The Intersection of TV Shows, Film, and Music Promotion

by Ayanna Jacobs-El

Having a song placed in a movie or a TV show is a big deal! Your song is broadcast to millions of listeners, many of whom you wouldn’t have been able to reach through your own means of promotion. You also usually get a pretty hefty payday from the film or TV show for the usage of your song. Many times, when I’m watching a show, and I hear a song I like, I pull out Shazam to find out the title and the artist. This usually leads to me checking out more of the artist’s songs, and sometimes, I like the artist so much that I will see their show if they come to my city. Imagine that this happens millions of times; your fan base and streams/views would reach new heights!

So you are probably asking, “How do I get my music into movies and show?” Well, first you need to have really high-quality music to pitch. You need to put your best foot forward when pitching, or else no one will give you the time of day, and it will cause you to have a bad rep if you try to pitch again in the future. Make sure the songs you are pitching are polished studio-qualityty tracks that feature your best writing and performances. Once, you feel that you have the highest quality songs to pitch, then you need to find a show that uses music similar to the styles you write in. You should watch a few episodes of the show to get a feel for what kind of music they use.

From there, it is important to see what shows and movies are currently in production. These shows and films will be your best bet at getting a song placement. Websites like Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, and IMDb Pro are all great resources to find out what shows are currently in production. When looking on these sites, you are looking for information about what projects are currently being made by who and what the production timeline looks like.

Next, you need to find out who the music supervisors of the shows that are currently in production are. The music supervisor oversees what music is used in film and TV. They also negotiate the terms of usage between the artists and the studios. You can find a comprehensive list of music supervisors and their contact information by purchasing the Film and Television Music Guide. You can also search google for music supervisors, watch closing credits for shows and films, and look on the Guild of Music Supervisors website.

Now that you have the contact info of the music supervisors, it’s time to put your business skills to work and contact them. You can contact music supervisors via email or phone but make sure to be very professional and polite when interacting with them. If you are able to form a business relationship, it could lead to many more placements in the future. When a music supervisor is interested in your work you need to send them your songs as fast as possible. Don’ let an opportunity slip through the cracks because you were too late submitting your music!

If you want to learn more about writing music that will be more likely to get placed in films and TV, you should consider taking Berklee’s class in the Songwriting department called Songwriting for Film and TV (SW-363). The course description is as follows: “This course will explore the techniques of writing music that will appeal specifically to music supervisors, editors, directors, and producers across any number of different genres. Throughout the course skills in songwriting, production, negotiation, collaboration, and establishing publishing deals will be developed, along with the opportunity to network with a variety of external music industry disciplines.”

Many artists only focus on making albums and touring, that they let opportunities for sync licensing in films and TV shows slip through the cracks. Don’t let these pathways for increased revenue and building your fanbase remain untapped!

HAVE YOU HAD A SONG PLACED IN A TV SHOW OR A FILM? LET US KNOW ABOUT THE PROCESS YOU WENT THROUGH TO GET THAT PLACEMENT IN THE COMMENTS! 

About the Author

Ayanna Jacobs-El
Ayanna Jacobs-El is a composer, producer, songwriter, singer, alto and baritone saxophonist, and DJ dual majoring in Contemporary Writing and Production and Professional Music with a minor in Writing for TV and New Media. You can learn more about Ayanna and hear her music by visiting www.ayannajacobsel.com.