Music Industry Advice: Licensing for a Living

Music Industry Advice: Licensing for a Living

Music Industry Advice: Licensing for a Living PJ BloomPJ BLOOM
Neophonic Music & Media /

PJ Bloom has created soundtracks for over a thousand episodes of television and 50 films, plus video games, advertisements and amusement park rides. As music supervisor for Glee, he holds the record for most charted songs by a single act in Billboard Hot 100 chart history. Both the Guild of Music Supervisors and the American Association of Independent Music named Bloom “Music Supervisor of the Year.” He is a partner in Neophonic, one of the largest music supervision & consulting firms in the U.S., with credits in American Horror Story, Game of Thrones, Vinyl, True Detective and The People vs. OJ Simpson.

How did you get into music supervision?
It sure wasn’t something I thought of. I was an intern at Columbia Records. I wanted to work in A&R, but ended up in the soundtrack division. It was all new to me. I had one foot in music and the other in visual media, and I found it to be pretty cool.

Why do you think you’ve been so successful as a music supervisor?
I never had any fear of independent music. Some people like what I call security blankets, i.e. hit songs, that have a massive audience. But, I like to use my heart, soul and ears to find an incredibly emotional soundscape, even if it’s an unknown artist. That difference gave my work a distinct brand.

Why are music supervisors so difficult to contact?
It’s really about time. We are all crunched for time because we’re buyers in a world of sellers. I get hundreds of emails and pitches every day and can’t possibly respond to all of them. When I do have time, I listen to people who will give me the best chance to get what I need as quickly as possible. That’s why we tend to deal with a close circle of trusted sources. It’s not just about trust––it’s about time.

Would you advise artists to get professional representation?
In the beginning I think it’s helpful. There are agencies that are aggregators and rep a lot of artists. You feel safe with them because they speak the language and deals are done quicker.

How are budgets today?
Budgets are going down. Unfortunately, I have no control over that––it’s set by Business Affairs departments and producers and I have to play the hand I’m dealt. But, it’s good news for independent artists who are more affordable. That’s why you’re hearing more indie acts in hit shows.

Would you deal with a DIY artist?
Many artists don’t understand what’s involved in song placements. However, if I was absolutely in love with their material I would be willing to put in the time and effort to explain the situation to them.

Final advice?
This area of the industry is about long-term relationships. That’s what sustains a career. If you can get involved in a TV series that lasts for five or more seasons, you can make a good living. If you’re an artist who wants to license songs, do your homework and watch the shows you like to see how music is used. Then find a way to get our attention... It really isn’t that hard.

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