Getting your song in a commercial. It seems like it should be simple right? You send your song to a general email at an ad agency and then boom they pick your song for their next commercial right? No. There is a process that can be lengthy and requires timing, luck and skill for you to get your song in a commercial. Let’s break down the process in how that happens and what you need to do to give yourself as a musician or band the best chance of getting a sync.
Unless you are with a major label that will likely handle this, the first thing is signing up with a music licensing company like SoStereo. Even if you are with a major, it could help to sign on with a licensing company. Agencies will be more likely to listen to a song if it comes from a company they know rather than just a random submission.
Once you have chosen your music licensing company, have your music in order. Finish your song, and then create the instrumental of the song, because often times in commercials the company will be doing the talking. Even if you believe your vocals are important, they may not have much airtime in the commercial. In addition to that, send the stems to the licensing company because the ad agency may want to tweak the song or take one piece and then add it with another. For example, they may use 10 seconds of the intro and then directly move into the drop, skipping one minute of the build. The licensing company will make sure all of the legal paperwork is complete and the metadata is sorted so once a request comes in, it can be completed as soon as possible and they don’t lose the gig.
From this point, there isn’t much you as an artist can do beyond writing good music and continuing to work on your career as an artist.
Why your song was chosen is a totally different story and something we will try and demystify for you now.
It starts at an ad agency. They have to create an ad for a brand, so they have to create an ad that will raise revenue and awareness for that product. The strategy and planning team goes over the campaign. They try and map out who their target audience is, what their interests are and how they relate to the product the brand is looking to sell. With these ideas narrowed down, they give this to the creative team and the creative team starts to come up with their advertisement. Once they have a good idea, this is where the music comes in.
They approach the music licensing company with an idea of how they want to song to sound like and a potential reference track. The licensing company has to be quick from here to find the right song that would fit the campaign and pitch it to the agency. With the pitch, they have to be ready with the instrumental, proper metadata, stems and legal completed so everything is ready to go if the production arm, creative and brand all like the song. All pieces of the puzzle have to be on board with the song.
In the end it comes down to being in the right place at the right time. You have to make great music that can be used in a variety of different situations, but a lot of the process isn’t in your control. Work hard, stay on top of trends in commercials and the opportunity may come your way. Don't make your song sound like it is following trends, but be aware of them. The internal politics of ad agencies and brands can be frustrating, but make your music impossible to deny.