When in doubt, go to an expert. My friend and collaborator, Joel Evans, has song placements in over 350 TV episodes and 60 movies. He’s been gracious enough to give us a few important tips on pitching for film and TV. Enjoy!
There are many ways to seek information and advice about licensing songs form film & TV. Books, blogs and websites filled with tips and tricks abound and it can be difficult determining how appropriate and accurate the information actually is. One of the best ways to get pertinent advice is to find out what successful music supervisors are currently saying. Though they are pretty well-insulated from us mere mortals, it is possible to read or watch a recent interview, or, best of all, attend a worthwhile event put on by a reputable organization where new trends are shared. Here are a few of the latest tips for pitching songs to film and tv that I’ve gathered in that way.
This is a quote from one of the highest profile Hollywood film and TV supervisors. He was talking about the piles of CDs that are delivered to his office weekly (generally 200-1000 new discs per week). Though many offices have staff that do try to listen to it all, the odds of standing out are greatly reduced by the sheer quantity of material. More importantly though, delivering songs in the format that’s most welcome to the supervisor improves the chance of being considered for the placement. Thoughtfulness is appreciated. With that in mind…
One possibility to consider is a web service like SoundCloud or Box.net. The idea is to provide an email link that a recipient can click to stream your song. This way nothing has to be downloaded to their already jam-packed computer hard drive. Obviously this idea is popular with the supervisors. Our Hollywood example prefers Box.net because it allows for streaming and then downloading if he should decide he wants to keep the song on file. One small caveat with these services is be sure to read the terms of their agreements. You may have to give them the right to use your music to promote their own business.
If you’re an artist, your own website may be most ideal for this, if you can manage it, because of all the other great info about you that’s available there. (A side tidbit: Have your bio, press kit, and photos downloadable from the site, too, in case a journalist is up against a deadline and needs a quick, easy solution for an article).
Quite simply, metadata is any information you can embed directly onto your mp3. This can be done from within iTunes (or ID3 tag editing software with more in-depth capabilities) and is well worth learning how to do.
The anecdote goes like this: Artist submits cool tune, supervisor loves it but just doesn’t have a place for it right now. Weeks, maybe months go by, then – bam! – opportunity knocks. Supervisor remembers that cool tune; it’s just right for that plum placement in that hit show; and – oops – where’s the metadata? No one can figure out who owns the rights or who to contact for licensing! Due to time constraints they move on to their next option…
This problem is easily avoided by making sure that all pertinent info is included in the mp3 metadata. There are fields for writer, publishing and contact information as well as any descriptive comments you might want to include.
Getting to know music supervisors can be a difficult and daunting task, especially since they are besieged by everyone from indy artists to major labels and therefore understandably wary. However, many are willing to share knowledge that benefits everyone concerned. A little targeted web-surfing, interview watching/listening, or, if possible, attendance at an appropriate industry seminar can yield truly helpful insight into their world.