If you compose music, your goal is probably to get that music out there. In some cases, this means finding your way onto the radio and playing music in venues. This music is meant to touch people and make them feel something.
Sometimes, though, music is made to touch people in other ways. Instead of sending a message to a person directly, that music is made to set a tone. It is written to help make a scene just right to immerse an audience. It speaks to listeners and helps them to not only understand what is happening in a scene but to feel it as well.
In addition, your music being on TV and in movies is a great way to profit from your work. It also opens up new avenues for you as a musician to move onto bigger TV shows and movies in the future. But how do you break into these opportunities initially? We break it down for you below.
Make Your Music Universal
When you are writing music that you want to go to a movie or television show, you have to make sure your pieces are universal.
This is because you don’t always know what’s going to happen in a movie or television show. As an independent musician, you don’t have a copy of the script or full plot going in. So, you can’t write your songs for a specific situation. If your song is too niche, it might not work with the scenes in the movie and the production team won’t be able to use it.
Just like any other field of work, the connections you make are key. Knowing the right people is the best way to break into writing songs for movies and TV.
One way to do this is to create a connection with a “song plugger” – those who music supervisors go to for recommendations when they need music for a soundtrack. These are often licensing companies. It’s important to note, though, that working with a licensing company is not the same as with a music library – you likely won’t get the same recommendations or price and credit for your work as you would with a licensing company. In addition, it can be difficult to stand apart as an artist if people come to expect you as a “library artist.”
There is also the idea of reaching out directly to TV network providers. Since all movies and television shows work on a budget, it can help to go right ahead to those who control that budget and try to plug your music. This method can be tricky, though, and doesn’t always pan out.
Know What to Expect
When you’re trying to get a song into a movie or on TV, it’s important that you have a realistic outlook and are reasonable with your demands for use.
The main thing to know is that you shouldn’t expect airtime for your full song. This happens once in a while but it’s rather rare. More realistically, you should expect that if your song gets used, it will only be a snippet of the song. If your song has lyrics, you might not want to be too expectant that those lyrics will be played – a short instrumental segment is what many indie musicians see of their music when they are first breaking into TV and movies.
Know How to Pitch
When you are trying to get your music out there, you will have to construct a pitch or two. While cold calls don’t usually work and they aren’t the go-to method for most people, knowing how to pitch properly is important.
First of all, you want to show interest in them. Open with how much you like the idea for their movie or how long you’ve been interested in a show. However, be careful here. The last thing you want is to come off as an obsessive fan.
Then, you will want to pose to them what type of music you make and how it relates to the work they do. After all, while your real interest might be to get your music airtime and attention, the companies and executives usually don’t care as much about your career’s trajectory. What they do care about is their own project and if your contribution will help or hurt the vision they have in mind for their movie or show. If you want a spot on their project, you need to prove that you are there to improve their project.
Above all, though, you need to give them your music. Sometimes, it’s just best to link them to more than one piece of your music. If you give them options, they are more likely to find something in your library that they think fits the moment they are trying to find a soundtrack for in their production.
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