splash

Music Marketing

Posted By Rick Goetz on July 6th, 2013

A blog for musicians and music industry people. It is a free educational resource and it is also the way I advertise my music consulting services. I am an entertainment professional with deep roots in the music industry. Throughout my music career I have been a major label A&R representative, a music supervisor, an artist manager, a reality show producer, a bass player and the head of a digital record label.

 

Posts Tagged ‘Get my songs in film’

Music and Advertising

Posted By Rick Goetz on November 1st, 2011

Josh Rabinowitz is the Senior Vice President/Director of Music for Grey Worldwide. He is also Bandleader of the New York City-based funk group The Second Step, a group that has been actively performing for nearly 20 years. In the past decade, he has written and produced several thousand tracks for brands throughout the world. He has worked on ad campaigns with brands like Cover Girl and Dr. Pepper, and artists such as Rihanna, the Black Eyed Peas, Run DMC, Cyndi Lauper and Natasha Bedingfield. He has also worked on music for films including Waking the Dead and Arlington Road. In 2008, Josh created the record label Pantene/Grey Music, which was the first imprint to release music as a joint venture between a brand and its agency. Josh is also an adjunct Professor of Music at The New School and has taught a course on “Music in the Media” at the Steinhardt School of Music Professions at NYU. He is also an occasional contributor to Billboard magazine.

 

 

Recently, I connected with Josh, and he shared the story about his unique journey in the music and advertising industries. He also delivered some sound advice for artists that want to build a solid career in music.

 

 

Musician Coaching:

 

Thanks so much for taking some time to talk to me, Josh. I actually opened up for the Second Step when I was a kid. I was playing in a funk band, and anything with horns ended up on the same bill, often enough. You guys were ska back then. How did you come to be in the music business?

 

JR:

 

We eventually became a funk band. We started out as a ska band. I joined the band in 1987 and then became the leader of the group and took over the business aspect of the band. I booked all the shows. We were a touring band for a while doing 200-plus shows per year for a while. That’s what I was doing for a living at that time, if you can call it a living. During those years, the band was eight or nine people. Now we’re a seven-piece band. We still play gigs occasionally. In the summertime we’ll play on Block Island, in the Hamptons, or play a private party. We enjoy it. And when it’s a hobby, it’s a lot more fun than when you’re depending on all these gigs to pay bills and feed yourself.

 

Musician Coaching:


There are certainly easier ways to make money, no question about it.

 

JR:

But it was an interesting learning experience. My problem was that after I came out of college, I wanted to get into music and was really passionate about it. I just didn’t have any great connections. I didn’t have any family members that were involved in music, and neither my parents nor I had any friends that were involved in the business of music at all. I really didn’t have a foot in the door or a way of getting my foot in the door. That was kind of disconcerting for me.

 

I tried over the years to get a job. And a lot of the experiences I had with taking the band on the road, being a producer in the studio and as a side musician being a trombone player I felt like I had decent real life resume. I had gone to a music and arts high school in Manhattan and was one of the top students. I thought I had some skills and abilities. But I had no way of really connecting them to money in terms of a job. I tried all kinds of things.

 

Musician Coaching:


That’s a door that a lot of guys that are getting older or having families, but still want to stay in the business or play music as a hobby are trying to get through. How have you been able to find success with that?

 

JR:

 

It’s interesting, because I graduated college at 22 and didn’t get a job until I was 31. So, I eventually got through by banging my head against the wall, trying to connect with people I didn’t really know or have great hookups to – just doing everything I could. It was in the age where email wasn’t happening yet. So, it was a lot of faxing of resumes, cold calls and then doing whatever I could to just get by, which was essentially playing in the band, which was my main source of income. I was also a substitute music teacher and a music teacher in a public school. My daughter and son ended up both going there. And I was also a sideman on gigs.

 

I guess what happened was that it came to a point where I didn’t really have any promising possibilities. A lot of people told me, “I’d love to have you working in our A&R department,” or, “I’d love to have you work in our main agent booking gigs,” or, “You should definitely come work in our management department.” I got approached with a lot of things that I felt were really exciting and that would turn into something. But they didn’t.

 

Then, I met some guy, and he said, “I’ve been in the music business for years, and one facet of the industry that seems really interesting is the advertising music sector – the jingle houses.”

 

Musician Coaching:

 

And which year was this?

 

JR:

This was when I was about 30. So, it was about 1994.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

So, at that time, music and advertising wasn’t big yet. It wasn’t cool.

 

JR:

 

It definitely wasn’t cool. And I knew some people that were doing it that I had played with. They talked about how they did these sessions and then got paid session fees. And then they’d go to the union and get some checks. Then, I also knew some people who would just sing in ads and would get crazy money in the mail. I still thought of it as a sell out and not real music. And I was fairly principled, but I did need a job.

 

I didn’t have a way to find out the names of the different jingle houses. Obviously, there was no Google. I would ask people about it, but then finding the phone numbers and information was really hard. I remember once I walked into Barnes and Noble and found a book about advertising. There were a couple pages that listed some of the jingle houses. And I tore the pages out. I think I still have those pages folded up somewhere in a memorabilia folder.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

That’s a great story.

JR:

Yeah. It’s funny to think about now. I found out about some of these places and sent a whole bunch of faxes. And then a guy called me and said, “Why don’t you come in, and we’ll give it a shot? I’m looking for a guy who isn’t really been in the business and hasn’t been jaded by the business.” And point I had borrowed a couple hundred dollars from my sister and bought a one-way ticket to New Orleans. As a trombone player, I figured, if I was going to be a starving musician, why not try to do it in a place where someone at least supports the type of playing I was doing? And even today, it’s amazing how many trombone players you hear about that are coming out of there and surviving doing it. So, maybe I made a mistake!

 

But, I took a job with this guy at a company called JSM. His name was John Silberman. And I worked with him for a few months. Once I got my foot in the door, I said, “Alright, I’m 31-years old. I have to make something happen.” So, I learned the business, which didn’t seem too complex to me. And I met a lot of the people. I went to parties, and I read all the industry trades and saw who was doing what. I was in the business, so it was a good way to meet people.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

It sounds like you really drank it up, unlike somebody like myself, who stumbled into the business early and took it for granted. It seems like you wrung the life out of it and really seized every opportunity once you got your foot in the door.

 

JR:

Yeah. I really needed to. I came from a nice, Jewish, middle-class Brooklyn family of professionals. And although there were some pretty unique experiences I look back on now fondly – in my 20s, it felt like, “Everyone is doing pretty well. The economy’s not doing badly. Why can’t I get a job doing what I love?” Obviously, to be able to sustain yourself doing what you love and playing music is kind of like winning the lottery in some respects; it’s very hard to do it. Certainly, I got pretty lucky and got my foot in the door.

 

JSM didn’t work out very well for me in terms of being long term. But I had my eye on the people who were the big-time hitters in the business. And there was a conglomerate called tomandandy. It was two guys that had a place in SoHo on Greene Street and a place out in Santa Monica. And they were doing some really cool film work and cutting-edge advertising work.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

And when you were at JSM, were you supervising spots or hiring musicians? What kind of role did you start out having when you got into the business?

 

JR:

I was hiring musicians, I was working on projects and was the point person between the music company and composers, engineers, musicians and advertising agency production people.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

So, you had to speak a collection of languages.

 

JR:

 

Yes. It’s useful knowing the language and balancing it with the business practices, and it was just about that and being a good and reliable person; those are all key skills in any business. It was also creating original music. Essentially, I created some jingles with singing in them, but a lot of instrumental music.

 

Then I started working at this place tomandandy, and they were working with “cooler” people and on more creative projects. I was hired as a producer and contractor of musicians and then became the executive producer there. I worked there for several years there. The problem I had with that business was the reality in the industry that if you are a truly creative spirit and have some sort of creative vision and think your work is great, that doesn’t necessarily mean the people you are selling to think it is great. And it was hard for me to swallow that. I wasn’t very good at taking the hits.

 

Then I thought, “What can I do next in this business? I can start my own company. But I can’t take the hits very well. Or, I could move over to the other side and be the person who’s hiring people to do the music. Maybe I can soften the blows and try to make some cool things happen.” And the advertising agencies were already my clients. So, there was an opening I’d heard about at one of the big ad agencies called Young and Rubicam (Y&R). And I connected well with them, and got the job. I ended up working there for seven years. That was probably 1998. And at that point, people were starting to license music a lot more for ads.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

Right. Well, the Cadillac commercial with Led Zeppelin was in the late ‘90s. It’s the one I always think of as blowing the doors wide open.

 

JR:

 

Yeah. That was an important one. There were a few in the late ‘90s. Sting had one where they used his song “Desert Rose.” He licensed it gratis to Jaguar. They used it, and it actually really helped boost his record sales. Moby was also starting to get in on it, and there was a great deal of attention around him. It was almost like you were clicking the remote to your TV and seeing classic rock radio station after classic rock radio station. But it was mostly famous, well-known songs, and not songs from emerging artists. Eventually, of course, it became about emerging artists.

 

When I got to Y&R I was responsible for specific accounts and the music used in those accounts, including creating original music – which was almost the entirety of it – and some licensing of existing songs. And I got lucky enough to work with a bunch of artists, because this was a time when artists were seeking revenue opportunities and getting paid pretty decent money to be part of an ad, whether in the ad itself or writing the music for the ad. I got to work with an array of people, like the Black Eyed Peas before they were famous. I worked with Run DMC, LL Cool J, Celia Cruz, Mark McGrath, Macy Gray – there were a bunch. I also did a spot with an artist named Alana Davis who was critically acclaimed, but not necessarily a huge name. We did a spot where they put a chyron on the spot that listed the name of the artist, the song and where you can download it. We also did a synergized deal with Sony Records where we released a CD single of a version of a Crosby, Stills and Nash song that was on an ad. It got a lot of attention around the time of the Super Bowl.

 

Fortunately, I’ve been involved in some projects that have been bucking the trend and ahead of the curve. So, I’ve been able to get some press and create a name for myself. Eventually, there was an opening at Grey, where they wanted someone to head their music group and bring some mojo to it. They hired me about six years ago. At Grey, we’ve done a bunch of cool things, and I’ve had some great opportunities. I’ve been able to do a lot of moderating of panels and some op-ed work. I was a columnist at Billboard for a while doing a column called “With the Brand.” I’ve done a lot of extra-curricular work.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

Another reason I wanted to talk to you is because you’re very good at managing your own personal brand, which these days it’s good for every musician to be able to do. You’re someone who is paying real attention to how you’re perceived in the modern era. And that’s important. It’s not just self-preserving; it’s self sustaining.

 

JR:

 

I think of it as self-sustaining. That’s totally the phrase I use. In any field that’s associated with the media, entertainment and music, you have to be self-sustaining in appropriate ways. There are inappropriate people who are completely self-serving. The way I look at it is, it’s very hard to survive doing any kind of music work consistently. And certainly, with the way the economy is, it’s just becoming incredibly challenging. We are all feeling the strain.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

You’ve been a musician concurrent to your executive career, so you have a unique perspective. How is the business changing, and what should musicians be doing in order to get their music licensed? It seems like there are just so many options, because you can sign up with so many aggregators, etc.

 

JR:

 

If I were an artist trying to get my music licensed, I would be networking as much as possible, going to conferences and meeting as many people as I can. And then obviously if you’re an artist, after feeling like you’ve developed a decent sense of who the good and reliable people to work with are, get someone to represent you, or just be entrepreneurial and represent yourself. The DIY thing is in full effect. I feel like unless you’re just such a prolific creator that you just don’t have time to multitask, sell your own work and create your own matrix of connections, do it yourself. Create your own website. Create meaningful relationships. Do things on spec. And really show your value, your creativity and your reliability.

 

There are people that are completely entrenched in their work and can’t step away. I’m always jealous of those people, because I’ve never been able to do that.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

Nor have I. It’s too much left brain and right brain for me too, which is how I probably ended up on the business side of it.

 

I’ve had a taste of what you’ve been talking about a little bit, though not to the extent that you have. I had a “desk where dreams go to die.” And as such, it can be really overwhelming and hard to give people the attention people deserve. I always try to put it into perspective for people and say that if they go up to someone like you with two albums and you have Sony on the other line calling with all of Western music, it’s not really a contest. Do you have any advice for artists that are approaching music supervisors like yourself?

 

JR:

 

What gets my attention – and there are just so many things that sometimes I can’t even begin to handle it – is if somebody knows somebody I know, and if that person is somebody I like and respect. That’s how I will connect with somebody and at least give their music a listen – how they become a blip on my radar. For me, that’s literally what it is.

 

There’s great music out there. I created playlist after playlist of songs in my early years that I thought were the most creative and interesting songs to me. And I would kill to get that artist involved in some type of work I was doing. And I also have favorite artists from my experiences over the years and a gazillion friends I grew up with. I grew up in New York, so I just know a lot of people. But it’s not always the stuff I like that will get the air.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

You’re ultimately beholden to each client’s needs, I would guess.

 

JR:

 

Yes. It’s a totally collaborative process. So unfortunately, my vision isn’t always the vision. However, I am the one who’s guiding the process and trying to sell the work to all these different participants, whether it’s a specific client, the creative directors, art directors, producers or the account director on my side. Sometimes there are about ten cooks in the kitchen. But I am the one who is ultimately responsible for the music, so I am in control of the process to an extent and try to manage it well. I try to make it work. And what making it work means is that it’s not always about the thing I think is the greatest; it’s about what collectively everyone involved thinks is the greatest. I’m managing expectations of people and trying to give the group what they want. It’s great when it’s just one person I’m working with who is the ultimate decider, but that’s not necessarily the case.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

I would imagine that especially with the size of the accounts that Grey handles, you’re constantly having to placate a number of different entities.

 

JR:

Yes. And everyone loves music. Everyone is passionate about music – or at least 95% of the population, especially people in the creative and media-related marketing fields. Music is such a powerful thing and so subjective.

 

I remember reading The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test,  by Tom Wolfe. And there was a word – “intersubjectivity.” He said when people took drugs they came to this intersubjectivity. That’s kind of what I do. I try to create an intersubjectivity where everyone is liking something.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

That is politically not an easy portal to keep open, is it?

 

JR:

It’s very challenging. Now, if I have a vision for something, and I think it’s going to be just groundbreaking, or if I’m involved with a project, and I can tell something is going to get a lot of attention and be positive towards my brand and great for the brand we’re working for and the brand of my agency, I’m going to fight. I try not to give up. And those instances come up occasionally. But there are some projects you work on that are impossible to make great and satisfying. It’s not necessarily what’s they’re about. It’s about scoring a concept or a story or underscoring or creating a bed for something – to steal a line from Brian Eno – that’s “as ignorable as it is interesting.” So, it’s not really about making a huge statement.

 

Musician Coaching:


Sure. Not everything’s going to be an iTunes commercial.

 

Your story is definitely an interesting one that a lot of people would like to emulate. Do you have any parting words of advice for musicians and young music business professionals?

 

JR:

 

Try to create a meaningful relationship with someone like me that is a gatekeeper to music, or someone who can actually get you paid some money for your work. To me, it’s about having a deep pool of connections and not just pinpointing one or two people. What’s great about the business I’m in is that there are a lot of really interesting people. So the journey in terms of creating meaningful relationships with these people is a fun journey. You’re going to struggle, but it’s not like working in tax law or computer coding, where it’s arduous, detailed work. It’s fun and creative. There is a lot of music flowing, and a lot of people who are as passionate as you are to make their art happen and to monetize that creativity. In that journey, you’re going to meet a lot of interesting people. You’re also going to meet some freaks and have some disappointments. My problem was that I wasn’t enjoying the journey enough at some points because I was getting too tense and stressed. It is ultimately fun if you can enjoy it.

 

To learn more about Josh Rabinowitz and his work, check out JoshRabinowitzMusic.com.

Getting Your Music Licensed Today

Posted By Rick Goetz on October 6th, 2011

Tanvi Patel is a music licensing executive and President/CEO of Crucial Music, a one-stop agency for licensing independent music to films, TV shows, and commercials. Crucial has placed songs in Academy Award-winning films like Brokeback Mountain and A Beautiful Mind and Emmy-winning TV shows like Six Feet Under, The Office, Vampire Diaries and Boardwalk Empire. She has also worked on music in national commercials for Toyota, DKNY Pure, Royal Caribbean and Jaguar.

 

 

Tanvi was one of the first music industry professionals I interviewed for this blog, and I have reposted her initial interview about music licensing many times. Recently, I got to catch up with her again and discuss how music licensing has changed in the past few years, and what artists need to know about getting their music placed in film and television.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

Thanks for taking the time to talk to me again, Tanvi. What has changed in the music placement business in the last couple years?

 

TP:

 

In the music placement business, there have been numerous new licensing companies launched over the last couple of years. Everyone seems to think they can set up a music licensing business because the barrier to entry in regards to collecting and creating a catalog is a lot lower now. But I don’t know whether those services that are popping up are actually making money for anybody much less for themselves.

 

I’ve seen so many new services out there. It’s a good thing, but it’s also a bad thing. A lot of people don’t know what they’re doing. And that doesn’t benefit the artist at all, even though it gives the artist more access to licensing services – and in this market, it’s all about volume and getting a lot of music out there. But I don’t know if that actually benefits them when there are services that A) don’t have the contacts and B) don’t know what they’re doing…and their contracts may not be as comprehensive or legally sound as with some of the companies that have been around for a while. There’s more room for error.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

It’s funny you mention how many licensing businesses have popped up, because I’ve seen this happening in all areas of the music business. I do a lot of marketing and coaching, and I feel like over the last few years, anyone who was ever peripherally associated with the music business – right down to someone that might have been standing next to the guy from T-Rex at a show – now feels qualified to tell people how to make it in the music industry; everyone is coming out of the woodwork with some kind of opportunity for musicians. And a lot of these services can be somewhat predatory.

 

TP:

 

Exactly. I think it’s really important for an artist to do research and talk to other artists that have been with the service they’re interested in. Fortunately for us, even if we haven’t made a placement for someone, that person can log into our site and see where their stuff has been pitched. We’re not the kind of company that has blanket deals, wallpaper music with MTV or E! Entertainment – all these shows where they’re making pennies but getting placements. We’re just not that kind of service. But at least the artist can talk to other artists and that say, “Yes, I’m getting my stuff pitched. Hopefully something will land soon.” Even that is enough reassurance I think for an artist.

 

And an artist looking into a service should also talk to the other artists that have gotten placements with that service to find out how the payments are, how it was dealing with the company on a customer service level, etc.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

I came across a great resource. I interviewed a guy named Art Munson, who was the original guitar player for Dick Dale. He runs MusicLibraryReport.com

 

TP:

 

I’m very familiar with Music Library Report. They are a good service in that composers can go there and get some sort of an idea of some of the players. We were rated decently on it. When they were just an open forum, I saw some sour grapes, but there were also a lot of people who were willing to defend our licensing service. It’s like anything – like going to Yelp. There are people who have bad experiences and people who have great experiences. You have to take everything with a grain of salt.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

What do you recommend for musicians that want to sign up for multiple services? Is there a way to tell given the kind of music you’re generating as an artist whether or not you should have certain music with one service and other music with another service? Does it get messy when too many people are pitching the same batch of songs?

 

TP:

 

It has, and it does. That’s another thing that has occurred over the past few years:  Nobody anticipated the nonexclusive model to explode as it has. I think if I were a musician, this is what I would do:  I would find out what each service is really good at. So, if you’re looking to get good coverage, then you choose the ones that are getting the placements in various markets. For example, if one company does really well in advertising, then do a non-exclusive with that company for the advertising market. If another company like ours does really well in prime-time television and film placements, then you do a deal for that. And then if you’re looking to get music on MTV, you can do a deal with Pump Audio. If you approached it this way, you’d pretty much be covered in all areas, but it wouldn’t seem like each service was competing against each other for the same placements.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

Are there legitimate circles like that? Is there enough of a distinction between a company that does what you referred to as the wallpaper coverage for networks like Viacomm and people who do just TV placement or people who do more commercial advertising placement?

 

TP:

 

The ones that are really good at what they’re doing, yes, they become specialized in what they’re doing. For example, Rumblefish has really focused on going after the micro-sync market – the social networking music uses on YouTube video and Facebook video etc. That’s fantastic, and they’re covering a market that not many companies are covering. And we’ve recognized this and have actually done a deal with Rumblefish to distribute our catalog for the micro-sync market.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

I didn’t realize people were doing that legally often enough for that to be a viable market.

 

TP:

 

It’s huge. And they’ve placed millions of micro-syncs. Through their service they work directly with YouTube. For example, if you go into the YouTube AudioSwap program, one of the providers of that program is Rumblefish. It’s very rudimentary in terms of how it integrates music into your video; you basically choose a piece of music, and it starts at the beginning and cuts it off when your video ends. It’s by no means a high-quality editing system. But you can use a piece of music from the AudioSwap program, and you get a valid license. YouTube pays Rumblefish, and Rumblefish pays the artist.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

I certainly knew that kind of thing happened. But I really thought that illegal usage dwarfed that so much that it wouldn’t be a viable income stream. That’s good to know.

 

TP:

 

It’s a low-dollar, high-volume model. It really works for someone that has a high volume of material. And what it does for an artist that has ten songs – it gets them promotion. All of a sudden, their song could be on somebody’s video that gets 50 million hits. It may not be a lot of dollars on the one song, but it would be a lot of promotion.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

Well, exposure is exposure.

 

How has your business model changed as your catalog has expanded? Your submission process is not an easy one; you don’t accept everything. Pump Audio and some of the other ones are a little more accepting.  Have you found it harder or easier for you to function as a company as you have more and more rights?

 

TP:

 

It’s easier because we’ve gotten higher quality songs as time has gone on. The number of songs that come through that are really high quality is surprising. As an example, the strangest thing happened to us early on. We took a band on called The Elliots. They’re an amazing Swedish band from Gothenberg. We got them a few high-profile placements in some prime time shows. And they were pretty good at press. So, they managed to get a big article in the Gothenberg newspaper. And as a result of that, we get approached by a ton of Swedish bands. It’s amazing over the years how many Swedish bands we have because of the article that ran about that band in that territory.

 

So, people hear about us all over the world because the bands are receiving placements and then doing their own press. It’s become easy in that sense. But it’s also become harder, because we have to listen to more music. Our submission rates have increased. But the even harder part is that we can also afford to be a little bit pickier when we’re deciding which songs to take in. We have the luxury to say, “That lyric is really bad,” or “That lyric is really great, and we want to take it.” We have the opportunity to choose the A tracks.

 

Somebody just starting out as a licensing company might not be able to just take the A tracks; they want to build their catalog, and they want to build it fast. That’s never been a priority for us. Our priority has always been quality over quantity. It’s like when you were talking earlier about building something organically. Building organically has always been our #1 priority:  the quality of the songs. That’s what will make music supervisors continue to come back to us.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

Sure. That’s what will make them keep taking your calls.

 

I don’t mean to offend anyone that fits into this category, but I feel like four guys in flannel shirts playing middle-of-the-road rock are kind of overlooked when it comes to sync. Lately, it seems like what’s getting placed is very strange, textural music – music that doesn’t fall under the radio pop song category. Sometimes it seems like if you have strange lyrics and textures over 30 seconds, you have a better chance of making a living than if you just generated songs that sounded right for the radio. Has that been your experience lately?

 

TP:

 

Yes, like Foster the People or Sleigh Bells – things that are to the left of center. Foster the People has become a little bit more mainstream, but I’ve seen a lot of things like Sleigh Bells, or folk pop like Mumford & Sons and The Avett Brothers. It’s opened the door for less pop radio-type bands. Even on a show like Vampire Diaries, for a bar source, they’re going to choose something that’s really cool as opposed to something straight-ahead pop rock that would be playing at a normal bar.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

A lot of groups get placements, and then from there, they mess it up. I tell every band I talk to, “If you’re lucky enough to get a placement, make sure everyone you know can find you online.” And still, a lot of bands don’t have a website or just can’t be found online. What should bands do to promote themselves once they get a placement?

 

TP:

 

Certainly, having a website is useful. And having the song that got placed available and on your website is important. A lot of times we get songs that are so new, they haven’t even been put up on a band’s website yet. I can’t always let an artist know more than a week in advance that their song is going to air. So, it’s more important for them that the instant they start distributing the track, they have it on iTunes or on their website. Because, they’re not always going to have enough time to get it up everywhere after they’ve been informed of a placement. And a lot of services won’t even let an artist know that a placement has occurred. It’s the quarter after, when they get a royalty statement, that they find out they’ve had something placed. It’s better to be proactive; as soon as you know your music is being pitched for placement, you should get it up.

 

The other thing is, if you know beforehand that your music is going to air, immediately get an email out to your fan base. I’m sure if you have a website, you have a mailing list. Get an email out so fans can tune into the show, or go see the feature film your music is in.

 

And afterwards, it’s great to contact your local press. I mean, who would’ve thought The Elliots would get that kind of local press coverage that helped other artists as well? You can get local coverage. And then your fan base and other people can hear about you.

 

And there are also some resources you can useful to an artist. When a show uses a piece of music, a lot of networks will put links to the artist’s web page or the iTunes page. But, there are services, like Tunefind.com where viewers can find out what songs were used in their favorite shows.  It’s a little service that lists all the shows and the music they use. And I think anyone can contribute. So, if you know your song was used in a show, and it’s not listed or the music supervisor didn’t provide a list of the tracks, you can submit to them and say, “My track was used, and here’s the information.” And I think you can listen to the track from that site and link it to iTunes. That’s one service that does that.

 

A lot of it is being proactive. But I don’t know one thing artists have done specifically that has really worked across the board, other than what I just mentioned. Because once I get an artist a placement, that’s the end of the line for me. I’m back to pitching.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

Do you have any parting words of advice for artists when it comes to music licensing and getting their songs placed?

 

TP:

 

Be as knowledgeable as you can about music licensing. A lot of times we’ll find the artist doesn’t even know what they’re signing. And it’s because they don’t understand the language and what’s the difference between a master right and a composition right, or what we call in the industry a synchronization right. On our website, you can come in as an artist, and there’s a Music 101 page that gives you answers to a lot of the major questions:  What’s a derivative copyright? What’s a public domain track? What are licenses? What’s a master and what’s synchronization?

 

As an artist, you need to educate yourself. It’s not just as easy as, “I’m going to submit my music for film and TV licensing.” Just because there are all these services and opportunities, that doesn’t mean you know what you’re doing. You really need to understand what you’re getting yourself into. The only way to do that is taking seminars, going to conventions, reading up on this kind of stuff – there are tons of books and websites that offer information.

 

To learn more about Tanvi Patel and the work she does, and to learn how to submit music as an artist, visit the Crucial Music website. Also, check out The Elliots, a Swedish band that has worked with Crucial and has had music placed in shows like Melrose Place, Moonlight, Kyle XY, Close to Home and Vampire Diaries.

Music Placement in Film and TV

Posted By Rick Goetz on August 9th, 2011

William Richter is the co-founder, along with Daniel Lessner, of Skanda Music, a music production house. Their collaboration has resulted in a catalog of over 1,200 tracks for feature films, sports, television and commercials. Will got his start in the music industry after graduating from Berklee College of Music, where he studied Music Composition and Film Scoring. From 1995-2002, he wrote scores for many TV movies and independent films. He eventually began producing music for commercials, and won several CLIO Awards for his work. His music can be heard in over 100 theatrical trailers and international commercials. He started Skanda Music in 2006.

 

 

I recently got to sit down with Will and talk about how he got started in the industry, the process of building and marketing such a large catalog of music and some advice he has for artists that want to get their music placed in film and television.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me, Will. How did you end up in the music business?

 

WR:

 

After I finished high school, I went to the Berklee College of Music. There I mostly studied composition. And when I got out of school in 1996, I would say that was the first time music was starting to really be affected by computers. I was fortunate enough to know the computer program Finale. So, my first gigs were all working in music preparation. That was a great training ground. Every day I was able to see orchestras recording on stages out here in L.A. – guys like Danny Elfman, John Williams and Basil Poledouris all doing their thing at Sony and Fox. I got a sense of how those guys dealt with producers and directors to deliver film scores. This led to some of my own work. I was scoring for TV movies and independent films. From about 1995-2002, I was doing a lot of work in those fields.

 

Then I had an abrupt turn. I started doing work more in commercials. I was offered some work from a commercial house that was based in both New York and L.A. It’s a very full-time pursuit to deliver on the schedule that those houses demand. It shifted me away from doing a lot of film work into doing commercial work. In that field I did work for a lot of big, heavy-hitter clients and won a bunch of CLIO awards. I stayed with them from about 2002-2007.

 

At that time, I had another little independent venture going that was suddenly coming to fruition. In 2004, I had started working with another composer friend, and we started putting out independent tracks that the publishers were using to try to find work in trailers and on television. We started seeing some good returns back from that investment. Those things were starting to take off.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

So, you just put together a teaser library that eventually got you better work?

 

WR:

 

Yeah. With all the commercial work, it was the sort of thing where it was great money and great business. I was happy with all that, but I wanted to do independent music too. These recordings of independent tracks that I’d do on my own or that I do with my partner Daniel now for Skanda Music started to take off. We had a number of really good placements and it was the sort of thing where I could leave commercials and start working independently to produce library tracks that were getting good work.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

That’s great. Is that where your business is today?

 

WR:


Absolutely. If you go to our website, you’ll see that in the last month alone, we’ve had placements for Showtime and HBO. We also did a big campaign for the History Channel when they launched their new high def network. One of our tracks became their promo piece to announce that. We’ve had some pieces that have gone in trailers. Every day it’s a different thing. We never know which place we’re going to land in. But we have a very steady line with about three publishers that we cater our tracks to that have been getting all this kind of work I’ve been describing.

 

Our music is big, dramatic overtures. It’s John Williams meets Hans Zimmer kind of  drama music with big orchestras.

 

Musician Coaching:


Speaking of Hans Zimmer, I’ve heard that when you see his name on a piece of music, it’s actually him and 50 other musicians, including yourself from time to  time.

 

WR:

 

Yes. To be perfectly honest, his method of doing things is certainly to have a number of guys that are working. My personal involvement has been down the chain from what he’s doing. He has his own team of guys he works with. So, what you’re saying is true. There are several bits of music I’ve done where I’ve worked with one of his guys – a guy named Michael Levine. I worked with him on a number of cues on the side. But that type of work hasn’t been the main focus of what I’ve been doing.

 

Musician Coaching:


Right. I just thought that was interesting. It’s certainly a great name to be affiliated with.

 

WR:

 

Yeah. I did work with him on Matchstick Men and Black Hawk Down. Those were the credit pieces I got that were with Remote Control Studios, which is his whole operation. Most of what I’ve been doing is something that’s been independent, and my own thing.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

I understand. It sounds like you’ve come to a place where you’re able to wake up in the morning and make music. And you have relationships in place where you have people out there pitching it and getting it placed. That’s where a lot of people dream of being. But most people wind up starting by having to pitch their own music. What are some best practices for getting music placed?

 

WR:

 

We focus mostly on trying to have our own unique sound. We found that has led to relationships with both producers and editors that we regularly have a line of communication with. As an example, about a year ago we sold that track to the History Channel. We tracked down the editor and said, “Thanks so much for placing us in what you’re doing. Here’s the latest of what we’ve been doing.” And we sent them our newsletter. And those guys have gone out and are finding further work for our tracks in a number of other History Channel shows. We try to listen to what they are in need of and provide a little bit of what people are asking for while still sticking to the dramatic tone of our tracks.

 

Musician Coaching:


There are so many Berklee grads I know who wind up doing five-second licks and selling a guitar to someone at Sam Ash. What about you, your music and your pitches has made you succeed where a lot of other people did not?

 

WR:

 

I think a lot of my own music reflects honestly what I see out there as an artist and my philosophy about life. My tracks are not always universal. They have a very specific moment where they will be needed. But when it’s that moment, it’s something special. I think there’s a no-holds-barred approach with our music. We really go for something that is both intellectually and emotionally satisfying. It’s quite a lot to swallow at any given moment. But when it’s time to really push the envelope, we’re right there.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

What about on the business side? Clearly you’ve done something right when it comes to marketing yourself and building relationships.

 

WR:

 

“Always under promise and over deliver.” It’s basically that. It’s the sort of thing where I know in order to deliver something that really sounds great, it’s never good to have the deadline in your head. I remain ambiguous about when I’m going to deliver it. And when something is actually done and artistically at the point where I think it’s at its best, then it’s time to go and offer it to a client, put it on the market and try to go with it. I think a lot of times publishers will say, “We’re looking to release our next ‘action’ music CD in the fall.” And I’ll think, “Yeah. Sure. But that doesn’t mean I’ll have my best ‘action’ work done by then. We take the very best music and try to do it on our own time and our own schedule. Then, when it’s ready, they get it.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

You’re clearly in a place where a lot of these relationships are thriving. A lot of the people who approach me are people who are just trying to get started in the music industry. Obviously the music has to be great. But from a business perspective, if you’re thinking back on the experience of making your first set of contacts, what advice do you have for people in terms of just finding someone that will be receptive to their work?

 

WR:

 

When I first began, I remember it was the industry practice that most of the publishers or licensing houses were offering was a 50/50 split of publishing rights. That’s a very good rate to start with. These people are going to put some time forward and try to get your music marketed. It’s a great place to get your first few shots. I personally waited a little too long to renegotiate; somewhere in the range of four or five years in I was still taking that cut with some of these publishers. And I didn’t even realize it was the sort of thing you can renegotiate. After a while, you can go in and say, “You’ve made more money with us. Now our share should be greater.” I think my advice would be just to be aware where a good starting place is and then where to go from there. And that was my own mistake. I spent a couple years in that transition window and then suddenly realized I needed to make a change when the BMI statements were coming in. I didn’t really think that much of it until someone told me I could ask for a bit more.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

You’ve mentioned working with multiple publishers. Do you have a publishing deal in place?

 

WR:


Yes. My partner and I work with three different publishing houses. I use different publishers for different types of tracks, because each one is good at marketing and selling a different kind of music. We take whatever tracks we have and try to get them with the best publisher who seems to have the right place to put them.

 

Musician Coaching: 

 

I know you’re doing music that’s very orchestral – music that’s well arranged and uses multiple instruments. It’s very different from music made by four dudes in flannel shirts. Most people have one publishing deal and then are stuck relying on that film and TV placement house. Do you still own all of your own publishing and then just strike administration deals? How does that work?

 

WR:

 

Sometimes we take deals with these different companies and are actually being hired on commission. They say, “We want X percentage.” We show some early sketches of what we’re working on, they show an interest, and then we strike up a deal from there. Other times it’s a track that has been completed, we sign a deal with someone for a year or two, and after that time, those guys haven’t done anything with it. So, we pick it up, move it over, play it for someone else and try to move it around a little bit.

 

Musician Coaching:


The reason I’m pausing on it so much is because I come mostly from a straight rock ‘n’ roll background. And in that world, you did a deal with one publisher, and that was it. But it seems like that’s never how it has worked for you, which is great.

 

WR:

 

I work with one other guy closely. Skanda is half myself and half another guy named Dan Lessner. Both of us had our own relationships with our own publishers when we started working together. And he’s ASCAP, I’m BMI. That’s great, because we can use the both sides to work to our advantage. That’s been the attitude we’ve independently maintained:  Nobody owns us. We’re going to do our track, we’re going to see who is selling what where, and put what we have in the right place at the right time. The catalog we have is somewhere around 1,200 tracks. We like to promote our biggest, grandest things and put them forward on our site. But we also have hundreds of background cues that work in reality television and similar places.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

And quite literally, you built this network of contacts one by one and by over promising and under delivering, as you stated.

 

WR:

 

That’s what we’ve tried to do. Absolutely. The other part of this is what I was describing before:  Any time we find we’ve gotten a placement, we do a little bit of Googling and some IMDB’ing and send a follow-up to the editor saying, “Thanks for placing us. Here’s our catalog and here’s what we do.” We function independently and try to nurture those relationships in that way.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

Similarly, I’m sure if you felt like you had something for a given show or movie, but you didn’t have a relationship with anyone attached to it, you could go in on a cold call as well.

 

WR:

 

Yes. For example, we make a habit of calling the sports teams each season. We have had music that has been used both as sports shows’ themes and as the bumper for teams in the NBA and for Major League Baseball – for the Tampa Bay Rays, Phoenix Suns, St. Louis Cardinals. Every year, we call all the teams and send them our press update kit. Every season there’s at least one bite that makes the few days we spend on the campaign every year trying to reach all these people and sell them our music worth it.

 

Musician Coaching:


What would you tell someone who was just starting out in music to be careful of?

 

WR:

 

These days, it’s such a competitive industry. It’s so hard. There are so many things to think about. I would say the biggest would be to try to be wary of catering to the industry too much. Be true to your own artistry and really capture that within your music and have the confidence to sell it in that way. Dan and I get together and are good at inspiring each other in that way. And we try to capture that spirit of encouraging each other in the music. You should do whatever it takes to make you strong in that way and able to take on the whole industry.

 

To learn more about William Richter and his work, you can visit the Skanda Music website.

More about Touring and Music Placement

Posted By Rick Goetz on June 29th, 2010

Josh Zandman is the CEO and founder of the music licensing company Song and Film.  He is also a writer, producer and a musician.  Prior to starting Song and Film Josh was signed to  A&M / Interscope records as the keyboard player of the band Burlap To Cashmere.

Music Consultant:

Josh, thanks for taking the time to speak with me today.  Before we get into what you are doing now tell me what it was like for you as a major label recording artist?

JZ:

They wanted us to basically have a grassroots following because of the genre of the music, so we toured over 300 days a year.  We were constantly on the road for five years.  Even when we got a tour bus, we were showering in truck stops.  If we were lucky enough to get one hotel room, and sometimes there were bloodstains on the sheets. We stayed in crappy places. We always would say, “We’re living the dream.” Even when we were playing for 10,000 people, it could be rough.

Music Consultant:

Many people just don’t really realize just what constant touring entails.

JZ:

The experience is and was incredible. I always say the prize is an empty box, but it’s all about the journey, especially in the music industry. There’s usually nothing to hold on to but the people you meet and the music itself – that’s what it’s about.

Music Consultant:

There aren’t a lot of artists that do 300 days per year.  Today, very few people have tour support and DIY is the rule not the exception.  Most people gig doing the weekend warrior thing with three-day weekends if they’re lucky and it seems that almost everywhere you go audiences are as jaded as they are in New York and Los Angeles.

JZ:

When we started, it wasn’t like that. We started in late 1995. The digital stuff wasn’t as popular as it was now.

Music Consultant:

It was also a very different economy.  People had some spare money too.

JZ:

Exactly. We would book ourselves initially. We started out slow. Then we got picked up by PGA when PGA was booking REM and others. Our conga player wanted to be on the road all the time, so he would say, “Put us out.” And he just booked us. When you’re playing for the Christian industry there are so many shows. It’s very supportive from the fans. There are endless numbers of shows. Of course, you’re not playing every day. Back then we were saying we shouldn’t be playing all these shows and just be doing the big ones so we could concentrate on writing and radio, which I think we’d still be together if that had been the case.

Music Consultant:

You did this for five years- what would you have done differently had you had all that experience when you started out?

JZ:

You need a leader in the band. You need somebody to make final decisions, and we didn’t have that. We had seven people all complaining, and nobody was making decisions. Also, the best thing to do is if you’re a writer in a band and living together and working together, you need to give some of that publishing to the other guys. Because otherwise in our situation, the writer was making all the money, and we never made anything except towards the end, when made a little bit. But when you’re making $20,000 per show playing for 10,000-40,000 people and not making anything because it’s going all back into tour support, you wonder why you’re doing it. You look at bands today that have been around for 20-30 years and they split the publishing. They’re all considered writers, and that’s why they’re together. They’re all making money and all happy and having fun.  I also would have made different choices regarding our management.

Music Consultant:

So the band split up- then what happened?

JZ:

I left the band and was in a crappy apartment.  I couldn’t afford rent in Jersey. I had done a demo of a song called Beautiful out in Nashville. It was just a demo, and I did it for free with a guy named Rick Elias, who has had some really big songs on albums in the Christian industry. I sat on that song for a year and didn’t do anything with it until that website Demo Diaries was up and running and popular. I e-mailed Gary there and said, “This song has a Dawson’s Creek kind of feel. Can you put it on your site?” At the time A&R execs would contact you if they liked it when you were posted on that site.  Gary asked me “Was this ever on Dawson’s Creek, and do you want it on?” When I said “Not it hasn’t” and “yes please” he told me to e-mail this girl who was the editor to the show and to say that I was recommended by him, and she said, “Thanks, I love it.”

No joke, a week later the music supervisor said, “I need a song for the closing scene in this episode.” And she said, “I just got the perfect song.” Two weeks later, this song was on one of the biggest shows on TV at the time. I was floored. I had been ready to give up on music, and then that happened. Then I tried to get publishing companies to help, but there were no companies out there like Film and Song that pushed songs to TV and film. There were only publishing companies. Nobody would push my stuff. I decided to do it myself and started Song and Film as a tips sheet like Demo Diaries to gain contacts for myself. So I would find bands I thought were awesome and put it up on the site with their contact info. I wasn’t doing it for the money. I was just trying to gain relationships with people. What happened was, in the first two  weeks I had the Vice President of Fox Music pick four bands for two pilots coming out. I didn’t know what to do, so I just told him to contact them. Within four months I became known in the music industry because I was doing something different. Putting links in e-mails to music was something nobody was doing at the time. People were excited to be able to just click and listen. That gained a lot of attention. That was seven years ago. Since then, we’ve tried different things, and it has become what it is now. During that process I also wound up playing piano for Kanye West on his first album, which was fun.    

Music Consultant:

You’ve gotten music placed on Dawson’s Creek, you’ve started Song and Film. What other victories have you had for your music and other people’s music?

JZ:

That was just the first thing that happened. During that time I also signed with Cherry Lane Publishing. So I had songs I wrote with them that were placed in movies, and I was writing with people. What happened with Song and Film was that I got more excited about other people’s music, so I never even pushed my own. We have over 300 major placements in A-List movies, from Epic Movie to movies with George Clooney, Patrick Swayze along with national and regional commercials, iPhone and iPad games, indie films, corporate CDs. We work with anything or anyone that licenses music, we’ve had great success.

Music Consultant:

When people ask me “How do I get my stuff into film and TV?”  I never have a clear cut answer except that doing so is a full time job.  What I try to explain is that when you’re calling up and say, “Hey, I’m an artist and I have three albums worth and they generally sound like this,” anybody on the phone is generally listening and thinking, “Okay, great, but I’ve got Sony on the other line and they have all of Western music. Can you hold?”  Was the idea to work with more music than just your own a strategy to build a bigger catalogue so you could have more conversation currency with these people?

JZ:

Honestly, I wasn’t even thinking that. All I was thinking of was, “One day I want to be a music supervisor, and in order to do that, I need to get music placements.” I thought that at the time, but now I realize it’s just who you know to be a music supervisor. At the time I wanted to build relationships and placements. When I would find a band, all I was going off was my passion for music. That’s it. I get very excited when I hear a new song, and it really excites me and I want to do something with it. This was the vehicle by which to do it. And that was my passion – to play stuff in TV and film. So for me it was, “I love this song and want to send it to these people.” I think it’s your passion and desire that fuel that whole process. It just took off from there. I built up relationships over the years, and everyone was saying, “Wow, these guys are sending me incredible music, and they’re nice. They’re not hard to deal with, and they are simple.”

Music Consultant:

What kind of deals do you do with artists?  Exclusive vs. Non Exclusive etc etc… ?

JZ:

We have two different deals. We opened a publishing company called Snow Jacket. It’s basically still Song and Film, but Snow Jacket is under the same umbrella. We’re only signing single song deals, and we’re doing more of a campaign-style push to break the artist, an that’s brand new.

Music Consultant:

Elaborate on campaign style.

JZ:

Campaign style is basically that Song and Film runs as a library. Usually leads come in and we say, “Yes, I have this song” and we send it. Campaign style is, “Okay, I have this song, and this band is touring, and we want to help break this artist into the music industry.” So we try to get them high-level placement, promotion, anything that can promote them like crazy by getting links on websites or spots on TV where it mentions their CD is available on iTunes. We do anything we can do to help break the artist. And we pull in our favors from all our clients to say, “Hey, we want your help in breaking this artist and want you to be part of their success as well.” That’s basically the campaign style theory. It’s more that we’re managing a song.

Music Consultant:

I was a player, but I was never much of a writer. What do you recommend in light of the fact that there are so many placement agencies that are non-exclusive, and you have to worry about people going out and signing up for 15 of these things and that pissing off supervisors because they’re getting pitched with 15 re-titled songs from 15 different people? You now have seven years worth of experience on almost every side of the film and TV placement and scoring, and you’re fortunate enough to have a publishing company doing your placement for your own material. What would you recommend for someone that wants to get songs placed?

JZ:

What I would recommend is not going with a bunch of different companies. And I tell that to artists when they sign up with us. We have a non-exclusive deal as well. We take 50% of the licensing fee, and that’s it.  If you work with multiple houses the music supervisors can say, “Who do I give this licensing fee to, because I got the same song from two different pushers?” They hate that because they lose their relationships with one of those people. So, don’t go with all these different people. Find a company that can showcase all their placements. On our site we put up all our placements because we have nothing to hide. We say, “This is what we do. We have nothing to hide. If you like it, great. If not, this is what we do.” And also, do research on the people that run the company. Google them and do tons of research because you want to be working with somebody that is enthusiastic and passionate about what you’re doing. I hear so many stories from artists that their song has been sitting in the place for so long and not doing anything.

Music Consultant:

Frankly, that’s the rule and no the exception.  Artists sign up their music with a library or five libraries and more often than not they never hear back at all.

JZ:

Yes, exactly. And that’s the problem. These people are just trying to gain a huge catalogue. It’s like a mission that you’re going to get so many songs. We only have 40 artists. We’re very selective about who we pick and what songs we pick. We have actual friendships with all the artists rather than them just being clients. They call us up for advice on other stuff, and we encourage them all the time. That’s what it should be like. It’s exciting and is supposed to be fun.

Music Consultant:

I find that when working with some of the larger catalogues, now you don’t have to work the music supervisors but you have to work the person that has your song because they forget what they own they have such a large catalogue.

JZ:

Here’s the funny thing. When I first started this, there was nobody in TV and film. Now TV and film has become really popular. Artists became aware of it and now these startup companies are just all over the place and saturating all these people. But it’s all about the relationships, and they’re learning that. They’re here, and then they’re gone, because they don’t have relationships with the supervisors.

That’s where our relationship building comes into play. After seven years, they can’t forget us because we’re on their short list. When a new movie comes out, we’re one of the few companies that are notified of the lead. All these other companies are chasing it, and we’re just getting them handed to us now, which is awesome. It takes a lot of work to get there, and it doesn’t mean we limit ourselves to just that. We go out and get new clients all the time.

Music Consultant:

I know talent and writing a great song and all that is kind of an X Factor, and it might seem a little ridiculous to reverse engineer this process, but I remember that when I was doing campaigns on the agency side, certain themes kept coming up, so everybody wanted “Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles or “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves. If you had a song about sunshine, you had a shot at getting heard because of the thematic element. Are there artists or themes or things that reoccur?

JZ:

Definitely. And you said it. “Sunshine” or the word “shine.” If you put it in and make it positive and generic so it can be used in a million ways, you’re golden. It’s amazing how much they’ll get placed. And then if you do anthematic-type choruses. We’re working with a song right now called “Believe.” And the message is “you gotta believe.” It can be used in so many different things. Don’t tell a story. Stories rarely get placed. You have to fit the story they already have.

Music Consultant:

I did an interview with Bill Meadows – a supervisor with Crispin Porter, and he told me a majority of the things he placed were instrumental. Do you find that to be true as well?

JZ:

We do place instrumental stuff, but not as much with what we work on. Bill Meadows works on TV commercials, and they use instrumentals more than the stuff we work on as far as movies and TV shows where they are trying to get a specific message across and need a lyric to support that. We have a deal with MTV and place hundreds and hundreds of songs with them for artists. And they use tons of instrumentals for background because they use so much music. It’s typically more lyric based.

Music Consultant:

It’s still handy for musicians to have their instrumentals and stems handy though, correct?

JZ:

Yes. Definitely. Always have your instrumental ready and if possible the stem of the whole song.

Music Consultant:

Any other thoughts in closing or stuff we didn’t cover?

JZ:

The best advice I love to tell artists is when you’re submitting to a company to push your songs, don’t write a story about yourself in an e-mail and read the instructions on the site. I say, “Send me an mp3. If we like it, we’ll get back to you.” And I get ten mp3s in an e-mail or links to all these different places like Sound Cloud. I just delete them now because I’m too busy. An mp3 is the easiest way. Make the e-mail as short as possible. Introduce yourself and let your music speak for itself. You don’t have to try to sell me in an e-mail. A song is a song, and the song is what sells.

Music Consultant:

What do you want to hear from someone that approaches you cold?  Do you want them to give you ideas of how it should be used?  Do you need to hear about the artist’s accomplishments? What gets your attention?

JZ:

Definitely don’t say what it could be used for, because you want the person listening to it to make that decision. When I hear it, I know my clients and what I work on. Introduce yourself and mention your placements or deals or that you’re touring. Send three sentences. Don’t tell me you have 50 songs in your catalogue. That’s the worst, because I know I’m going to have to go listen to them if we work together. Just say, “Here’s an mp3” or send a direct link to your Myspace. Don’t link to your website where I have to go and click “music” and then go find it. The simpler you make it, the better it is. Just “Hi, my name is John and I’ve had a few placements on TV. Here’s a song I think you’ll like.”

Music Consultant:

Are you in fact looking for something that’s off the radar, or are you looking for someone with key performance indicators?

JZ:

It definitely makes a difference.  It is worth mentioning if you are doing something notable and not just playing boring coffee shops. If you’re touring right now, it will grab my attention, because a lot of music supervisors want to help break a band. And we get requests sometimes saying, “Is there a band from New York right now that’s doing well? We want to place them in this show.” They’ll request a certain band from a certain area. It doesn’t happen often but it does happen. It’s eye candy. Mention a cool little couple things you’re doing. It doesn’t matter, but it’s subconscious. I think, “Oh cool. This is a working musician and someone that is doing stuff.” And then when you listen to a song, that’s subconsciously in the back of your head. It’s all about the song no matter what. But if it’s a short e-mail, I know who I am contacting and how to talk to the person. I don’t have to figure out how to start the conversation.

——-

Learn more about Josh and Song and Film