Music Licensing Tips

There’s a wealth of information out there on how to get your music into video games, on films, tv shows, commercials, and other opportunities. For now, I’ll just focus on a few general thoughts to get you started in this area:

  • Avoid Submission Fees: There are many opportunities, many listed on Sonicbids and Reverbnation, that cost money to submit to. The gig listings promise that they can help get your music submitted to TV networks, films, etc. Often times, they list other clients that they’ve worked with before. However, unless you are dealing directly with the score/producer/director/etc., don’t waste your time with paying a submission fee. There’s no guarantee that even if they like your song, it’ll be used. Most people charge a percentage for a placement.
  • Music Licensing Fees: Most music licensing agents charge between 40-60% for getting your music placed. That’s industry standard. The reason is that you are competing against artists who are willing to give their music away for free in exchange for the exposure. In that kind of market, licensing agents know that they can charge as much as they’d like.
  • Music Licensing Companies: Some agencies have “open” submissions, some don’t. Some specialize in indie music, others don’t. Pump Audio (now owned by Getty Images) is probably one of the more popular ones that accept nearly anything submitted. Rumblefish is one of the most popular that represent indie artists (largest indie music catalog in the world). Find a company that suits your needs.
  • Exclusive Contract? Some companies ask for exclusive rights to licensing, most don’t. With the ones that don’t, you can sign up for as many companies as you’d like. However, with ones that are exclusive, they tend to push for certain clients more than others (they’ll “fight” to get your music placed as opposed to just having a catalog). Do your homework first and consult an entertainment attorney if you are curious.
  • Prepare Your Music: Have mastered and unmastered, instrumental versions of all of your music as well as the regular arrangements. It allows for flexibility when there’s a need. Many licensing companies will also have you prepare your lyrics and suggest theme/content/meaning of your songs. You can even write songs specifically for licensing that isn’t necessarily indicative of your normal material.

Keep doing research but make sure you read the fine print. Licensing opportunities are part if your music’s brand so treat them as such.

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