Bionik’s work has been featured in the Fast and Furious movie series, the Power Rangers movie, televisions shows Entourage and Sons of Anarchy, and many more. Here at MalLabel, we have had the pleasure of bringing you his Hypnotic Magnetism EP as well his sample pack. We are proud to present Bionik’s top 10 tips for getting your music into TV and Film.
Words: Stefon Taylor (Bionik)
People often ask me how to get their music licensed in T.V., movies and video games, so I thought I might take a minute to share some personal experiences that might help.
In the course of licensing hundreds of placements, there are some definite “dos” and “don’ts’ that I adhere to to increase the chances of my compositions being selected.
- Start by submitting only original, sample-free compositions. Covers, interpolations and samples will stop a prospective licensor in their tracks.
- Make sure your compositions sound complete, are mixed well and sufficiently loud. Note: I have heard many music supervisors say that all submissions should be mastered. However, If you are submitting something previously unreleased, or custom music for an opportunity with a deadline, getting it mastered can be unrealistic. Especially considering that you might have to supply multiple alternate versions or stems. If it is mixed well and your music is good, mastering won’t come up:)
- Only submit songs that you own or have permission to sign off on licenses for. Licensors are typically looking for “One Stop” shopping so they only have to get permission from one party and issue one contract. If everyone involved with the song has to sign off on a contract and be issued money separately, the licensor will likely look elsewhere.
- Make sure you have access to the sessions/files for any submitted music. Often, an opportunity depends on your ability to make changes or supply alternate versions of your track.
- Be flexible! Most licenses involve making changes to accommodate visual cues and fit within a scene or timeframe. Be open to the needs of your client. They will remember!
*Note: I know it can be hard to think of your musical creations as a “product”, but that is exactly what a prospective licensor or company is buying when they select one of your songs. This means that your product has to meet certain criteria in order for it to be used.
- Understand the terms of the license. Is it “non-exclusive”, where they have the right to use your composition, but you still own it? Is it a “work for hire”, where they own the composition in it’s entirety? What is your compensation? Is there further compensation for performance royalties? It is definitely worth it to have an attorney look at any contracts to protect your interest and help you understand the terms.
- Be prepared to wait 30-90 days (or longer) for any payment. As artists we often get paid after we complete our creations… licensing is no exception.
- Wait on telling your friends and family about the placement until you have been paid, or the movie with your song in it actually comes out. I’m speaking from personal experience. Edits and changes can occur right up until the last minute, and the scene with your music in it could end up on the cutting room floor before opening night.
- Use the placement to promote your music. Licensing is a great way to have literally millions of people hear your music. Promote your placement just like you would a single you released.
- After a successful placement, send the music supervisor more of your music. They often refer back to you if you were easy to deal with.
Sending music to music supervisors and licensors unsolicited has very little chance of ever being heard or considered. These opportunities often come to you as a result of previously released works. Music supervisors often find your music through their own musical tastes, music publishing databases and random searches based on content. For this reason I stress the importance of registering ALL of your compositions, solo or collaborative, with a PRO (performing rights organization) such as ASCAP, BMI or SESAC. This ensures that all the information regarding titles, credits and ownership are properly documented, and if there are any performance royalties from radio plays, T.V. and movies this is how you will get paid!
In addition, music with strong melodic/lyrical themes and concise concepts are more likely to be chosen. If you can’t tell what your song is about, or if it doesn’t evoke a specific feeling, it won’t compliment a visual counterpart and hence, won’t be considered.
For me I have found that the key to getting licenses is producing music for as many different artists as possible. More irons in the fire equals more opportunities.
Check out bionikmusic.com for more.