One lucrative option for a steady side income and extra exposure is placing songs in TV shows or films, commonly referred to as sync licensing. You can be lucky and a TV producer contacts you based on the strength of the beat you uploaded to Instagram last week, but it’s rare… Having a game plan and all the pieces in place will greatly increase your chances in scoring placements in TV & movies.
Have a large and diverse collection of beats.
It’s no rocket science. The more beats you have available, the bigger your chances are that someone finds something suitable for their project. It’s like buying lottery tickets. Sure, the quality matters, but in general the person offering 50+ beats on their site is more likely to sell something than the person with 5 beats. Aside from the quantity, try to offer a variety of beats that might fit different scenarios. If you become the go-to drill trap producer for tv producers, congratulations! But most of the times they will look for more variety then one specific subgenre of music to score a show or movie.
Offer different sync licensing versions of your beat.
If you are serious about sync licensing, then go the extra mile and give the person on the other end what they need. Always think about the paying customer – what sort of music would they need for scoring a project for TV or a blockbuster movie. I would imagine they can hear your beat in their project better, if they can flip through these versions of your songs:
- The Instrumental. This is really just the minimum effort when it comes to sync licensing – strip out any vocals from your song. Vocals interfere with dialogue in the movie. Also in a movie you give the actor the chance to sing or rap over your beat instead of having to lip sync. If you’re just selling beats, then you’re pretty much done with this one, since it’s the product you are selling in the first place.
- The Vocal Mix. On the other hand, sometimes a movie or show needs a vocal mix, which can emphasize a particular feeling in the visuals. If you offer a vocal mix go for very generic lyrics – they work better for film and TV. Music is different – it should be personal, detailed and makes people feel a specific way. In licensing this might work against you though, because it’s hard to place specific lyrics. Also having curse words in the song probably makes it more problematic to play it in a family friendly show or movie. Keep that in mind!
- Another idea that worked quite well for me a few times is to create a mix of your song in a different mood. Sort of like a remix in a related but different style of music. If you produce trap, imagine hearing your beat running in the background of a scene where actors sit down to talk. Can you tone down the hard hitting parts of your beat to make it more mellow without sacrificing the core of the track? It’s really up to your imagination, how many and what type of versions you create. The more options you give the person, the better chances you have landing a deal.
Producing a tv show or movie is a stressful enough already, so if you can make things easier for the person on the other end, it will go a long way and increase your chances of licensing music. Besides having your own website, where you can showcase your music professionally with all the extra information a TV/movie producer would want to know, be sure to submit music to the following sites:
- pumpaudio.com & audiojungle.com are stock libraries for little projects, corporate videos, etc. They have quite a high bar for submission though.
- pond5.com is similar but the bar is a lot lower, anyone can submit here.
- crucialmusic.com features very specific kind of tracks and is very selective. Check out their site and see if your music would fit in
- taximusic.com is one of the best, and focussed options if you want to license beats to TV. It’s a bit pricey, but offers lots of opportunities, ads, films, commercials, etc. This is not for beginners, because you really need to have big catalog to make it worth it.
- musicxray.com is the beginner alternative to taximusic. You only pay for submissions, so with a small amount of beats, it’s cheaper.
Once you actually place your first beat, don’t be afraid to pitch more songs to same person. They like what they heard and you have an open communication line to them now. Ask them what else they need. If not for this project, see what’s coming up. Only send them stuff from your catalog that will fit best for their project.
Hope these recommendations shed some light on the topic of sync licensing. Placing your music in tv/film is a nice side income for you and gets you extra publicity and exposure. Go through your catalog and see what could fit on a show, create different versions and showcase them in the right places so people will see them.