Licensing Lust? 3 reasons your songs aren’t getting placed.
You’ve got your shiz together! People tell you all the time “your songs are PERFECT for film/tv”. So why isn’t it happening? Why aren’t your songs getting interest from licensing companies?
Check out three of the most common reasons artists can’t get their songs licensed:
1.The message/lyric is not positive or empowering enough.
It’s a basic tip, but it’s surprising how many people overlook it. Songs with overtly positive or empowering messages are much more licensable than songs with a sad or depressing messages. The reason is simple. Songs are emotions delivered via sound. It’s cool if you’re an ace at delivering deep and dark songs, but television is about selling products, and nobody wants to buy what makes them feel less happy or less powerful.
Advertisers especially want songs that make people feel excited, joyful, energetic, and empowered because those emotions sell products. Songs that can deliver these emotions in a fresh and exciting way are licensing gold.
Are there movie trailers and tv scenes that use tearful brooders? Yes, but it’s an odds game here. My sources say that the majority of song requests coming from music supervisors are for positive songs (as described above). It is important to also note that most song submissions (received by the same sources) from artists do not fit this criteria. Take an objective look over your catalog and identify which of your songs have a positive or empowering message.
2. The lyrics are too specific.
No matter how amazing your song is, if it’s too specific to work in a lot of scenes/situations it will generally not be good for licensing. “But I have the most incredible song about a purple unicorn named Wanda who lives in Santa Monica and wears a beret”. Cool bro, when a movie or tv show comes out about that exact character – you’ll totes be golden! Haha.
It can be subtle things too, like using specific names or places in your song.
I have (at my licensing company’s request) gone back and re-written/re-corded lyrics to make them more broad and therefore more usable. My song “Summertime” used to say “and the cool California breeze”, but now says “and the cool coming off the breeze”. Tiny tweak, but it opens up the possible uses by leaps and bounds because I’m not specifically referencing California. Look over your lyrics and see how usable they are across a broad range of scenarios.
3. The production is lacking or dated.
This is highly objective, but it’s important to think about your competition. Everyone has access to high quality tools at a very low price point these days. Does your best song right now feel like it can compete with what’s hot today? Trends change and it’s easy to find yourself behind what’s current and cool, so pay attention to what’s working. Develop your own strengths and style because the more original you are, the harder you are to compete with. If you’re always copying others, you’ll always be one step behind.
In summary, licensing is a highly competitive area of the music business. Focus your energy on strategically creating songs with broad themes that retain your artistic integrity, while managing to be empowering and positive and you’ll greatly increase your odds of success!
What are some themes and trends you’ve seen in ads and movie trailers lately? How do you approach writing differently when you’re focusing on licensable songs? Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to leave me a comment, a question, or a virtual hive five below!