For the sake of this article, we’re going to assume you’re an artist or band who produces songs and not a composer or producer who produces music cues or interstitial music.
While there is no secret recipe to getting your music into a film, TV show, or commercial, and though it may seem like a no-brainer, one of the key ingredients is simply having the right song. Whether that’s the right lyric, the right mood, or the right energy, that song works for that particular scene in a Film or TV show.
But even if you have the right song, plain and simple, getting it into a film or TV show begins with a music supervisor. Although music and film have been tied together since the dawn of time, music supervisors really became the new rockstars of the music industry and stepped to the front of stage thanks to the work of Alexandra Patsavas and her company Chop Shop Music who have placed music in dozens of Film & TV shows such as The O.C., Gossip Girl, Mad Men, and, perhaps most famously, The Hunger Games and The Twilight saga. The artist careers which have been catapulted from these placements cannot be overstated.
OK, so how do you get your music to a music supervisor?
Having a publishing deal can definitely help. Music publishers have relationships with music supervisors, music supervisors know the publisher and their catalog, and your publisher can also pitch your songs directly to supervisors. Additionally, music supervisors often use their network of music publishers and record labels for specific tracks they’re looking for, sending out a search to which publishers and labels then present selections for consideration.
However, having a music publisher isn’t essential to getting your music heard by a music supervisor. You can most certainly build your own network and develop your own relationships with music supervisors. It’s absolutely crucial, however, that you approach supervisors in the right manner and with music that’s relevant to the projects they are working on. Another option is submitting your songs to one of the many pitching services that exist online. These companies represent independent artists and either actively pitch music to music supervisors, receive search calls from music supervisors, or have a database that music supervisors may use to search for specific moods or genes when searching for songs. We at Xelon Entertainment also offer a service to artists to pitch their releases for Film & TV placement. To learn more shoot us an e-mail.
In any event, the more specific you can be about your music and where it belongs the greater your chances of getting your music placed. If you know your niche, you’re in a better position to pitch your music for specific projects. Who do you sound like? Who are you often compared to? How do you describe your music? What genre is it?
Music supervisors often look for songs that are similar to other artists or have a similar feel or mood to specific other songs or artists and they often use other famous songs as references when conducting their searches. So, if a supervisor is looking for something in the vein of Armin van Buuren or DJ Snake and your music shares similarities, then it could be a perfect match. So, the more specific you are with where your music belongs, the more likely placeable your music will be.
As music supervisor Tony Scudellari recently said in an interview for the MIDEM blog "Pitches should be specific. Don’t throw anything against the wall”. He continued “It’s a waste of a supervisor’s time (and, yours) to pitch music that is inappropriate. For example, if I’m working on a project that uses hip-hop as its musical foundation, don’t pitch me a folk song for the project. It’s common sense, but you have no idea how many people lack that common sense.”
Next time you’re watching a TV show or Film watch the end credits to see who the music supervisor is. IMDB is also a great resource. Although all music supervisors work with a wide range of music from hip hop to metal, folk to Bollywood, perhaps there is a specific music supervisor that works with your type of music or works on specific films such as indie-film or documentaries that place your style of music. Familiarize yourself with what projects music supervisors are working on and start targeting those music supervisors who work on projects that feature your type of music.
Want more tips? Check out the post from July 2015 where ASCAP interviewed several key music supervisors asking them to give one piece of advice about how to get your music into their world of film, TV, advertising, trailers and video games.
Have you had your music placed in a film, TV show or commercial? Share your tips with our community.