Creative Stalking for Sync ...when you don’t have access to briefs
Don’t have access to music supervisor briefs (an insider’s look into knowing what specific style or certain genre a music supervisor is looking for, for a scene) ? No worries….there are so many different ways to be in sync — writing instrumentals, underscores, trailers, ads, writing for other artists, collaborating…to name just a few.
You can make your catalog syncable by doing what’s called ‘creative stalking’. What does that mean? Not stalking music supervisors, but simply what it implies, researching and looking at the ‘creative’ (music) currently being placed by brands and shows.
Research is King
In order to optimize your chances of a successful placement in sync, it’s super, super important to do your research – researching brands and shows via the web. It will save you a ton of time, alot of misses, and help you organize your existing catalog and writing for sync.
On the flip-side, it will also show you where you might not have appropriate songs, i.e. placement opps where your style of music/writing is not a fit.
Does Everything Line Up?
Remember, you’re solving a problem for the show. That means your production style needs to line up, the lyrical content needs to fit, and of course the style of music needed (i.e. production and sound) also need to be a fit for both the show and the episode.
When you start your research, determine what types of music each brand or show likes and uses. Make a list. Be as creative as you want listing categories and identifiers that will trigger associations with your songs. Then have a column for song titles that apply.
Look at Music Libraries
One way to start is by looking at music libraries. Since there are so many—find a few that you’d like to be a part of.
Find out things like:
- What is their artist roster like?
- Is there a continuing theme or genre?
- Do they mostly have Indie pop, Folk, Americana etc…?
- Can you see what they’ve gotten placed or what they’ve done?
Companies love to talk about their placements, which makes it easy for you to do this type of research. Some top sites to visit:
On these sites, you can view the shows by each season and each episode, listing all the songs that were used. Often you can even find the music supervisor on those sites.
Active listening is important
Write down your research and then listen ACTIVELY.
If there is a certain show you want to get a placement for:
- gather a playlist of songs that were placed,
- put them on repeat – don’t just do one or two listening passes
- listen multiple times and take notes!
You have to understand all the nuances of the type of songs they pick. Sure, you may be hearing the full song, but you don’t know things like:
- what section they used (unless you watch the show)
- what about that song was perfect for that scene.
Once you start doing your research into these songs, you’re going to start noticing the various:
- ebbs and flows
- the builds
- the drop
- lyrical themes
- style and genre themes
Doing the research instead of stopping at assumptions will make all the difference.
What to do with all the information and research?
- Absorb & Understand the show playlist – the first step of absorbing and understanding the playlist was so important—because the next step is to
- Practice writing – Eventually it will become natural. Keep in mind, the one thing they’re going to look for in sync is authenticity.
Music supervisors love, and look for bands who are authentic and real. It’s because when that authenticity shines through, it paints and highlights a scene much better.
As you build your catalogue, treat every song as its own entity. Not every write will be like the last, or will require the same thing. Ask yourself questions during this writing process like:
- “Is this an instrumental vs. is this a full blown song?
- If it is, am I singing it? Am I getting a work for hire to sing it?”
The trend of ‘Era’ songs
Using ‘era’ songs is very much in vogue these days. What do you have in your catalog that sounds ‘80’s , 90’s, etc. It’s very popular to use hits from the past. If you have songs that invoke the feeling of a big ‘era’ hit – make note and pitch them!
Example: Mega-hit show Stranger Things recently used a seminal older song, “Running Up That Hill” by Kate Bush.
The 37 year-old song has reportedly earned British singer Kate Bush $2.3 million and counting. “Running Up That Hill” charted as the most-streamed song in the world in early June, and now sits in the top five spots of the Billboard Global 200.
You may have overlooked one very important avenue for sync placement – collaboration. Who do you know or have in your network?
As you compile research from your list, looking at libraries or catalogues of licensors with artists, are there any accessible artists you can reach out to collaborate or start connecting with?
If you connect and hit it off with an artist who’s already connected to a licensing company, you already have an in and you don’t have to send an awkward cold email that gets forgotten about.
The artist who already has had a placement, is able to connect and get traction for asong that you wrote together, much easier. Suddenly, you have an in with them yourself.
Start Now and Keep it Up
Make it a goal to do a little research each week, or everyday. Before you know it, you will have a really good database of realistic placement opportunities for your music. And you’ll start getting briefs once you get a few placements and music supervisors get to know your music.
Who knew you were such an Inspector Gadget!
Source – American Songwriter (edited)
4 tips for getting music sync placements
From the Reverbnation Blog (edited)
Landing a big sync placement can give you much-needed financial support and exposure for your music as an artist, but it’s not easy. These opportunities are usually hard to come by because of the overwhelming amount of music that’s out there coupled with how many artists there are with the same goals as you.
But this doesn’t mean all hope is lost when it comes to finding opportunities to get your music licensed.
1. Don’t forget about smaller placements, especially if you’re
developing your experience
Not all sync placements are the same, especially in 2022. Getting a song picked up for a car commercial can be career-changing for an artist, but it’s an extremely rare occurrence.
Smaller placements and micro-licensing opportunities won’t provide massive amounts of money or exposure, but they can help fund your career and bring your music attention in smaller ways.
Making your songs available for small companies and independent content creators is helpful for showing music supervisors who might be in charge of bigger placements what your music looks and sounds like in media contexts. If you’ve never had your music licensed before, working with a micro-licensing company is a good place to start.
2. Make sure your sound has an intentional mood and
In 2022, your music does not have to be recorded and produced
in a multi-million dollar studio in order to be licensed. But
creating music with a clear direction in mood, production
style, and genre will increase your chances at finding sync
opportunities in a big way.
- Choose a sound and deliver it consistently to the best of your ability, whether it’s something radio-friendly or more lofi.
- A consistent approach will help curators know how to categorize your music and envision how it best fits with their projects.
Your latest single might not be a good fit for someone’s upcoming placement, but if someone likes what you’re doing, they’ll consider you for upcoming opportunities.
3. Take an active approach to pitching your music (Don’t
assume music supervisors will find you)
If you wait for music supervisors and sync placement agencies to find you, your music may never get licensed. Similar to pitching to blogs, it might seem like sharing your music for music placement consideration is a waste of time, but it’s not.
If your work is good enough, someone will eventually listen and choose to work with you. Keep in mind that doing this takes a lot of time, research, and follow up, but it’s worth it.
4. Think about the needs of content creators, but don’t come
off as inauthentic
Doing this requires a delicate balancing act. You don’t want to force yourself to sound a certain way, but creating music that’s obscure, cryptic, and self-indulgent will be a lot harder to sync than music that’s accessible.
If finding opportunities for your music to be featured in commercials, TV, and movies is a big priority, listen closely to the songs that you hear in the media you consume. This will give you an idea of what’s being chosen and the function songs provide for music supervisors.
Sync opportunities are hard for many musicians to get, but they aren’t impossible to find. This is an area of music that rewards independent musicians for making as much great, consistent music as they can and doing the tireless work of getting it heard by the right people.