Are you doing everything you can to successfully licence your music for TV and movies? Are you achieving the kind of success you’ve always dreamed of or are you still struggling to get your music heard by the right people and eventually sold to the right people? Today let’s take a look at three things you can focus on that together will exponentially increase your chances of achieving the kind of success you seek.
1) Create and perform better music.
It all starts with the music. So, before you worry about anything else, make sure your music meets the kind of standards required to be successfully licenced in the first place. What kind of standards does your music have to meet? If you’ve been following me for a long time, you know that I’ve written extensively on this topic. But the short answer is that you have to write great, well-produced songs. “Great songs” are somewhat subjective, but “well produced” is much more objective. Compare your songs with other licenced songs. How are your songs? Have a few different people listen. Music publishers and accompanists listen to a lot of music every day. They can very quickly distinguish between good and mediocre productions.
2) Distribute your music to a variety of outlets.
Success in the music business is a numbers game. The more places and people you submit your music to, the more likely you are to connect with someone who really appreciates your music and is eager to help you promote it. We’ve all heard stories of famous musicians getting repeatedly rejected before getting their “big break.” Rejection happens a lot in the music licencing industry, and a lot of it has nothing to do with the music. Sometimes your music just doesn’t suit the person you’re submitting it to. The needs of those you pitch to are constantly changing, so don’t get discouraged if you get rejected simply because your music isn’t a good fit for you. On the other hand, if you’re getting feedback on things you need to do to improve your music, take it for what it’s worth. Try not to take constructive criticism too personally. In my experience, people in this business are often not gentle with their criticism. They’re usually not as bad as Simon Cowell, but it’s hard to criticize. If something has to be worked on, it has to be worked on. If you’re repeatedly getting the same kind of advice, it’s probably worth investigating.
3) Projects for Research
To further increase your chances of success, take the extra step of researching projects that require music so that you can more accurately present your music to the right people at the right time. Call supervisors and publishers and ask them what they are currently working on. Some will tell you, and some won’t. Forget those who won’t and focus on those who will. Show that you are sensitive to the needs of those you work with and that you are not just out to pursue your own career. Sometimes, as musicians, we can be very focused on our own goals and have a tendency to become overly self-absorbed. The music business, like any business, is a vast network of people, each with their own individual needs, desires, and frustrations.
Aaron Davison is a Berklee College of Music alumnus who has worked in the music business for over a decade. His songs have been featured on several TV shows, and he has performed live all over the world.