SoStereo's Industry Tips: 5 Things To Know Before Trying To Get Your Music Licensed - Magnetic Magazine
Are you an artist, label or publisher looking to get your music licensed for use in commercials, branded content, television and films? Start here.
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Magnetic has partnered up with Miami-based SoStereo, a cutting-edge music marketing company that is changing the way brands work with artists, labels, and publishers. SoStereo's Industry Tips will be an ongoing editorial series where we provide practical industry advice for music industry professionals. We will cover a range of topics: from social media strategy; to getting your music heard; to creating a stronger brand. If it's related to the business of music, we will cover it! 

For this edition, the SoStereo team will break down some simple things you need to know when you are starting to think about taking your music out to get licensed for commercials, television, film, or other branded content.

Even with streaming recently reaching new heights for both streams and revenues, the working producers/musicians need every opportunity they can get to generate sales from recorded music and reach new fans. With the explosion of branded and narrative content across the web and cable networks, there is more opportunity than ever to get your music licensed and heard by a larger audience of potential new fans. Licensing your songs is becoming a powerful launching pad--to either start or grow a career in music. 

In addition to the income generated from these types of placements, there is also the opportunity to grow your fanbase extremely rapidly via exposure to a lot of potential new fans. 

The industry tale that best illustrates this is that of electronic music pioneer and rave culture superstar, Moby. After a rough patch in his career due to the ill-fated release of his punk rock album Animal Rights, he returned to his electronic roots with Play in 1999 hoping to win back his fans. The media largely ignored the album, and it looked like Moby was headed into a tailspin once again despite making a fantastic record. 

Moby (photo via Wikimedia)

Moby - the man who started it all!

Then Moby had an epiphany, and he began licensing all the songs on Play to television, films, and commercials. This previously thought of as selling out and widely frowned upon, especially in niche culture like punk rock and electronic music. Despite this Play went on to become one of the most licensed albums of all time, doing millions in sales and completely turning around a career that was headed for the abyss. 

We now know the power of licensing, and how it is an essential tactic in any music career strategy. Brands are especially hot for electronic music, indie, and hip-hop, as millennials become the most in-demand target audience on the planet. From Diplo's "Express Yourself" for Doritos to Daft Punk's "Digital Love" for GAP, licensing is an integral part of most of today's success stories. 

Here are five things to know before starting to break into the television, commercial and film market. 

Old Television

Start with placing music in the background of scenes.

Most music played in a television show or webisode will be on during the background of a scene and songs can be submitted in the form of songwriting demos to be recorded by the cast or other artists, or submitted as a finished work to be played. Background music also allows for the widest variety of genres and styles to be placed, and is a good way to begin to get established with the film and TV industry. This type of work might not be the most glamorous, but it's an excellent way to build your reputation as a professional musician and get ahead of the pack. 

You don’t need a full-length song to get placed.

A significant component of any show is the snippet of music played for just a few seconds in the car, or playing in a restaurant, or in the background of a quick encounter. It can even include a band performing live on stage (even better if it can be your band!). It is also easier to get 12 to 15 seconds of music placed than a whole song, and more realistically accessible for songwriters than submitting songs to big artists or publishing houses. These small segments of music are often referred to as ‘source music.' 

The recordings you submit will likely be the ones that make the finished cut.

The job of choosing what songs go where belongs to the music supervisor that's assigned to the project. They work with the director to help decide what songs can augment and enhance the emotion of scenes, and also pick all the source music that add realism to a scene. Music supervisors also need to find large amounts of music and review the songs to see what can be licensed within the budget. After narrowing down submissions to several options for each scene, the music supervisor presents the director with all the recommended music. 

Who decides what will be played on the show, commercial or film?

The job of choosing what songs go where belongs to the music supervisor that's assigned to the project. He or she works with the director to help decide what songs can augment and enhance the emotion of scenes, and also pick all the source music that adds realism to a scene. A music supervisor also needs to filter through a vast amount of music to determine what works creatively and can be licensed within the budget. After narrowing down submissions to several options for each scene, the music supervisor presents the director with all the recommended music. 

Film Reel

How to secure film placements?

Begin by working with your PRO (ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC) to get your music pre-cleared for use in TV and film. Pre-clearing means all parties who control rights to the master recording and the underlying composition have agreed to license the song for synchronization with visuals. After pre-clearing songs, they can be submitted to industry libraries, or directly to supervisors (which is difficult without clout or existing relationships). SoStereo is an easy way to get music onto a discovery platform for supervisor and brands, and allows you to make your song searchable by genre, mood, instrumentation, and other top tags used by supervisors.

If there are any topics you would like the team to tackle, please email info@magneticmag.com with your question, and we will submit it to the SoStereo team.

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