Senior Vice President of Music Placement and Licensing at Razor & Tie, Brooke Primont, has some super simple, no nonsense advice for songwriters hoping to place their songs in film and TV. Brooke oversees the licensing department, working on music placements of Razor & Tie recording artists and music publishing writers and composers in television, film, ads, video games as well as all other media outlets. Some of Brooke’s recent placements include Chevy, Kohl’s, Apple, Pantene, Pepsi, American Family Insurance, STP, Lenovo, Delivery Man, Transparent & Grey’s Anatomy. You’d be well advised to pay close attention to her suggestions below.
It’s a question we hear all day long. How can I get my songs placed in TV shows, commercials, films, etc.? Well, you want to know what is being used? Watch TV is what I say.
It sounds simple but the most effective way to figure out what the marketplace uses is right at your fingertips. Watch TV. Sounds silly, but that’s what we do! And now you can pretty much sit in front of your computer and find episodes to watch directly from the networks’ websites. As for ads…I suggest you watch TV for one night and DO NOT FAST FORWARD the commercials! I know, how can you possibly sit through all those ads? Well for the sake of your livelihood, I suggest you do it. You will learn in ONE NIGHT what gets used in ads and promos. They are usually simple, catchy songs or instrumentals. When we send briefs out about needing a song for an ad with a keyword XXX, it 99% of the time will need to be in the chorus and hit you over the head with it. Not something hidden in the verses, or used as a metaphor. A lot of the time ads are really simple and have to deliver their message in either fifteen or thirty seconds – therefore you gotta cut to the chase quickly! You will also learn what type of song is currently trending for ads. A few years back I would have advised a hooky, quirky, upbeat sounding song with some glockenspiels to bring it over the top. Today I will tell you to run far from that glockenspiel and write me an “emotional yet hopeful song.” Yes, I do work on briefs all day long from music supervisors asking for as much, but I could also find that out myself by tuning in nightly.
Alternatively, there is a really great website we use all the time to do research. http://www.tunefind.com/ It has listings of all current TV shows and shows a list of what songs are being used. It’s updated daily and you can even hear clips of the songs that are used in the show. You can look at current and past seasons, per episode, and even scene descriptions! We hear a lot, “My song would be perfect for XXX show.” Well, don’t be too sure. Do you watch the show? Gary Calamar, one of the top music supervisors around (True Blood, Dexter, House and many more), once told a story that every day he gets hundreds of submissions for True Blood with songs about vampires, blood, etc and not once has he ever used a song about a vampire! So this site is helpful in understanding what gets used on what shows. Sending an email to a music supervisor that says you actually are a fan of the show and you watch the show carries way more weight and will have a higher chance of getting listened to. And let’s be honest, that’s the ultimate goal here.
The best research there is is free and at your fingertips! Don’t make this more complicated than it is.