Posted by Aaron Davison on Thursday, June 26, 2014 Under: June 2014
Over the last few years of learning how to make money by licensing my music for use in TV and Film I've acquired a lot of knowledge about the the licensing business and how it works. When I started pursuing licensing and publishing opportunities six years ago I was completely clueless as to how to get started. There were no programs or guides (at least that I knew of) on how to get started. I didn't know who to contact, what to say, what kind of music was needed, etc... Succeeding required doing a lot of research, knocking on a lot of doors and a lot of hard work.
The majority of people I work with and who I correspond with have nothing but positive things to say about what I'm doing with regards to educating others about the licensing business. But every once in a while I get an email or a phone call from someone who wants to know why I'm helping others get started in this business. They want to know if I'm afraid that I'm just creating more competition for myself. I don't look at it this way at all. In fact I first learned about music licensing from several of my professors at Berklee College of Music who were also licensing their own music.
One of these professors later went on to establish her own publishing company and over the years has licensed dozens of her own songs and placed thousands of other songwriters' songs, including my own. Do you think she was worried about creating more competition for herself? I don't think she saw it this way at all. What she was doing was developing a powerful network of relationships with many talented up and coming songwriters. Many of whom she would later go on to work with professionally (including me).
The music licensing business has always been driven by songs and the songwriters who write them. And the songwriters who are the most knowledgeable about the business and what opportunities exist will have the most success. So I don't worry about the extra competition I'm creating. I'm happy to educate others about this business and it actually makes me feel good when others succeed in part because of information I imparted. I totally believe in social karma and the idea that what comes around goes around. It's always been my experience that the more you give the more that comes back to you! I feel very blessed that I was able to go to a school like Berklee, which isn't cheap by any stretch of the imagination. I was fortunate that my parents were willing and able to help me get such a great education.
But the fact is you don't have to go to a school like Berklee to succeed in the music industry. You certainly don't need a degree to write a great song and NO ONE will ever ask you where you went to school when you're trying to license your music or trying to get a record deal, that I can promise you! But you do need to know how the business works and you need to network with the right people. This was probably the most beneficial aspect of attending Berklee for me.
After Berklee I continued to network with other musicians. When I first started recording songs with the specific goal of licensing them for use in TV and Film I was broke. I definitely fit the stereotype of the struggling artist. I was making enough to get by but I had very little extra money to spend on things like gear, recording equipment or studio time. My perceived lack of resources held me back for quite awhile. But it was actually the person who ended up becoming my publisher, and a mentor of sorts, that helped me think about my situation differently. She encouraged me to develop relationships with other people who had what I lacked in order to help each other move forward.
For example I met several people who were willing to help me record and produce my songs for free in exchange for a percentage of money I earned from the songs. This helped the producers earn extra money and one of them in particular ended up getting his own publishing deal through the connection he ended up making with my publisher. Through our relationship and working together I got free studio time, he earned extra money, he got a deal with my publisher and my publisher found an extra songwriter to work with. This is what Stephen Covey, the author of the "Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People" describes as a "win-win" relationship.
I have worked out similar deals with background vocalists and lead vocalists as well who were willing to sing on my recordings in exchange for building their resume and a very nominal back end percentage. There are many different ways to be resourceful to get things done. I have met many of the people I've worked with and have become friends with over the years by simply posting or responding to ads on Craigslist. If you live in or near any decent size city you will find that there are no shortage of people who are also looking to make connections and collaborate.
No man is an island. Connect with the right people and you'll find it much more easy to move forward.
In : June 2014
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