A Formula (sort of) For Licensing Your Music

Posted by Aaron Davison on Thursday, March 1, 2012
In my last post I talked about how there really is no shortcut to success in the music licensing industry.  But that doesn't mean there aren't things you can do to expedite your success.  In this post I am going to talk about a systematic approach for getting started or moving forward in the licensing business that if you adhere to will greatly expedite how quickly you start licensing your music. 

I have to preface this by saying that this entire method is contigent upon you having music that is good enough to license in the first place.  Not much you do will help you move forward if your music doesn't meet both the production and songwriting standards required to license your music.  I've talked a lot about what those standards are in previous posts so I'm going to skip that for now.  If you're not sure, check out my previous newsletters or my ebook for more information on how to writes songs that work for TV and Film.

Successfully licensing your music is all about connecting the right song with the right opportunity, at the right time.  That's it.  There are projects like TV shows, Films, Advertisements and so on looking for music to licensing on an ongoing basis. Obviously in order to get your music licensed, you have to somewhow get your music into the right hands at the right time.  So the question in terms of getting your music licensed is really how you can do that most efficiently.

As I've stated before there are essentially two paths to getting your music licensed.  Licensing your music directly through music supervisors and licensing your music through publishers, libraries and so on. I generally advocate that songwriters starting out focus more on connecting with publishers and libraries.  It's not that I'm against working directly with music supervisors. I'm not at all.  But it's generally trickier and there are a lot more variables involved.  For example, in my experience if you email ten music supervisors inquiring about submitting your music, maybe two or three will actually get back to you.  Then, depending on what project they're currently working on (if they're working on anything at all) their music needs will be all over the place.  So if you connect with a music supervisor who is currently looking for 80's metal and you're a singer/songwriter, your obviously not going to be a good match for each other.  This isn't to say that you can't possibly work together down the road, but starting a relationship with a music supervisor this way can be tricky.

On the other hand, if you're connecting with established music publishers or libraries, they'll generally have established relationships with multiple supervisors and will be able to match your music with the right project at the right time.  Now of course, the needs of music publishers and libraries change and fluctuate as well. But generally speaking they'll be more open to working with a broader range of styles, even if they don't have an immediate need for it.

So the question becomes, how do you connect with right publisher (or supervisor) at the right time?  How do you know in advance who is going to like and need your music? Well the short answer is, you don't.  This is the part there really is no shortcut to.  You simply have to do the work of making connections and finding out who responds to your music. I could tell you who my publisher is but that of course is no guarantee they'll like or need your music.  You have to carve your own unique path like every other songwriter who is out there working in the industry.

To address this "reality" of the music licensing business I created a program that I call "The 90 Day Music Licensing Challenge".  The idea is really simple.  Participants in my program submit their music to one new place every day for 90 days.  The idea isn't to connect and work with 90 different places.  That's neither realistic or necessary. All you really need is one good connection to move forward in the business.  But because you don't know who that person or company is in advance, and frankly I don't either, you have to cast a wider net.

The 90 Day Challenge has been really successful in helping songwriters move forward in the business because it provides a really simple to follow framework for getting started in the business. It's as close to a formula for getting started in the business that I know of.  Success in the music licensing business, or any business for that matter, is just a series of small steps taken over time that lead to success.  The 90 Day Challenge breaks down the steps you need to take to get started in the business into a very easy to follow system.  One submission a day, every day, for 90 days.... that's it!

I'll be sending out details of a new and improved 90 Day Challenge that I'll be starting soon. I'm working on a fancy schmancy video that will explain the details of the program and will send that out in the next few days for everyone who is interested.  In the meantime, think about what you can do today to move your career forward, whether you take my program or not.  Is there someone you could submit your music to right now that might be able to help you license your music? Is there a phone call you could make or an email you could send that would help you move forward with your career?  Don't let the seeming bigness of your goals intimidate you.  Just take small steps every day and they'll lead to bigger and better things.  I guarantee it! 

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