Suggestions For The Musician
- Your music cannot be too specific - Songs with names, dates, or places are usually the first skipped over. Your music should be a bit more general/specific and be able to cover a broad range of subjects. General/Specific means that you can write a song about a cheating lover (general/specific) but not mention any names, dates, places or very specific situations. There are times when a song can be placed that is very specific but the more general the concept, the more opportunities your music can pull in.
- Diversity helps - People that license music aren't looking for you to break the mold or come out with the next hit song. Tracks should be diverse. There are over 8 million stories that can be told. How many of them can you write about?
- Write with purpose - Your songs should be written for a purpose. You should be asking yourself where do you see this song being placed if it does get licensed? In a commercial, for what brand? In a movie as background, soundtrack, or theme music? In a video game of what type, a shooter/adventure/sports/action/puzzle/etc? On a Tv show? Maybe highlight reels? How about a web video or company slideshow? What about retail stores? There are plenty types of media where your music can be placed.
- Learn To Describe Your Music - Is it edgy, bouncy, aggressive, pensive, flaky, sexy, gothic, exciting, boring, angry, dull, tempered, etc? Is it hip hop (East Coast, West Coast, Gangster, Party, Dance..whatever), R&B, Soul, rock, reggae, new world, trance, trip hop, experimental, dub step, euro, folk, americana, alternative, etc? Figuring how to describe your music accurately almost puts a DNA like marker on your material. Music buyers need to reference those descriptions to quickly pinpoint music they feel best goes with their project. That doesn't mean they will pick your song, but descriptions help. I will be adding a new post very soon with an extreme list of words you can use to describe your music as a reference.
- Mixes and Breakdowns - Do you have clean versions of a song (clean words, not just editing the bad ones out) with explicit lyrics? Can you provide the song separated into a lyrics track and instrumental? Can you provide the track with just the hook and instrumental, or maybe a clip of the song? Is the song mixed properly? It doesn't have to be mastered but your mixes should be easy on the ears and people should be able to hear the proper balance of music and vocals.
- Songs with samples or derivative works from established artists are a no no - If your music is littered with samples I, for one, will not catalog it and most music buyers looking for indie music will not license it. Even if you have permission to use the sample chances are most music supervisors will not license it if they do not have the budget to cover the expenses.
- Try making cover songs - Cover songs are great ways to get placements. You don't need permission to create or even sell a cover song. You just need to know who wrote and published the song. You can remake an old song into something new if you wanted to. Many project managers or producers have a famous song in mind to use but do not want to pay the huge licensing fee that comes along with the artists who made the song so they look for cover songs. A good cover song can create an awesome fan base as well because the really famous songs already have huge amounts of listeners.
- Intellectual Property Rights - Who owns the rights to your music? This includes the master sound recording, the lyrics, and the composition (or instrumental). If you're already signed to a record label of any size or have an exclusive agreement with a music publisher, you may not own the rights to your music based on the terms of your contract. If you're in a band or group or have collaborated with other artists/songwriters then it helps to have all the particulars about who owns the rights to the song worked out. My catalog is focused strictly on indie music owned by the artist/musician and my exclusive tracks since I own all the rights to them.
- Prior obligations and agreements - In the case of bands or groups, do you have an agreement setup between you and other artists or writers involved with a particular song? You're agreement with others involved in your work should clearly state song rights, main representation (who acts on behalf of the group), and financial obligations. Once you sign the agreement with GFM, you are bound to those terms and conditions as well as any other artist signing that same agreement. If you are the only representative on the agreement then you must have your stipulations set up with other songwriters. I will not be obligated to act on their behalf financially or legally. This goes double and triple for agreements you have made with other music publishers and record labels. If you're locked in exclusively to a music publisher or record label, I wont offer you an agreement.
- Be Patient - This business may not move fast for lesser known musicians compared to established indie musicians, commercial artists, and the people searching for music. If you're just starting out, then you have to be patient. Like I said above there are no guarantees that your music will get placed at all. It depends on how your music is created, distributed, marketed, then there's timing, and the needs of the music buyer. Also, your publisher should have or be developing the type of relationships that can increase your opportunities of getting placed. If you are involved in non-exclusive agreements (like the one I give out), then find more publishers that can help you put your music out there to increase your chances of getting placement. Don't keep all of your eggs in one basket, as the saying goes.