If you are a avid TV watcher or film fan, you have noticed that less and
less known artists have their songs featured, or are dominating the new
TV shows or movies. Instead, TV and film music supervisors have been
aggressively looking for and have been actively using independent
artists who release their own CDs.
It may sound a bit odd in a music industry which is dominated by major
labels and a seemingly invisible group of people in the media, who try
to keep you from succeeding, but it's true. Over the last few years, TV
and film music supervisors have taken a number of independent artists I
am working with, for shows such as, HBO's "Sex In The City" and "The
Soprano's", NBC's new show, "The Immortal" and Fox's new show, "The Street".
In fact, both "The Immortal" and "The Street" are using Gerard McMann's
a.k.a. GTomMac music for the theme songs.
The primary interest that supervisors have in independent artists these
days is mainly because of your 'friends' at the major labels.
Supervisors who inquire about various major artists are sent wonderful
packages to entice them. Once they have decided on an artist and a piece
of music, they call the label to find out how much it would cost them to
use the artist's song. Then they are usually hit with a price tag
starting at $5,000 plus residual dollars for the use of 30 seconds of
the song. Usually higher for more established artists.
Obviously, with the risk that a TV show may not even survive the season,
supervisors are trying to cut costs whenever possible. Faced with the
fact of a limited budget, many supervisors have their prayers answered
by independent artists they have met at film festivals and conventions.
Supervisors usually find that independent artists will accept between
$1,500-$2,500 for a brief usage of their song and they are happy to
provide the artists with residuals as well. So supervisors can use two or
three independent artist's songs for the minimum of what a major label
wanted for one.
Independent artists also have another advantage for supervisors. They
can create new music for the film without having to get permission from
a major label or having the staff at the label, delay the time sensitive
process. To put it simply, major label artists are restricted in what
they can do, independent artists are not.
So now that you know that this playing field is open to you, here are a
few key ideas to get you started and a few things you should know.
1. Never send a TV or film supervisor a press kit. Always send him a
complete Artist Profile. Supervisors are like everyone else. They will
throw away a pee-che folder press kit before listening to the music. (If
you don't have an Artist Profile, contact me at www.tsamusic.com)
2. Build relationships with supervisors. Go to film conferences and TV
events that supervisors would attend. Talk to everyone. The guy standing
alone by the tree will probably be Hollywood's big new director next
3. If you are a fan of a TV show, mail the supervisor and let him know
you are a fan of the show and you have a song that you believe will
work well for the show. Write out your thoughts for what character or
situation it would be best for.
4. Get a list of TV and film supervisors and their current contact
information. ("The Film & Television Music Guide" published by Music
Business Registry is an excellent one). Send the appropriate supervisors
your CD and Artist Profile. Don't go through companies or organizations
that offer to 'screen' your material to determine if they think it's good
enough 'in their opinion', to send to someone they know. It is true that
supervisors often use these companies to keep the 'garbage' to a
minimum. However they also use these services because they can get your
music for free!
5. Walk away from any deal which asks you for the exclusive rights to
your songs, your publishing, for them to use your music anyway they want
or however long they want and especially if they are not offering any
money. Don't be a sucker for the people who say they can get your song
placed if you donít take any money. Believe me, you will end up on a
supervisor's list of artists to call when they have no money left and
they want music. Always get paid for your work! Organizations who
prescreen materials for supervisors have the reputation for providing
them with 'free music' and that's why they call them.
Film and TV exposure of your music can be the 'kick start' your career
needs to get going. Look at Elliot Smith's career. Many of you wouldn't
even know of him if his music wasn't in the movie, "Good Will Hunting". Or
the aforementioned Gerard McMann, who still sells thousands of CDs of
his "Cry Little Sister" song from "The Lost Boys" movie.
One final note, a large number of music supervisors like to review an
artist's web site. Make sure that your site is built upon your Artist
Profile and not a press kit. "The Complete Guide To Independent Promotion
For Musicians, Artists & Songwriters" can help you redesign your site.
Author Tim Sweeney is head of Tim Sweeney & Associates, who are entering their 18th year of being, "the only true artist development company in the world."
Tim is one of the music industry's most sought after experts and consultants, and has written several influential books including "Tim Sweeney's Guide To Releasing Independent Records".
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