In the backdrop of falling and streaming music sales, music artists now look towards music licensing as a way to have a stable source of earning. Changing trends have significantly changed the landscape of music industry and synchronisation is no longer perceived as selling out. This has led to the emergence of a trend of producing music for ads. Many artists today prefer to associate themselves with a renowned brand and produce music for commercials. This works to their benefit in more ways than one. Doing so, artists are able to earn credibility, raise their profiles and enjoy a break from routine work. While new artists don’t always earn large fees out of synchronising, once they are able to raise their profiles through chart placement and sales, they earn significantly more.
There are numerous examples of music artists, such as Florence and the Machine, kick-starting their careers by licensing their music for commercials and film. Record companies in particular now view sync as a part of an overall career-building strategy for an artist. 20 years back, synchronisation departments in record companies were buried away in the basement beside a stationery cupboard- or at least this is what I have been told. However, today sync departments at record companies enjoy a more significant position. These have the same level of influence as A&R departments in making decisions about signing an artist.
Though the change is good news for music artists, the competition is strife. So, how do you exactly get your music selected for commercials, tv or films? Firstly, spend some time listening to music used in the media and try to identify where your particular style of music is being used the most, whether it’s in: indie films, blockbuster movies, trailers, commercials, TV shows, etc. For example, if you create Funk Metal then it would be better to not to send it to a music supervisor who specialises in finding music for teen TV shows. Research online and find out which music supervisor provides music that you produce and approach them. A music supervisor will be able to identify whether your music has ‘sync potential’ or not.
When contacting a music supervisor, I would suggest never to email an mp3 file of your music to anybody without seeking their permission first. Not doing so is likely to clog the recipients’ inboxes and could make them rather grumpy before they’ve even listened to your music. A better option is to use sites like Dropbox, YouSendIt and Box. It’s always advisable have instrumental versions of all your vocal songs ready too, as a client, edit suite or agency is likely to ask for an instrumental version of your music for editing purposes.
Musicians often ask, “I have a fantastic song which I think would be perfect for a car ad, can I go directly to the car company rather a middle man?” The answer is simply no. The last thing a brand wants, is to be inundated by individuals sending them mp3s. It is not the brand that selects the music for commercial, but the task is assigned to an advertising agency. They will create a concept for the ad and usually write the music brief. The advertising agency will then work with a music company to draw upon their experience help in filtering suitable music tracks for their very specific briefs.
There are various factors that a music supervisor takes under consideration when selecting a music track, such as: does the song has the right lyrical message? Is the vocalist the right gender for the brand? Does the track have the right emotion and tone? Does it build at the end? Is the tempo right? Does the band/artist have a large following? These are just some of the criteria a music track needs to adhere to, before it’s presented to the client. So as you can see, a combination of factors then plays a key role in the final track selection.
So if one of your music tracks is pitched but does not get selected, don’t be disappointed. There are numerous emerging and renowned artists out there who have never had their tracks selected for sync. All the major record labels and publishers have dedicated teams of people pitching their artist’s music to the music supervisors, and they don’t necessarily have any better chance of their tracks being selected than you!