They say that good things come in threes which is why Part 3 of our January Sync Resolutions is the last, but definitely not least, in the series. Last week we looked at finding sync licensing opportunities, so it probably makes sense to tackle pitching next.
Section 1: Choosing the right music
i) Brief-specific pitching
If you’re pitching in response to a brief, really think about whether the music you’re sending fits the bill. Do the lyrics fit without being too ‘on-the-nose’? Is it the right mood? If you know what brand / TV show / etc. it’s for then check out what they’ve used before – does your music fit in? (sites like TuneFind and Ad Break Anthems will help you find music used in existing TV shows / films / ads).
Being on-brief is so important. If you simply pitch your latest releases no one is going to take you seriously or bother to listen. This is why having a great metadata tagging system is so important – so you can search your catalogue properly.
ii) General pitching
If you’re sending music not specific to a brief, you still need to get specific. E.g. if you saw an episode of a show and thought your music would fit in really well, email the music supervisor / production company and tell them that they might be interested in your music for that show. Essentially it’s about tailoring your communications to fulfil a need that a music supervisor might have.
Look at trends, for example what kind of music is currently popular in gaming or advertising (check out this article), and what certain music supervisors have licensed before. If you’re a label or publisher why not send an introduction email with a few key details and some tracks that are representative of you. Get creative – think about sending mix tapes or something unusual, as long as you think it’s relevant and useful to the recipient.
Further details that may also interest music supervisors include:
- Blog exposure from reputable sources
- Radio airplay figures
- Notable live shows
- Previous syncs
Section 2: Pitching specifics
Things tend to move incredibly fast in the world of sync, so you’ve got to respond to briefs very quickly. You also need to be aware of the timing of your pitches. For example if you want to target the US market you need to be aware that TV music licensing mostly coincides with pilot seasons, and therefore most of it takes place in the summer to prepare for this. Use the resources mentioned in Part 2 to research when TV shows and films are in production and contact the right people accordingly.
ii) Tailoring your approach
Always be personable, polite, and friendly and ensure that you’re tailoring your approach to each individual. It’s incredibly obvious (and lazy) when you use an email template and only change the ‘To’ field.
iii) Sending the music
Each music supervisor / company will have their own unique preferences for receiving music and the formats they favour. As you build relationships you will learn what works for them, but in the meantime keep these things in mind when sending music via email:
- Enrich every digital file with correct metadata.
- Be 100% sure that the rights are all in place and cleared.
- Less is more: Don’t send 10 tracks when 3 will do. Don’t write an essay along with the tracks – keep it informative yet succinct.
- Submit music files of the highest quality (not 320 kbps mp3s!)
- Provide different versions: if you have instrumental versions always send these too, as well as WAVS, remixes, etc.
- Be flexible: You have might have to make changes to a track at short notice.
- Ensure that the tracks are mastered and produced to a high level.
- Don’t attach song files to emails. Instead provide links to stream and download via Box.com or similar.
- Remove all barriers to download. Don’t ask them to log in to download, chances are they won’t do it.
Section 3: Money and rights
i) Fees and deals
There are many types of deals out there – get yourself acquainted with the different kinds and the terminology involved (Check out BPI’s terminology list here). Fees are determined by a variety of factors such as the following:
- The nature of the use
- The production budget
- The ‘status’ of the song / artist
- The territory and term
- The usage of the song (e.g. end credits, background, etc.)
- How long it is played for
Make sure that you do not de-value your music. You might be able to negotiate higher fees depending on your bargaining position. Sync licensing is incredibly competitive and fees tend to be decreasing as a result of both this and declining media budgets. Be aware of these factors when considering a fee. There may be other benefits involved such as promotion and royalty earnings down the line.
Before you pitch a song you need to be 100% sure of which rights you own, and that both sides of the track are cleared for licensing. This can obviously be more complex for some tracks than others depending on how many parties and writers are involved. As we mentioned in Part 1, a “one-stop shop” is enormously attractive to music supervisors who often have to clear tracks at the eleventh hour. Be sure that all samples are also cleared.
Lastly, be patient and don’t expect immediate results or feedback. Sync is an extremely competitive market which requires hard work and persistence. If you follow our tips you may just improve your chances.