Sync licensing, i.e. having your music placed in commercials, television, and movies, seems to be the flavor of the day for many independent musicians as the glamor and prestige of becoming a rock star signed to a big label, fades. Plus, nobody cares what you look like – bonus.
And, as music production tools have become more accessible, big studios are closing, and record labels offer fewer peanuts, the idea of creating music in our own home studios and the apparent ease of getting it placed in hit films is an attractive one for the musician, artist, and producer who is hell-bent on making a living doing something they love.
Alas. It sounds easy when you read all about it from others who have been there and done that! Raven wrote previously about our experiences and findings when we were actively on that path as Spicy Folk. We had some limited success and many disappointments. But I wanted to share some thoughts on what, in hindsight, are the things that I would probably do differently if I were to start that journey all over again; and really, as I go forward
1) Focus and persistence
This pretty much applies to everything you do. But it’s funny how difficult it is to put a simple idea into practice! With all the disappointments that come with sending music off to publishers and music supervisors who may not even be real people, things can become quite demotivating very quickly. It’s a lot of work for what seems to be little or no reward.
But, if you don’t stay on track, focused on your goals, and if you give up too soon, you will most certainly go nowhere. Setting clear goals and objectives and really thinking through how you are going to achieve them, as well as being realistic with your expectations, is a big part of that.
2) Online musician syndrome
“Check out my music” .. really? [DELETE]
Yep, the internet rules the world. I’m definitely not a Facebook or Twitter kinda guy, but I really do spend a lot of my time online whether for work or pleasure.
None-the-less, I do believe that networking and real face-to-face contact with people involved in the field is an important part of being successful in an industry like music, which is very competitive, to say the least. And it really is hard to inspire real responses from the people that might possibly have a use for my music – but who just don’t know yet – when I send them another “check out my music” email or social media link.
So if you’re a sit-at-home rock start like me, maybe try to get out more and get involved with real people if you can. Conferences, trade shows, festivals, events, visiting people in their offices and establishing real relationships with potential music clients, on top of the internet stuff, I think, is a pretty good idea – unless you’re so online famous already that they’re already chasing you down!
It’s all too easy these days just to sit in front of a computer and type out an email to someone you’ve never met, and then pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
3) Research, study and becoming a life-long learner
For the longest time, I had no idea about how the music business worked at all. Still don’t know much, but I know more than I did. For example. I didn’t really understand how copyright worked, what a publisher did, or what the role of the record label was; and I had no idea about marketing, branding, selling, communications, etc., etc. you get the picture.
I can’t emphasize enough the importance of being a life-long learner. And in the music industry, there is so much to learn. Especially if you are outside of that circle and have spent your life doing music only as a passion and hobby.
eduecaytid educated, is what I says! And I don’t just mean music theory, I’m talking about the business of music. There is so much good information out there, and some amazing schools – most of whom now have online courses – there is just no excuse if you’re serious about your career.
4) Honing your chops
The last one I am gonna put out there is surely obvious. You gotta be better than good enough! But again, when you are doing this as a quarter-timer, and trying to balance work, family, and life in general, it’s easy to just make excuses, like “I’ve been playing for 20 years already and I don’t really have time to practice much, but I think I’m pretty good anywayz “.
If I weren’t so busy myself, I would definitely put more time into developing my skills, learning more about music, songwriting, and production, and just plain practicing in a more systematic and consistent way 🙂
One thing’s for sure, the games not over just yet! So I’m gonna plunder on in the pursuit of scoring my first big sync licensing deal very soon by trying to follow some of my own advice!
So what’s your story? Did you score a deal so far? Still struggling like the rest of us? Got some experiences or advice you wanna share? Post your comments and thoughts below.
Thanks for reading!