Needs for music in film, T.V. and visual media are pretty endless these days. Just watch any television program, commercial and YouTube video and it will be apparent.

If you’re targeting your music to get licensed, there is some information  you need to know in order to succeed.

As 2016 begins, I want to jump into the New Year with all guns blazing.

And I want that for you readers too so,


1. RESEARCH what music is being used in film, television and advertisements. Find out what music is being used for the shows you love to watch. Is it jazz or EDM or blues rock? Are the scenes in bars, parties, lobbies, homes? And what kind of music is playing in those places? Is it sophisticated jazz stuff? Is it young party music? And how do you find out?

It’s easy- LISTEN INTENTIONALLY. Try not to pay attention to the story or acting for a second and just listen to the music under the dialog. Knowing what the MUSIC USERS are USING is KEY to understanding what to write for them. There are also websites which list what music is used. Check out

Understand how the money flows in music licensing. Study the income funnel. When approached by a music user who is interested in your music, show that you care enough about your music to know about the business that it’s attached to. Under-promise and over-deliver. And the excuse that you’re a creative entity and you just don’t want to be concerned or bothered with the contract stuff doesn’t cut it anymore. Get into 2016. Things have sea changed since 1970.

Read and re-read contracts so you know the legal points. If you can’t understand something then ask for clarification. (It’s O.K. to not know something!) Better yet, hire an attorney to explain and look over contracts for you and be part of your business team. (See more about this on #8)

Be your own best advocate by being informed and savvy. And honor your commitments and deadlines. Always.

Here are some great books on the business of songwriting and music licensing which I have read and can recommend.

Robin Frederick – Shortcuts to Songwriting for Film and T.V.
Donald Passman – “This Business of Music”

3. KEEP A PERSISTENT, POSITIVE ATTITUDE. Don’t buy into the naysayers rants. They will be moaning and groaning no matter the state of the industry. Sure, things are in a state of flux, but that’s the way of the world. So, will you let it freeze you from making music and doing what you love to do? Nobody likes to be around a complainer so just don’t be one. Make people come towards you, not back the hell away.

4. DEVELOP SYSTEMS to make you more organized and keep you producing lots of content fast. Organize yourself. Have folders for each aspect of your business.


Then put all relevant stuff in their respective folders so you can have quick access to the files when you need them. They shouldn’t live on your desktop or just in your head.

5. CREATE TEMPLATES IN YOUR WORKFLOW so that you have sounds, instruments and presets at your disposal quickly for each genre you write and/or produce in.

If there’s a certain vocal chain you love, or hybrid sound you created or tone on an instrument, then save it right away so you can access it again quickly. Organize your sounds for blues/rock (if that’s what you do), your EDM sounds, etc… so you can replicate quickly. There’s no need to re-invent the wheel. If you’re writing lyrics, then organize them in one place if possible. I use Evernote for all my songwriting and business-related writing and reading.

Click here for #6-10!


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