By Ed Teja
If you are trying to break into the world of writing for film and television, one important marketing resource is music libraries. In general, these are nothing more or less than clearing houses for music.
A film or television music supervisor finds that one or several particular libraries have (or can find) music that is right for their projects. Clearly, at the high end (those high budget films or major television shows) this can involve significant connections—quality industry networking. A music supervisor for a high budget production tends to turn to known quantities—libraries that have provided good material previously—or people that they have worked with before. For the same reason you see the same people scoring movie after movie—they have shown they can do the job.
But in this online age a library can mean anything from an exclusive contact down to a server that warehouses music for music supervisors to wade through using a search engine that sorts based on the information you enter about your music. This is a mass market approach that relies on making music available to anyone who will look through the catalog, or at least the playlists (a collection of music of a certain type, like country, for instance) rather than asking the library to recommend three or four tunes that meet certain requirements.
Now don’t get the idea that the high end libraries are all good and the rest are bad. It depends on what you need, what rights they take, the kind of work you produce, and ultimately, what works for you. Some mass market libraries provide an important entre into the world of writing for video. After all, low budget production, web shows or small video productions need music too. And they provide credits. Many composers have proven their mettle (and learned a great deal) working for little or no money. Although you will hear cries of pain from some folks that you are devaluing the music by providing it cheaply, the reality is that you need a way to show your stuff and most of these markets will never be able to pay what the music is “worth” no matter what moral ground you wish to stand on. That doesn’t mean you work for free forever, it just means that the entry level markets server a valuable service.
If you produce a constant stream of work in the vein of existing groups, you will find lots of opportunities. Most opportunities, especially the last minute requirements, are for replacement songs. If you can produce similar tunes (feel, tempo, instrumentation, lyrics) to well known groups, you will undoubtedly find open arms at most libraries.
However, this work requires a special kind of objectivity. It isn’t something I can do well, if at all. I confuse my own musical values with those of a band I try to copy. Well, I probably let my values run roughshod over bands I am trying to copy. Ultimately, I find it better to do my own music and avoid comparisons. Still, you need to determine where your music fits in the constellation of music. Is it contemporary or retro? Is it period music—there is a market for old styles of music in period movies, but you have to be good at it.
So where to go with your music? A little bit of searching online will quickly produce a huge number of music libraries to choose from. Some want exclusives, some are nonexclusive, some let you choose. Almost all have their submission requirements somewhere on their website. Every one is a potential place to start.
Now before you shoot off your entire catalog to every library on the web, a word of caution. From day one strive to be professional. That means clean submissions that follow the guidelines carefully (their guidelines, not yours or those of the first library you run into). Don’t send instrumentals if they only take songs. Don’t send mp3s if they ask for CDs. Be sure to put your contact information everywhere on your materials. Bear in mind that successful people like to work with the willing. Your job is to appear to be willing to work with them. And then follow through. Be one of the willing.
Written by Ed Teja for Insider Music Business
The Hit Music Academy | 2010
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