync or a commission to compose music for a project, I can say you’ll put yourself head and shoulders above the competition.