Landing a song in a hit TV show, hot motion picture or national commercial may not rocket you to stardom and riches, but it could give you tremendous exposure and pay a few bills. Although budgets aren’t as big as they used to be, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, indie music is being used more than ever in films, television shows and commercials because it’s less expensive than paying a major label, big time publisher or superstar artist. As a result, the paradigm has shifted and independent artists are the beneficiaries. So that you can take advantage of these changing times, we contacted music supervisors with some of the hottest credits on the planet, and talked with an organization that helps artists meet supervisors and place music. This exclusive feature is indeed a “master class” on getting song placements.
President, Picture Music Company
Contact: via website
Company: Picture Music offers various forms of music supervision and consulting services to entertainment and production companies.
Credits: (Music) Phil Ramone, Paul Simon, Malcolm McLaren, Slash, Iggy Pop (Television) Californication, Necessary Roughness, Unforgettable, Powers, Dead People, Ray Donovan (Film) Disney Touchstone Pictures, Overture Films
Honors/Awards: Outstanding Music Supervision in Television (Hollywood Music in Media Awards), Best Music Supervision in Television (Guild of Music Supervisors), Advisory Board (Hollywood Reporter/Billboard Magazine Film and Television Music Conference)
How did you get into music supervision?
I worked in music production and was always good at picking songs. I found that music supervision involves a lot of facets that I like. But, I didn’t know much about it so I worked with a couple supervisors to learn the business. I’ve been doing it for 15 years now, and no two days are alike.
How have budgets changed over the years?
Today, it sometimes seems like music is an afterthought and budgets reflect that. When soundtracks were popular, budgets were much bigger because labels kicked in their share. Now that’s rare.
Why is it so hard to get to music supervisors?
I admit it’s not easy to get to us. And when you do we may not respond––we’re just too busy. I get hundreds of emails and submissions a day. So, it’s best to go through channels. There are key people we use because we trust them to clear rights.
What rights are involved in song placements?
Rights to the song and rights to the sound recording. We need to know all parties that have an interest in either area, and those rights must be cleared. That’s why we like working with people we know––they’re safe. And it’s helpful if one person is authorized to deal with the rights so we don’t have to chase everyone.
Would you consider placing an unknown act?
My ears are always open. I listen to different radio stations and search for new music online. But, if I don’t know the person I have to research everything about a song before I pitch it and that takes time. That’s why I like dealing with reputable placement agencies.
Would you ever place a cover song?
Yes, if it’s unique. But, that involves getting the songwriter and publisher to sign off on it. And sometimes the original act insists that I use their version, or not at all. So the cover has to be very special for me to pursue it.
What do artists need to do to get a song placed?
They should do their homework and know the type of music used on a TV show, movie or commercial. They should know what kind of projects I work on. If you haven’t seen my shows, your pitch will fail.
What type of pitch would turn you off?
People who overdo it turn me off. I don’t want to be inundated with calls and emails. That makes me avoid you.
What type of music do you like?
All of my projects are different, so all kinds of music interest me. I want to know what’s out there. So if you have something that fits one of my projects I’d like to get a streaming link that has a download option.