We have gone over at length how to write music for film, TV, commercials or gaming. We have discussed how your music may be dissected and the process you will have to navigate from the time you make a song to the time it is synced for a commercial, game, TV show or movie. However there is one crucial that you will need to woo to get your music placed – the music supervisor.
Pitching music supervisors is similar to pitching music websites or labels. They are tastemakers and curators who represent the interest of the company they work for. They are there to best execute the musical vision of their company or the project they are working on to the best of their ability.
Before we get to the more nuanced and difficult task of trying to approach a music supervisor, there are few basic you should know when sending a file for them to listen. If you get this wrong, you will have no shot and ruin your first impression. Anyone who gets pitches, especially large supervisors, will get hundreds of songs a week or day. They have to sift through this, in addition to answering internal emails and executing the rest of their job curating the musical direction for a show, game, commercial or film. It isn’t just listening to new music all day.
When you send a song in an email, make you send a link with that can be streamed and downloaded. Don’t send your song attached as a file. Do not. Make sure the link won’t expire after a week or two. It has to be available to listen for months. This can be a SoundCloud link. If it is just one song, it can be Dropbox, but for multiple songs in a project, make sure they can listen to it seamlessly. The less time they have to flip back and forth between songs the better. This has to be easy. The metadata has to be filled in. Don’t just write “demo 1” and send it via WeTransfer without any description. That will go straight in the trash. If your song has vocals, try and also send an instrumental version because that is often the version that will be used. If you have the stems, also send that in a separate file. Only send your best music. Send one or two released songs max and then an unreleased song if you are ready to give one of those to a supervisor and be clear about who owns each work.
For your pitch, find the person’s email. Do your homework and make the effort to try and find it. Search for them on Twitter (not to DM them), but they may have their email listed, or go to the company’s website and see if it is listed there. Try LinkedIn to see if it is listed there. Even a more in-depth check in Google may find the right one. There are several databases and listings on the web that have supervisor’s names and contact info.
When sending an email, keep things short. Address the person by name. Also know what you are pitching for. They are likely working on one or two projects and may not have the bandwidth to think about placing songs for movies, commercials or films in the abstract future. If they are working on big movies or TV shows, try and pitch at the time when they would be taking submissions for that project, not when the piece is already in post-production or a week before it is being released. This can be easier said than done, but pay attention to latest news about new films, stay up to date on studio announcements and try and get in at the ground floor with your music. Maybe you will get lucky.
Don’t just blindly pitch them. Get to know who they are, know what projects they work on and see if it is the right fit for you and your music. If you are sending some dance songs and they are working on a Civil War show, it obviously won’t work and will create a bad impression of you.
Keep your email short with a quick sentence about you / your band, then what you are pitching for and how the song would fit with their project. Include links to socials and a website. In your email title, put your name, what it may sound like and what it is for. Keep it short.
If you can, try and meet and network with music supervisors the old fashioned way – in person. NARIP (National Association of Record Industry Professionals) hosts mixers and pitching sessions and see if you can attend other trade shows in your area. Have your music ready to go if they ask for it, but don’t just shove it in their face. Try and be a human first and make a connection.
Then once you have pitched and pitched well, there isn’t too much you can do. It may take weeks or longer to get to your music. Don’t make it seem like you are pestering them. Do not cold call or follow up via phone. You may have just missed the right opportunity, but they kept your music on the back burner for another show or commercial. You may not hear back at all or a year later when your music suddenly becomes relevant again.