I’ve spent much of 2020 focusing on my own music. The quarantine and lockdown served as an unexpected catalyst for a new batch of songs and led to one of the most prolific periods of songwriting I’ve had in years.
I also found myself, due to the extra time on my hands brought on by the lockdown, spending a lot of time “cleaning up” my website, social media and online presence. During “normal” times I am usually very busy with several different things going on. Between running my business, writing and performing, and focusing on marketing and licensing my music, it can be hard to find extra time for things like updating my website, social media etc. But these things are also important and can make a big difference when it comes to prospective libraries and agencies choosing to work with you or not.
Here are a list of things you might not be thinking about, but should be, before you start actively pitching your tracks:
Get your social media house in order – I’ve talked a lot previously about the types of files you need to have and the different mixes and edits you should have before you start shopping your music for licensing. See my “Music Licensing Manifesto” for more on this.
Another area you should have in order, that you might not necessarily think about when it comes to licensing, is having your social media and online presence in order. I spent a lot of time during quarantine focused on growing my Youtube channel and creating new content. When it comes to social media and licensing, there are no hard and fast rules. It’s not necessarily a pre-requisite to have x number of followers or subscribers, and some companies and agencies are more concerned with social media than others. But as a general rule, it will only help your marketing and pitching efforts to be established on at least one or several social media platforms. It will certainly never hurt.
I have close to 5k subscribers on Youtube. In the grand scheme of things this isn’t that big of a following, but you’d be surprised how many artists I see that have very few subscribers and views on Youtube. In some cases, I’ve seen artists who have amazing tracks but have made very little impact on platforms like Youtube and Spotify. Even some fairly established artists have relatively small followings on these platforms.
Again, it’s not really a pre-requisite per se that you have x number of subscribers or followers to license your music, but it helps people in the industry see that you’re actively promoting your music and that you’re consistently growing your fanbase. I personally aim for releasing one new video each week, although there are periods where I fall behind due to my schedule. However, when I am releasing new content each week, I can see very tangible trend upward in terms of subscribers and views.
Update your website – Another thing I did during quarantine, that you might not have thought about, is update my website. When you submit your tracks to libraries and sync agencies, you will often by asked for a link to your website and social media. The places you’re submitting your music are obviously going to check those sites out. Make sure everything on your website is up to date and looks good. I recently went through my website and updated my licensing credits, all the images and the layout to make it look even better than before. It’s a good idea to update your website several times a year to make sure everything is up to date, current and is the most accurate reflection what you and your music are about.
Update your bio and credits – I also recently updated my bio to include recent projects I’ve worked on and ended up re-writing the whole thing. I cut out a lot of the fat and unnecessary fluff that was in my old bio and highlighted more of the important credits over the last couple years. Make sure your bio is up to date and mentions any relevant licensing credits and placements. You’d be surprised how many artists I come across that leave out this vital information.
Create a playlist and/or showreel – One of the other new things I did this year was to create different playlists of my music based on genre; singer/songwriter, rock and instrumental. In my initial submission I usually submit three or four of my recent tracks, with a link to several different playlists should they want to hear more of my music in a specific genre. This has proven to be really helpful as I’ve already ended up signing several new songs, I might not have otherwise, as a direct result of this move.
Update your initial email – One of the other things I did was to update my initial email and what I say when I first reach out to new companies. I made a few minor changes in order to come across more succinct and professional. I also did an a/b test of two different emails, both using different tracks, to see which one got the best results. I would show you the exact email I’ve been using, but I think it makes more sense to find your own voice and communication style. I’m not a big fan of copying and pasting emails templates. It’s better to find your own voice.
With that said, here are a few key points to keep in mind when you’re submitting your music to someone for the first time:
Keep your communication succinct and to the point - Don’t write long emails that take a long time to read. Most people in this industry are busy, so be respectful and keep your emails as short as possible while still effectively communicating key points about you and your music. I usually limit my emails to two fairly short paragraphs.
Mention any relevant credits, experience, etc. – I always make sure to highlight any relevant credits, recent placements I’ve had and so on. This lets people know that your music has a proven track record within the licensing industry. If you don’t have any placements yet, no worries, just skip this part. But once you start getting placements, no matter how small or insignificant you think they are, be sure to mention this in your initial emails to new libraries and publishers you reach out to.
Link to playlist or showreel – Like I said, I’ve started including links to relevant playlists I’ve created on soundcloud, in addition to the initial songs I submit (usually three or four). This gives people the option to peruse more of your tracks if they like the initial ones you send. Start with three or four tracks you feel best represent you and then link to an extra playlist or two of related styles. If you have a showreel that features some of your credits and placements this is also great. I’m in the process of my updating my showreel to include my recent placements and will add this to my emails as well.
Between the tips above and the checklist of things to do before pitching your music in The Music Licensing Manifesto, you’ll have a complete overview of everything you should have in order prior to pitching your tracks. If you do all these things AND you have a great product, you’ll get results.
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