During this year’s MOBfest Chicago, not only did several up and coming bands come to the city for a three-day showcase, but the event also brought several music business executives to speak on panels about the role of music supervisor and the changing role of A&R.
More and more artists are looking for opportunities to gain exposure by placing their music in advertisements, movies, TV shows or even video games. But how to make it happen? These panelists came out to share their knowledge:
- Chuck Bein, See Music – composer, engineer & music supervisor who has worked with McDonald’s, Chevy, Nintendo & others
- Stump Mahoney, Draft FCB – music producer, music supervisor & radio producer at this leading advertising agency
- Julia Henry, Ivy Augusta – music supervisor, consultant & artist manager at her own company where she helps select music for live sports events. Formerly headed up Fox Sports music department.
- Maureen Crowe, Guild of Music Supervisors – in addition to her role as president of the Guild, has supervised music for major films
Getting your music into advertisements & commercials
Stump and Chuck drew on their experience both on the advertising agency and music supervision agency sides to offer the following advice:
- Factors that affect what a brand is looking for: instrumental, vocals & lyrics, tone of the music. This is why you should have both a stereo mix and all parts separate for your music – maybe the tone & instrumentals are perfect, but the lyrics aren’t.
- Ad agencies work with a variety of companies to find music for ads: labels (indie & major), publishing administrators (Bank Robber Music was mentioned as a great resource for agencies). These types of companies are also refered to as aggregators, synch agencies or third-party pitchers, and they already have established relationships for decision-makers for ads, film, TV and video games.
- Depending on the scope of the project, Stump looks for different things. First and foremost, the sound is most important. But if the ad campaign also wants to include the band in various executions, then he also has to look at appearances, personalities, etc. to make sure everything is in line with the brand’s identity.
- For a commercial, there will be a post-mixing session to customize the song for the ad and mix in sound effects, additional vocals, etc. so when pitching your music a normal mix off the desk is fine – the file doesn’t need to be completely mastered.
- Perhaps contrary to what you might think, sometimes the bigger or longer a commercial is, the less a musician gets paid. Some might argue that this is because the artist is getting a lot of exposure for their music in these deals.
- In general, when it comes to placing your music in a high-profile advertising campaign, “It’s like playing the lottery – play to win, but don’t count on it for your income. There are just too many players,” says Stump.
Getting your music played at live sports events
Julia drew on her extensive experience supervising music for college and professional sports to provide some tips for artists looking to get their music played at these events:
- Be a professional. Know the business as well as the music so you can work quickly & efficiently. She loves when an artist can jump in the studio last-minute to make needed changes to a track.
- Know the audience. The NFL has a pumped up, celebratory tone, while college football tends to reach a younger demographic. On the other hand, baseball is more traditional American.
- Know the situation. Sports events are live so think about all the things that can happen – themed days at the park, changes in weather, etc. Julia is always looking for themed songs about the particular city where a game is being played, sunny/rainy weather, holidays (i.e. Father’s Day), winning/losing and other situations. Plus, remember the atmosphere at a stadium – people are chanting, cheerleaders need music (often remixes & mashups).
- Know the format. Right now, Julia is looking for music videos for college football, so visuals like cover art are more important.
- In sports, it’s all about conveying the energy.
Formatting & sending your music
- For most people, digital files are prefered – but meta data is crucial. Meta data is the information attached to your file, including artist, song name, contact info, publishing, ownership, etc.
- Speaking of ownership, be sure to work out that business stuff beforehand – who owns what, completely honest & legit, and registered. The last thing you want is to almost close a big deal for your music and then have to tell a major brand or film that you don’t have full ownership over it.
- Also, if you’re sending your digital file as a link – don’t use links that expire in your message.
- Follow up regularly but don’t be annoying. Julia recommends “passive correspondence”: find something (relevant) to talk about every month or so. This can include band updates, a newsletter, etc.
- If you’re looking for someone to pitch your music for you, any major publisher will do admin or publishing deals where they will pitch your music and collect royalties. But be careful of lesser-known companies that are over-promising what can feasible by delivered.
- Lastly, if you’re sending background information about your band, a simple one-sheet is more than enough. Keep it short & sweet, and include any notable partnerships or career highlights.
- If you are interested in reaching out to a music supervisor, use resources like IMDB to see what projects they’re working on to tailor your pitch as well as possible.