Selling Out: Music for Commercials
September 13, 2005 8:15 AM   Subscribe

How does one get their music used in TV commercials?

I work for a small record label. A few months ago, a retail chain paid us a ton of money to use a very very old song from our back catalogue in a TV spot. After the initial shame of selling out wore off, we realized that this kind of thing could help generate significant revenue and help the label expand.

So now we are planning to send copies of some of our records to advertising agencies. My question is, to whom should we address our packages? To the CD's? To junior creatives? Who usually picks the songs?

Also, any tips from advertising people is much appreciated.
posted by mds35 to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Creatives and/or the spot director will pick the music. And they pride themselves on finding the music, rather than being given it - most agencies I've been in have a room piled with CDs that they sit and listen to when doodling on the desk is too much like hard work... You can send copies of your music to agencies, and it'll get thrown in the room, and maybe listened too - if someone doesn't steal it first.

Alternatively, agencies will approach Production Music agencies with a brief and the ProductionMusic agency will try to fulfil it. You can build a relationship with a Production Music company and try and get them to sell you back catalogue on to their clients.

Alternatively II, agencies will commission a composer to write a piece of music for the ad.
posted by benzo8 at 8:26 AM on September 13, 2005

benzo8, what are some music production agencies that you'd recommend? And how does one approach them?
posted by mds35 at 8:30 AM on September 13, 2005

mds35: I'm Barcelona-based and I'm guessing that most of the production music agencies I know of won't be any use to you. Do a google search for "production music" and start investigating. In general, production music agencies don't require an agent or management approach, so you can send them your music (or music that you have the synchronisation rights to) and they'll consider whether to add it you their library or not. If they do, they will act as a publisher for that music and will take their cut when they place it.
posted by benzo8 at 8:43 AM on September 13, 2005

Rumblefish can probably help you.
posted by fletchmuy at 9:13 AM on September 13, 2005

I work in production and we use pumpaudio and firstcom. I believe they have a link for musicians who want to sell their music to the library.
posted by captainscared at 9:42 AM on September 13, 2005

When I worked for an indie label that had its songs used in several high-profile commercials, all the connections came from people in post-production facilities. They needed some "fake" music to put into the rough cuts to show the suits and the suits said "hey, that sounds good, go with that."

So post-production places might be a good place to try sending promos to, too.
posted by bcwinters at 10:51 AM on September 13, 2005

Commercials are good, but think bigger. For opportunities to get into tv/movie soundtracks, start contacting music supervisors. They select and license each episode's music, and despite getting tons of CDs from the major recording companies there are always some who are in need of a fresh sound that (a) hasn't already been played to death on every other show and radio station, (b) is cheaper to license, and (c) rights can be cleared quickly. The payoff for you is more than just the cash; when the stars align just so, it can be career-making exposure.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 11:26 AM on September 13, 2005

"After the initial shame of selling out wore off..."

No shame -- be proud that something you were involved in has commercial value! That means that it is WORTH something -- I salute you and wish you more success!
posted by davidmsc at 4:49 PM on September 13, 2005

In Nashville, there are people who work to do two things: sell finished songs to production companies and sell written songs to recording artists. They're called, well, song sellers. They're up and down music row, and a lot of people do it to make extra cash, because if they end up selling a hit they take a cut of the revenue.
Do a google search for song sellers Nashville or something similar. It's been a long time since I had friends doing that there, but there should be some around...
posted by klangklangston at 10:33 AM on September 14, 2005

Good stuff, folks. Thanks for edumuh-cating me.
posted by mds35 at 7:33 AM on November 30, 2005

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