Updated: Dec 14, 2019
We recently attended a Music Supervisor panel event hosted by AIMP here in Nashville.
Music supervisors are the brave, dedicated music lovers who devote their time and talents to selecting music for various scenes in film, television and advertising spots.
Getting a song in a movie or on a television show can be a huge boost for a songwriter, artist or producer for a couple of reasons.
Synchronization usages, that is, when you synchronize your music with moving visual images, employ two of your music copyrights instead of only one.
When you hear a song in a movie, you not only hear the underlying composition, but also the recording of that composition.
If it were a recording of crickets chirping, you would only have a recording, and no composition copyright usage.
But when you hear a recording of a song, you’ve got two separate copyrights in play – the one for the composition itself (as represented by the © copyright symbol) and the copyright for the sound recording itself (as represented by a p with a circle around it.)
click the pic for more info about what is a sound recording copyright
In many cases, these two copyrights have equal worth for the music supervisor and his employer, the movie studio, production company or advertiser.
So if you get a song placed in a television spot, you’ll get paid a fee for your song copyright usage, and usually the same amount again for the recording.
Songpreneurs have known this for a while, and instead of making demos to pitch our songs, we always try to make master recordings that we can then pitch to film and television shows, release ourselves, and use for pitching the song.
It costs a little more to do this in some cases, but making master recordings gives you the ability to employ not only your song but also the recording itself. Just doing a demo is not enough, because a demo, by definition is a “demonstration recording.”
So what are the music supervisors looking for?
As with most everything in the music business, the answer is, “It depends.”
Some prefer CDs, some prefer links; some want polished sounding recordings, some want more raw emotion and rough edges.
So what are the common threads?
Your music has to have a high audio quality to get used in film, television or ads.
If you have never taken an audio engineering class, and haven’t made more than 500 recordings in your life, you’re probably not good enough in the home studio to crank out a usable track.
You can spend your time learning to push buttons, or you can focus on your songwriting mastery – and in rare cases, you can do both.
Another common thread appreciated by music supervisors is dealing with a person who not only has great quality material, but also has her licensing ducks in a row.
If you have a great song and recording, but no clue how to execute the licensing step, or how to contact your cowriters, you’re not going to have an advantage.
In fact, in some cases, not being able to get licensing paperwork completed in time will cost you a placement.
Do you need to have all unreleased material to attract music supervisor’s attention?
The answer is: Not at all. In fact, many times the music supervisors learn about the song from listening to music already available on the marketplace.
On the other hand, do you have to stream your music all over Spotify and YouTube to be noticed? Again, the answer is: Not at all.
One music supervisor at the panel event related a story about using an unknown songwriter’s independently released album that was only available as a physical CD prior to being used in the movie.
One supervisor stated that, “Shazam is my best friend.” Shazam is the technology tool that helps listeners identify what song they’re hearing, and in many cases, provides links to where the customer can then stream or purchase a download of the song.
This is a great tip for music artists and songwriters who are putting out their own artistless projects.
When you distribute your music online, be sure to distribute to Shazam as well.
That ensures that when your song is heard, whether it’s on the radio, streaming or in a television show, that the listener can easily track you down to get their ears on more of your great tunes.
Many of you who have been following us here at Songpreneurs HQ know that we previously acted as music supervisors for a television show called Gear Heads, which aired on MAVTV back in ’14, placing over 40 of our members songs in the 6 episodes of the show.
We’re getting some new offers to put our music into television shows, and are gearing up for more action – and not just for car shows this time.
Members, we’ll keep you posted on when it’s time to start submitting your songs to our Songpreneurs Community Library.
In the meantime, make sure you’re writing from the heart, writing for mastery, and writing every day to improve your songwriting, and that you have a firm understanding of the licensing process as described in our Getting Started workbook.
Not yet a member? You can apply to join us here.
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