3 Tips for Getting Your Music Licensed for Television
Have you ever wondered how music is chosen for television programs? The selection of music for television is the work of individuals known as music supervisors. And they actually have a pretty tough job because for music supervisors, it’s not about choosing music they personally like. The choice of music depends upon several factors, including the emotional tone of the show (or at least individual scenes in a TV show) as well as whether the selection is meant to be background, thematic or scene transition music.
It’s all about finding the perfect fit. If you’re a music composer or producer interested in synchronization licensing, we have 3 tips for getting your music licensed for television.
1. Watch Television
Here at ChromeOrange Music, we love television. That’s because the TV industry is a non-stop production machine. Unlike movies, television is episodic, and, season after season, every episode requires new music: background music, transition music, cues, etc. And, when you really listen closely as you watch television, you’re hard pressed to find dead silence. There is always some type of sound, even if it’s only a few seconds’ duration.
There is no possible way that a single composer would be able to produce all of the background music and cues that are needed for even one episode within those tight production schedules and deadlines, no less a whole season of episodes.
So, there is opportunity in television. As a result, there is always room for more composers.
But before you can begin approaching music supervisors, you need to spend a goodly amount of time watching television. Don’t just zero in on the TV shows you personally like because your synchronization opportunity may not be there. Your opportunity may be a television program you’ve either never watched before or whose existence you aren’t even aware of.
There is a multitude of programming on television, and all of it needs music.
Make note of the various genres of music you hear in each TV show and ask yourself the following questions:
What kind of instruments were used to create the tone and mood of the music?
What kind of drums do you hear most often?
What’s the average tempo of the music?
Are the musical selections in mostly major keys or minor keys? Or, a combination of the two? What types of chords are being used?
Are there synths and/or other electronic elements or is the arrangement mostly acoustic instruments?
If your catalog doesn’t include those genres, styles, arrangements and production techniques, start composing and producing new music that you can successfully pitch. Remember, it's all about creating the perfect fit.
2. Learn the TV Chain of Command
Actors and directors do not choose the music for their television shows. Music supervisors do. And sometimes there is a music editor who makes the final selection from among the music the supervisor has chosen. And after that, the producer of the show must be in agreement regarding the musical selections. This means that before you attempt to pitch your music to any TV show, you need to find out what the chain of command is and follow it.
3. Learn the Language of the Synchronization License
Before you sign on the dotted line, be sure you understand the parameters of the synchronization licensing deal you’re getting into. First, since you’re the licensor, the license should come from you, not from the licensee. That’s because you’re the rights holder. They’re the customer. When you buy a car, the paperwork you sign is generated by the car dealership, not by you or your attorney. In real estate sales, the contract is generated by the seller, not by the buyer. Similarly, all synchronization licenses should be generated by you, the composer/producer, not by the licensee.
And that brings us to an important next point: If you don’t already have an attorney, you need to seek out one who is well-versed in the music industry, particularly synchronization licensing. Although there are many in this industry who would leave you to believe that you can handle the business yourself, it is an unwise decision if you’re not an expert in this field.
You might also want to consider engaging with a publishing company that specializes in catalog administration. One of the more notable ones is Kobalt Music, which is now owned by Sony.
But there are many others—lesser-known companies that generate a lot of income for the songs and catalogs they represent. And, their licensing divisions have established relationships with music supervisors and music editors.
Put your toe in the water first with a song or two before you sign on for administration of your whole catalog. See how the relationship develops. If the administrating publisher gets good placements for your music and generates streams of income for you (and, by the way, there are potentially multiple streams of income from a single sync license deal—the subject of an upcoming blog post here on The Music Licensing Blog).
ChromeOrange Music is a New York-based record label and music publishing company with a catalog of original music for film, television, video games, internet and broadcast advertising, print and other music licensing applications. Our music has been licensed in over two dozen countries and on television networks like National Geographic, CNN and Telemundo. Please visit our Music Catalog page to access clips of music that span a wide range of genres and moods.
For more information about music licensing, call us at (631) 648-7446 or use the form on our Contact page to send us a message.