It’s no surprise that so many songwriters and composers have jumped on the music licensing bandwagon. It’s one of the few areas of the music business that provides some decent monetary opportunities.
But as a songwriter, it’s important to realize that writing for film and t.v. is different than writing for an artist. When I shifted my focus to film and t.v. a few years ago, I quickly learned that my expectations didn’t quite equate to reality.
In my last post I started telling you 10 Things I Didn’t Realize About Writing for Film and T.V. If you missed it, read it first, then head back here for the remaining five:
6. You’ll need to “tag” your song files with information about the song’s genre, length, mood etc. Why do this if you already have this info in your head? Music supervisors will use the meta information attached to song files in order to sort and search their library. If your song file isn’t tagged with this info, how will a music supervisor come across it when they’re searching for something of a specific mood? Or genre? (Check out this post for more information on meta-tagging).
7. If you’ve used union musicians and voice talent on your recordings then you might not be able to license your songs. Most music supervisors (who look for music to place music in film and t.v.) or publishers (who pitch to them), require music to be “cleared”. That means you have to have permission from your co-writer(s) to license your song and permission from the union musicians who play or sing on your song. You’ll want to get this permission in writing in the form of a signed waiver. Pro tip: get this signature at the end of your recording session. You don’t want to be chasing people down weeks, months or years later.
8. Reaching out to music supervisors – in addition to having to write, produce and record the songs – is a huge time drain. If you’re finding you don’t have enough hours in the day to make the music and pitch it, you won’t be successful. Consider aligning yourself with people experienced in music licensing (publishers, sync. agents, music libraries, etc.). Let them do that work for you in exchange for the publishing share. Yes, you’ll have to give up some of your revenue, but part of something is better than all of nothing.
9. When you’re working in the world of music licensing, you have to be disciplined, organized and efficient. A songwriter writing for film and t.v. is going to start accumulating a LOT of music. Start out by putting systems in place to keep organized. It will pay off down the road. (Get some tips on organization here).
10. It takes a long time to GET PAID. Expect anywhere from 6 months up to 2-3 years after the actual placement before you finally see the money. It’s just the way the payment cycle works: network places your song, they send the paperwork to your PRO and to your publisher, who in turn sends money to you. It’s a hurry up and wait game, So have patience.
There you have it: 10 things you should know about writing music for film and t.v. If you’re just starting out in the world of music licensing, I hope this helps you in your journey. If you want more detailed information on working in this space, don’t worry. I’ve written a whole series on it… check it out here.
Already writing for film & t.v.? What tips can you share?
Post in the comments section below.