When it comes to music licensing, it’s best to think long term. As I’ve said many times before in my blogs and podcasts, music licensing is not a get rich quick scheme. Success in music licensing usually plays out over months and years.
It takes time to create a catalog, build connections and ultimately get placements. Which is why, it’s best to approach sync licensing with this awareness from the outset. If you go into this business looking for instant gratification, you’ll most likely be disappointed. Learn to enjoy the journey and embrace the process.
When you are planning a strategy for success in music licensing, it’s best to think in terms of years, as opposed to days or even months.
Year 1 – Focus on creating a large body of work and getting production quality up to speed.
Year 2 – Focus on networking and cultivating connections with people in the industry.
Year 3 – Focus on getting placements and building your resume while continuing to create new music.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t or won’t get a placement in year one, or that you can’t continue to work on new music in year two. But this sort of long-term thinking and strategizing will allow you to see the big picture and not get stuck in a place where you’re frustrated because you’re not seeing the results you want to see right out of the gate. It will also help you keep your eye of the prize and focus on what you need to focus on at any given moment.
If you already have a large body of work ready to be pitched, then by all means start networking and building connections. But make sure you have a good grasp on where you are in the grand scheme of things before you start blindly pitching your music. It’s best to zoom out and get a bird’s eye view of where you are and then hone in on the specific area or areas you need to focus on.
How do you know where you are and what you should focus on?
First and foremost, if you want to license music, you need to have great music, that is fully produced and ready to be pitched. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the “Music Licensing Checklist” that I put together that outlines what you need to have ready to go, before you start pitching your music. Check that out here.
In the music licensing checklist PDF I break down specifically what you need and what you need to do, prior to pitching your tracks and go into more detail on each step. Here’s a breakdown of the basic steps you should take, from start to finish, as you embark on your sync licensing journey: (For more information on each step, click on the link.)
Step One – Create ten to twenty tracks, fully produced, mixed and mastered.
Step Two – Create Both Instrumental & Vocal Versions Of All Tracks
Step Three – Create Both WAV and MP3 Files Of All Tracks
Step Four – Add Metadata to your tracks
Step Five – Register Your Titles With your PRO (ASCAP, BMI, etc). If you haven’t joined a PRO yet, join one.
Step Six – “Copyright” your tracks. (Note: This isn’t a pre-requisite, but is recommended)
Step Seven – Form a publishing company to get paid for tracks licensed through companies that don’t publishing royalties (Sync Agencies, Some music libraries, licensing music directly through supervisors)
Step Eight – Launch A Music Licensing Campaign
Step Nine – Continue To Create New Music And Continue Cultivating Relationships In The Industry
The above steps provide a framework and sequence for moving through the sync licensing industry, from start to finish. You can of course always circle back and complete tasks that you haven’t already done. Maybe you’ve already started pitching your tracks, but you haven’t formed a publishing company yet. No problem, simply go back and take care of this step when you get a chance. Conversely, maybe you’ve already started pitching your tracks, but you forgot to copyright your tracks. Again, not a big deal, you can simply take care of this going forward.
When I first embarked on my licensing journey, I didn’t really have a clue what I was doing and I had to learn, through trial and error, as I went. But in retrospect, I could have saved myself a lot of time and progressed a lot quicker if I had been able to see the big picture and set myself up better for success. By anticipating the steps you’ll need to take going forward, you’ll be able to plan better and work more strategically.
Also be sure to check out my "Music Licensing Manifesto" if you haven't already for an even more in-depth overview of the music licensing journey.