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Get Your Music in TV & Film: Where to Start

Updated: Jun 23, 2022


Getting your music placed in a movie or TV show can open you up to new revenue streams and hundreds (sometimes millions) of potential fans. To reap a reward this big, you have to put in the work, and the sync/music supervision area of the music industry is a complicated landscape to navigate.


Synchronization Licenses


In order for a TV show or movie to use any song, they have to obtain a synchronization license for the track. This license comes from the owner of the copyright, usually the publisher or songwriter(s) (if you don’t have your own publishing company or are signed to a publisher).


According to Don Passman, “A synchronization license is a license to use music in “timed synchronization” with visual images…Including TV shows, commercials, video games etc.”

The process of obtaining synchronization licenses for music is called “clearing”. Most supervisors and sync agents require a song to be “one-stop”, meaning the performer is also the songwriter and publisher; This alleviates the headache of going to multiple songwriters and publishers to get approval for the track. As an independent artist, there are various people you can pitch your music to in hopes of it getting chosen and cleared for sync placements:

  • Music Supervisors

  • Sync Agents

  • Licensing Companies

  • Music Publishers

Even though all of these people can get your music into a TV show, most don’t accept unsolicited material. However, I’ve compiled a list of licensing companies and music publishers that do!


Start Getting Sync Placements Today



Crucial Music is a music licensing company free for independent artists to submit music for placements. There are a few caveats with Crucial Music, akin to most licensing companies, that require 100% ownership of the master and publishing copyrights, registration with a PRO and only submissions of original music.


This means that if you are signed with a label, publisher or have any exclusive administration or representation deals with a publisher (Tunecore) or tv/film representation, you are unable to submit your music.


You are allowed to submit 3 songs at a time, and they suggest you will hear back within 12 weeks of submission. Once a track is either approved or denied, you will be able to submit another one.



Songtradr is a music distribution and licensing platform that offers both free and paid tiers. When you signup using the free version, you keep 60% of your sync licensing fees and 100% of your performance royalties.


Once you signup, you are taken to a dashboard that has detailed sync opportunities posted daily. To submit to these, you must first upload your tracks to the dashboard; Make sure to include as much metadata as possible!


For each opportunity, you are allowed to submit 2 tracks (or 5 with the lite tier). With Songtradr, it is most beneficial to check the dashboard opportunities at least once a week, as they often change and add new ones!


3. Music Publishing Companies


Music Publishing Companies are an option that takes more money upfront, but can also promise more opportunities. Some publishing companies don’t accept submissions from artists, but with these it’s best to play the long game; Networking without submitting your music can allow you to get on the radar of the publisher, possibly contacting you in the future when they have a project that would fit your music.


However, there are also publishing companies that accept unsolicited submissions to be added to their roster. These companies can sometimes take a while to answer all the submissions they receive and have specifications for the type of music they accept. Make sure to do your research before submitting music so you know the best chance of being accepted. I have compiled a shortlist of companies that are currently accepting submissions below:



Heads Up


1. Accurate Metadata


Before submitting your music anywhere, you need to ensure the track file contains accurate metadata. You can open up the metadata of a file by opening and editing the properties of your file. This will allow you to see what metadata is already there and what you need to add. Most places require at least the Song Title, Performer, Album Title, Publisher, Track Length, and Genre.


2. Organization


There are a lot of different pieces to consider when submitting a song for sync. For example, you must be prepared to submit both the original and instrumental versions of your tracks. It is also important to keep the stems of each track so that you can submit those if necessary.


You also want to have your split sheets, lyrics, and various file formats of the track ready to submit. All of this requires prepared organization, making it easier for you to find and send everything necessary to land your song in a movie or tv show.


2. Longevity & Exclusivity of Term (if applicable)


When entering into deals with libraries or production companies, make sure to read the fine print of the agreement. Some companies require you to enter into an exclusive agreement, meaning that you cannot pitch that track to other companies.


This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; Sometimes companies only bring on music that they truly believe they can get placed somewhere, and they make it their job to shop around and get that music placed. If this is the case, and the company offers services to pitch your music for you, it might be beneficial to agree to the exclusivity. On the other hand, if a music library requires exclusivity but they don’t offer pitching services, it would be beneficial to consider all your options.

3. Research! Research! Research!

Tunefind is a great research tool to investigate music supervisors, shows, and films. It is a database of music placed in pictures and allows you to see the music supervisor for each project.


When you are gathering your list of places to pitch, make sure to find shows that use similar music to yours; You can then find the show on Tunefind and the music supervisor that placed it. This research will ensure that you are not wasting your time by pitching to supervisors that don’t use music similar to yours.


Get Started in the World of Synch Today!


Even if you follow this guide to a T, it can take time to get yourself placed and established in the sync world. It requires dedication and time, but can immensely pay off in the long run; When your music becomes the background of a feature film or when you are signed as a film composer for a major network.


If you still have questions or are looking for some help getting started, feel free to contact me today! We can set up a free consultation to discuss your goals and how I can help you!










4 Comments


Guest
Jun 08, 2022

Thank you for this!!

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GARB MGMT
GARB MGMT
Jun 23, 2022
Replying to

No problem, feel free to reach out with any questions!

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