At our conferences, in emails and a lot of casual conversations with people who make, own and rep music, I’m often asked what the best practices are to prepare and submit music for visual media projects in TV, Film, Video Games and Advertising.

Getting music to a film editor, music supervisor or producer may seem daunting (and I know, if you don’t have a network or experience in the industry, it really is), but if you follow a few basic rules, you can exponentially increase the chances you’ll get heard and quite possibly get placed.  I’d like to call these our “Top Tips” for Placement.

They are:

1.     Get your paper right. This can’t be stressed enough. If you are submitting music, make sure you have all the paperwork you need to make the buyer feel secure about their purchase (More on why this is important here).   That means that if you worked with a co-writer, producer, if you sampled something, had someone come in and do a banjo solo – whatever – have paperwork that says it is okay to use the musician/writer/producer’s work.

If you don’t, it can come back to bite you through lost work and severed connections to buyers.    Just make sure you have paperwork whenever you collaborate with anyone for any reason. Even if they’re your friend.   Even if they’re your significant other.   Even if they’re your cousin. Just get your paper right.

2.  Do your research.   I cannot even number the times I’ve been told about the person who’s submitted a blind email of a country track for a project/supervisor that called for hard rock.   And vice versa.   This can be easily avoided through simple research.  If you want to submit your music – know what genre you’re working in, then research shows you like/music supervisors you respect and see what they typically license for their shows/projects.   Then, and only then, submit (more on how to best submit below) your music based whether or not your music could be a good fit for a supervisor/project.  This will go a long way in terms of building a good rapport with a buyer, and result in better chances of your music being picked up for a project.

3.  Finesse your audience. This is super basic, but just as you should research the types of music a supervisor or other person looking for music uses, research how the person you’re targeting typically finds and buys music.  Some music supervisors will try to listen to every track they are sent (a daunting task when they get 500-100 emails a day) while others will just delete your email every time.

The Internet can be your friend in this instance – set up some simple Soundcloud links, and research how people like to get their music submissions (hint: links and brief targeted emails are best). And for the people that don’t take submissions, don’t give up – research who they get their music from, and then try to connect to those people and companies. Which leads me to the next point…

4.  Get some (industry) friends. A lot of your “audience,” in fact most of it, won’t give you the proverbial time of day.  Send a submission and it will get deleted.  So what do you do, give up?   No.   Remember, even though you are trying to get to people who are busy, they still need and love music, they just lack the time to listen to everything and prefer to go people they trust to curate/filter music for them so they can get it to them quickly, securely and correctly.

These are the “go-to” people you want to sync up with (pardon the pun).  And there’s a lot of them out there – take a look at what they do, what kind of music they work with, what kinds of deals they give, and if you like what you see, then work with them.

Here’s a few links to get you started:

And there’s many more -and if you belong to a label or a publisher, they can help too.   Just be sure to find a company and a resource that works for you. By working with a company that people know and trust, you’ll get valuable entree and a shortcut (so long as your music is fits a project) to the people that sign the checks.

5. Be Flexible and Timely. People in this business are really busy and if you can help them by making their jobs easier, you win. That means being on time and on point with music – turning it around in the required timeframe, being flexible in terms of budget and being willing to go the extra mile by having instrumental and custom versions of music at the ready. Be flexible, be on time and on budget, help music supervisors to do their job and it’ll pay off, I promise you.

6.  Metadata, metadata, metadata, metadata!

Just replace “Developers” with “Metadata” and scream it to yourself like you’re Steve Ballmer, ok?  It cannot be overemphasized – too many people don’t put the most basic information on their music.  If no one knows the names of tracks, your name, or your contact info, are they really going to use your music?

No.  So just make sure that every track you submit has at least the following information:

  1. Name(s) of artist(s)
  2. Names(s) of composers
  3. Name(s) of performers
  4. Song Title
  5. Album title (if any)
  6. Label
  7. Publisher
  8. Year Released
  9. Track Number
  10. Genre
  11. Producer
  12. Contact (yours/management)
  13. Performing Rights Society Affiliation (ASCAP, BMI, etc.)
  14. Mood
  15. BPM

Assigning the above to each and every song will go a long way towards making the job of a music supervisor easier – and that’s what you want to do if you want to get placed. Mark