Get Your Music Used in Film, TV, & Ads

We talked to Jay Sweet the other day about how music festivals can be launching pads for careers of new artists. This time around, Jay & George Howard discuss a subject many of you have said you want to hear more about: getting your music used in film/TV/ads.

Jay is one of the founders of Sweet & Doggett, a music supervision firm. Over the past ten years, he has worked with countless artists and movie/TV/ad producers to match music with moving images.  In this interview he offers some thoughts on getting started with having your music used, and what to do to increase the frequency of usages.

If you are in a hurry, here’s a quick summary of the key points:

1. Directors tend to be very loyal to their music supervisors
A director might forge a bond with a music supervisor or musician early on in his/her career, and then stick with those people for decades to come, as they get more successful.  So, one way to start is to make connections at local colleges where young filmmakers are just starting out, and offer to score their films for them for free.  Who knows, the person walking around on campus today might be the next Spielberg.

2. Create something to show
Grab a piece of film (or make your own video), and score it. Not only will this provide you with great practice, but it can become a calling card.

3. Know your values
While it seems most artists are eager to have their music used just about anywhere, this may not be true for you. Where would you not be comfortable having your music used, and where would you be thrilled for it to be used? Think about this before you talk to music supervisors.

4. Find the players
Once you’ve determined where you’d love to have your music used, find out who the key people are. Who is the producer of a project you’d love to get involved with, who is the music supervisor, etc.

5. Stand out
Easier said than done, of course. While knowing the players is key, don’t inundate them with emails or calls.  Instead, build up your profile:

    • Make sure you’re gigging a lot (ideally in places where these people might be, so you can invite them to your shows)
    • Work hard to get some social media buzz around your music (so these people might follow you on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr)
    • Make sure your music is up on iTunes, Spotify, Rdio and other places music supervisors might look you up
    • Try to get radio play in key areas (hint: just about every music supervisor listens to KCRW in Santa Monica)

(Editor’s Note: Let TuneCore Publishing Administration pitch your compositions for placements in film, TV, national advertising and more.)

George Howard is the Executive Vice President of Wolfgang’s Vault. Wolfgang’s Vault is the parent company of Concert Vault, Paste Magazine, and Daytrotter. Mr. Howard is an Associate Professor of Management at Berklee College of Music. Follow George on Twitter.

  • Esli

    I’ve done my own videos with my own music. I just found cool clips on YouTube then edited together with the music. This would be called a synch video. I am going to try and and score some films with my own music so I can send that to connects.

  • Esli
  • Esli

    And here is another one:

  • Esli

    Music supervisors, please consider my band’s music for film/tv/commercials. Here is an example of how well my music works with film or animation. I made this video with my bands song “Adele'”. I basically put the song over a video I found on youtube and I didn’t even have to edit it at all. Enjoy:

  • Matty C Underwood

    Hey! Great video! The question I had is about stems for preparation. Say I own the master and am the songwriter. It would be 100% clear to use, and If I were asked for stems to my song, I could produce the UNMASTERED stems in a heartbeat. But the question is will they ask for MASTERED stems. I use a master technician, as do a lot of artists, and would I have to get the stem mastered before I had to send it to them?…or could I send the unmastered stem to the editors and let them do as they will. If I had to master the stem – this costs significant money and MOST IMPOTANTLY time to schedule the master engineer and time to master the alternate version of the main track (regarding time and possible MISSED opportunity of a synch due to the time delay). So I am asking, will they ask for an mastered stem or an unmastered stem? Thanks for the video and am really gracious for the advice!

    • I would send unmastered stems. If they then go with your song (or the version on the stems), you could master (and – maybe – build some of the expense of the mastering into your fee).


      • agree with George. there is a good chance they will figure out what to do with the stems themselves. besides, since mastering is largely EQ and compression, it is really meant to be done to the entire track and not the stems. I would say more commonly they ask for an instrumental version, rather than separate stems anyways. so get an instrumental version mastered

  • Tom

    Good video, got to say how bloody annoying it is you’re clicking on your computer and not even paying attention yourself to what he has to say. Trying to hear what he’s saying and all I can hear is click click click CLICK..!

  • Steven Cravis

    I recently got some of my music into Peter Gabriel’s new licensing site Cuesongs. I hope you’ll check it out. I can also write and license directly, or into other licensing catalog deals. Please contact me if you need instrumental or pop tunes.

  • tzurinskas

    New musical “Life in Pieces” I just released at 26 original songs. Like “Grease” or “High School Musical”. Check it out. Safe site.

  • hank

    Super! Thanks

  • i write in different styles,and record solo since ending ‘Pegasus’ , playing all instruments and vocals myself. and

  • I took his advice and tried submitting to the Rhode Island festival and he turned me away lol stating they don’t accept unsolicited band submissions. Awesome advice however a bit contradicting if you asked me anyway visit me Tunecore’s Urban Chicago style Artist

  • Bswag

    Has my Album. Made it to ITunes yet or. Any other stores

  • rose
  • S M G GOLD


  • MarleyMagner

    Don’t offer to score films for free! Your time is valuable, and filmmakers should learn early that you get what you pay for! You can negotiate for less or no pay, but only if you’re receiving something in return (above the line credit, referrals, ect). Don’t open with “I’ll do all of this work for you for free”. That is bad for the music industry.

  • Great video! definitely getting my ducks in order and will be contacting some indie film Music supervisors, for starters! Thanks for the great advice!

  • Banjotango

    If you need help mixing your multi-track session to stems, please contact me for help.

  • David Mariasi

    Music supervisors please consider my beach theme song for anything!