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10 ways to get your music into film and TV

10 ways to get your music into film and TV
download “10 ways to get your music into film and TV” (60kb PDF)

via www.filmmusicmag.com

There is one basic fact about the film and television music industry that drives much of what you will read in this guide: it is a very, very competitive business and there are many more songs and instrumental music pieces than there are openings and places to use them in film and television. In Los Angeles on any given day, hundreds, maybe thousands of people are marketing their music for film and television productions. This guide is designed to show you how you can successfully compete in this industry, whether you live in Los Angeles, New York, or in a small country town far removed from the major music cities.

Location, Location, Location! The tried but true real estate mantra is definitely applicable to the film and television music business. A simple fact: being in LA or NY can make it easier to compete for work. While film and television shooting locations can be found worldwide, the infrastructure for post production, which includes music, is still centered in Los Angeles. Although this is changing rapidly as cheap digital editing equipment becomes available in other cities, in film work, the city that the director resides in can also be a major factor in underscore work.

It’s useful to note that song placement is much less location-oriented than score composing. Score composing requires a weeks-long cycle where it can be very helpful if the director and composer are in close physical proximity so demos can be heard. Song placement is much more easily done from locations outside of LA since once the director or music supervisor decide they want to use a song, the physical location of the songwriter is not that important.

That much being said, if you’re in LA or New York, make the most of it and seek out personal relationships with people in the business. Film directors, television producers, and music supervisors are among the most important people you can meet in terms of getting your music into film and television projects. By putting a face with a name,” you can increase the chances of your music being heard.

If you’re not in LA or New York, then you may have to work a bit harder to get “noticed” and get your music listened to. In this case, it may be valuable to position yourself as a newcomer, with fresh and interesting music for film and television productions. Especially if you’re looking for work as a score composer, it’s vital that directors be able to communicate with you as easily as if you were located next door. Make sure your email, fax, and voicemail services are in place and indicate a professional presence. Some composers who live outside of LA have toll free numbers or “rent” LA phone numbers through an answering service in the 310, 213 or 818 area codes to make local communications easy for clients and prospects. In no way is it recommended that you avoid being honest about the fact that you live out of town, but it may be advisable to establish whatever kind of local presence that you can, especially given today’s communications technology possibilities.

  1. The Direct Approach: Filmmakers
    • Use as many resources as you can to locate projects that you believe your music would
      be well-suited for.
    • Once you’ve identified projects that you’re interested in, find the right people to approach
      for those projects. Hint: Dig deep to find out who the real decision makers may be for music
    • Examine your existing network of friends, acquaintances, and professional relationships
      to determine if there are any existing relationships that may be helpful when introducing
      yourself to your prospects.
    • Approach your targets with knowledge about their current and past projects, express a
      high degree of informed interest in their current project (the one you’ve targeted) and
      request permission to submit your music.
    • Follow up with those who you send your music to and determine their response to you
      and your music.
  2. Music Supervisors
    • Identify a project that you’re interested in. You can use any of the usual sources for
      this, including the entertainment trade magazines (Hollywood Reporter, Variety) or
      any number of online sources that keep databases of projects in process.
    • Call the production company and find out if there is a Music Supervisor attached to the project. Usually this information is fairly easy to get, but occasionally you may have to do some “digging” and contact multiple people from the production company to determine the music supervisor situation. Hint: production company phone numbers are located in the trade magazines, but a handy book that lists many of them that can be very useful is the Hollywood Creative Directory
    • If there is no Music Supervisor attached to the project, you may want to contact the director, or wait until the project has advanced to the point that there is a Music Supervisor attached or the director is ready to listen to music.
    • Once you do get the name of the Music Supervisor, locate their phone number if you don’t already have it from the production company, and call the Music Supervisor. The key data to get is: what type of music are they looking for production “X”? Getting this may be a simple as introducing yourself, then noting that you are aware that they’re working on production “X,” and then asking if they’re looking for music and if so, for what type.
    • If you have music that’s appropriate, ask politely if you could submit it to the Music Supervisor. Be very polite, but firm. A key element is to be positive and enthusiastic about how you can fulfill their need. However, make sure your enthusiasm is seen as being directed towards filling their need, not about how “great” your music is”
    • If you are having trouble getting permission to send your music in connection with a specific project, you may want to try the “mentor” approach. It’s not as direct and businesslike as a direct submission for a project, but it’s been known to work in some cases. It consists of a change in tactics; if they won’t let you submit on a project, then ask them if they would at least be willing to listen to your music and share with you their thoughts about the music once they’ve heard it. You can
      emphasize how much you value their opinion, with their “years of experience,” etc.
  3. Music Editors
    • When a Music Editor is working on a project, he/she often has to work long hours and doesn’t have a lot of time for meeting new folks. Therefore, consider using a “relationship” approach rather than approaching a Music Editor for a specific project as you might do with a Music Supervisor.
    • Get a list of Music Editors (again, the Film & TV Music Guide available at the Film Music Store at www.filmmusicstore.com can be helpful here) and choose an Ten Ways To Get Your Music Into Film and Television Productions assortment of them to begin with. Call first, and ask if you could send them some samples of your music. If this works, great. If not, you might want to try sending postcards to them first at the conclusion of each project you do perhaps monthly. The postcards might say something as simple as “Composer Joe Smith has just completed the score for GOING HOME for the CBS Television Network” or something like that. Then, try calling the Music Editors after they’ve received a few postcards and may be familiar with your name.
    • Once you have struck up a relationship with a Music Editor, find ways to send more
      and more of your material always send it on CD so it’s ready to be used in a temp
      track, and always mark the CDs with your name and phone number.
  4. Work Your Network
    • Working your network means utilizing relationships and acquaintances you already have to work your way into a film or television project. The key piece of data you should remember here is that there are many, many different doors into a film project. Some are obvious, like getting to know the director or music supervisor. But other ways are much less obvious, like
      getting to know the 3rd Assistant Director who happens to be a friend of the guy you play racquetball with once a month”
    • To successfully work your network, you need to assess everyone you know who might know someone (who might know someone) in the “business” the entertainment business, that is. Use your existing relationships and acquaintances to get an introduction to someone working on the film you want to get your music into even if that “someone” is a grip (grip a
      worker who helps with physical labor on the set). You never know when that grip might be having lunch with the director or assistant director and mention this “great composer” he knows, and you know what happens after that”
  5. Film Editors: A film’s editor is the person who edits (or “cuts”) the film for the director. Why are you
    interested in this person? Simple:

    1. The editor is the person who works most closely with the director for most of the post
      production process. The filmmaker will look to the editor for references and
      suggestions, and editors can certainly be involved in suggesting composers and
      songwriters.
    2. The editor can be the person who creates the temp music track on some films (see #3 Music Editors for more information on temp tracks). For the same reasons as listed in the Music Editor section, it’s great to be known and liked by film editors.
    3. The editor is usually hired long before music is ever considered. Getting introduced to a project early on can mean a huge difference for a composer or songwriter, as early music needs can be handled and there is all that much more time to build the relationships you want with the music supervisor and director.
  6. Studio Music Executives
    1. Find out who the executives are many industry guides list these people. Develop a “target list” of execs you want to know your name. Consider including those who work with the big studios and those who work with smaller studios select a nice cross-section.
    2. Use the relationship approach try calling the exec and introducing yourself, then ask if you could send along a demo to acquaint him/her with your music. Usually, they’ll say “yes,” but whether they will actually listen to the demo is another question. The important result of this step is to get a “yes” to your request to send them a demo package.
    3. Send the demo package, and make sure to write on the outside of the envelope: REQUESTED MATERIALS. This will help the package not get dumped at the mailroom as “unsolicited” as many packages are, unfortunately!
    4. Follow up with a call in 10 days to 2 weeks and see if the exec has been able to listen to your materials. If not, try back in another 10 days or so, and thank the exec for his/her time. Don’t push too hard at this step….
  • Get an Agent…
  • Music Libraries…
  • Being In The Right Place at the Right Time…
  • Download the PDF to read the whole article!