You Oughta Be In Pictures: How to Get Your Music Licensed for Film and TV

By: Cree Armstead and Darriell Butler

Have you ever paused a tv show or movie in order to frantically search the song playing in the background? The soundtrack plays a huge part in cinema. It helps evoke emotion, expound on a particular message and create familiarity. For instance, anyone who has seen Love and Basketball knows it was India Arie’s lamenting voice that underscored the most important game of the movie. Issa Rae’s wildly successful brainchild Insecure often utilizes little-known artists to set the tone for each episode and send a specific message. As for familiarity, even those furthest from the Force recognize the Star Wars theme. Do you wish to join the ranks of these iconic soundtracks? This week we will explore how to get your music featured in film and television.

1. Submit to Music Licensing Sites: The first step to getting your song featured is to submit it for licensing. Websites like Reverbnation and Rumblefish allow you to submit your music online for placement in film and TV. Reverbnation grants you access to unbiased fan feedback and festival slots, while Rumblefish also has opportunities outside of film like AV/VR and video games. There are a number of these services out there, some free and some paid. While paying for submission doesn't guarantee you placement in your favorite show, paid sites often have access to contacts that free sites do not. Compare each site and choose one that best suits your needs.

2. Establish Relationships with Music SupervisorsThe supervisor is the gatekeeper of music for the masses. Connect with them. Industry mixers and conferences are watering holes for these people, but if you can’t gain access to these events just yet, don’t fret. The power of social media in this age should not be underestimated. Search for music supervisor groups on Facebook, follow them on Snapchat and IG and make contact. Don’t know any by name yet? That’s what credits are for! Pause the credits of your favorite music-centric shows and look for the names of the people behind the soundtracks. Reach out with confidence and respectfully show that you're bringing something of value to their table. Remember, music supervisors are always searching for a fresh new sound and yours might be exactly the tune they are looking for.

3. Research, Rinse, RepeatIn addition to submitting to licensing sites and establishing industry relationships, research is an invaluable task. Sites like iMDB Pro and Variety are excellent tools for artists seeking exposure. Signing up with a professional membership on iMDB allows you to create an official credited profile and grants you access to a list of projects in production- projects in need of soundtracks. Variety.com is not just an entertainment news site- it features Variety Insight, a service that tracks all phases of the industry and alerts members when projects are greenlit. It also contains a list of open assignments and the industry contacts needed to get involved with them.

Though it may seem like an insurmountable task at first, don’t get discouraged. In this industry, there is a process for everything and groundwork is important. Use these steps and you’ll be that much closer to getting your voice on screen!


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