Do You Understand The Music Licensing Market?

The publishing company that I have worked with for the last several years recently changed hands.  There is a new owner who is now screening music and her approach is a little different than my previous publisher.  One of the first questions she aks me when I submit material to her is where I see the material being pitched.  At first this question sort of annoyed me.  I don't know I thought, that's your job.  You pitch it wherever you think it will work!

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized this is a perfectly reasonable question for a publisher to ask a songwriter.  As a songwriter pursuing licensing opportunities, you are essentially creating a product that your publisher (assuming you work with a publisher) is going to attempt to sell to an end user.   It's ultimately your publisher's job to find projects that need music and match up relevant music with relevant projects.  But if you really want to do well licensing your music you need to understand the market you are working in.  In other words, you need to do market research.

Think of yourself as a wholesaler and your music publisher as a retailer.  You are providing a product and your publisher (or agent or music library) is distributing it.  In any other market, you would need to do know the market you are working in if you planned to be successful.  If you were manufacturing guitars, for example, you would need to understand the guitar market thoroughly.  You would need to understand what was already on the market, what consumers and dealers wanted, and you would need to develop a plan based on the market.  Think of any market and the same principles apply.

So why would it be any different with licensing music?  Well, clearly it's not.  The music licensing industry, like any industry is dictated by the same laws of supply and demand.  Certain types of music are in more demand than others at any give time.  As a songwriter working in the industry you need to stay on top of the trends in the industry.  How?  The simplest way is to watch TV and Film projects and listen to what kind of music gets licensed.  Find out where publishers and libraries are pitching music and find out what kind of music they need.   Yes it takes a little work and time to do this kind of research, but it's essential.

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