I spend a lot of time participating on panels centered on music supervision for film and TV.  I keep thinking that given the vast quantity of panels and mentoring sessions out there… surely everyone has been educated to date on the do’s and don’ts of how to get their music heard and possibly placed. Surprisingly, it’s just the opposite.  I’m not sure if it’s because some of my peers are giving off a defeatist vibe or if folks just aren’t willing to do the work.  All it takes is one music supervisor to genuinely like your music and become your champion.  Once that happens, you have a great chance of getting your music synched.

Here are some pointers to get you started:

  • Do your research! Find out which supervisors are working on what projects and then approach them and ask what they specifically need.  Try to find out as much as you can about the project before you reach out so you can best understand their directives, which will surely be short and to the point.  Most supervisors are too inundated to be able to take the time to explain what a project is about.  Also, if it’s a pre-existing series, oftentimes websites for the series will include past playlists.  If that’s the case, then a simple reach out asking permission to submit for the show will usually be responded to favourably.  I love when people make specific educated pitches.  It’s a helpful reprieve during my own laboured searches.
  • Follow-up regularly, but not too regularly. A monthly shout out inquiring whether or not we’re seeking anything in particular is a good way to get your name on our radar.  We may not respond the first few times, but you are bound to catch a break in the heat of a desperate search.  Keep it simple and to the point:  please let me know if I can be of assistance to you for any searches. This doesn’t require a response and is a polite way to say hey without applying any added pressure.   The first time you reach out to a supervisor, it’s important to provide a very brief about you and your company (type of music, size of catalog and whether or not you’re one stop shop (you control both the master recording and the publishing).
  • Only pitch what you control 100% or have previously established an agreement to represent on behalf of the other copyright and/or master owner(s). Music supervisors will only work with trustworthy and reliable sources.   If copyright or master rights are inaccurately represented, it can impact music supervisors in a multitude of ways including, but not limited to, increasing their music costs, making them appear inexperienced and unreliable to their production executives and costing valuable time and money if a song needs to be replaced at the last minute or stripped out of a project due to it not clearing. Make sure you only pitch what you know will clear and make sure you tell the supervisor whether or not they need to reach out to any other parties that have participation in the ownership of the song.   It’s also important that if splits are involved, you know exactly what percentage each person controls.
  • Make sure your songs are registered with a performing rights society. Studios aren’t allowed to broadcast anything that isn’t with one of the PROs (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, PRS, SOCAN, etc.).


There’s a lot of music readily available these days so the competition is fierce, but good music speaks for itself and projects are always being developed so staying positive and focused and sticking to the suggestions of above should work in everybody’s favour eventually.

Alicen – VP of music creative services for NBC Universal – will be back on midemblog soon; meanwhile check out our interview with her last January in Cannes!

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