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Music Licensing: An Insider’s Perspective

ImagesGuest Post by John Steen 

I had a chance to talk with Adam McCants from The Music Bed on a recent podcast, and he gave me the raw scoop on how to get your music licensed. Adam works with major licensing opportunities every day and The Music Bed library gets over 2 million views a month, so I was very interested in what he had to say.First, he stressed that artists need excellent production quality.

He regularly shoots down a multitude of submissions that are truly great songs, simply because the sonic quality is lacking. So if you’re thinking about sending something to a licensing A&R, make sure the production and mixing checks out after comparing to other professional mixes. Compare your song against other placements on the company’s site, or ask others for candid feedback.

Honest songwriting. If you’re writing music that is true to your heart, despite the cheesiness of that idiom, you really will write better stuff and increase your chances of getting licensed. If you love it, at least you have a social proof of 1 person to start out with. Some artists choose to write with a specific licensing opportunity in mind, and some artists just write for themselves. Either way can work very well as long as you are writing something that resonates with you.

Create unique moments. Songs with specific parts that hit you at your core, or change the mood of the song dramatically, are perfect for many independent films and ads. Try to write in a moment during your song that would fit perfectly with a film’s climax, shocking twist or somber scene. Basically, write something that evokes intense emotion.

WriteWrite constantly. Adam admitted that anything is licensable given that the sonic quality is well-done. The more songs you produce, the better chance you have of getting your song placed. Write for several genres, and constantly try new things. You never know what a client is looking for, and often the needs are extremely diverse.

You can be as successful as you want to be. Several artists make full-time livings off of licensing through sites like The Music Bed. Income can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars each month. The more time and energy you can dedicate to licensing, the better chances you will have of reaping the monetary benefits and increased exposure that often come along with these opportunities.

My conversation with Adam was encouraging because it gives artists the freedom to write music that is authentic to them and genre non-specific. What filmmakers and other licensing clients are looking for is emotion-evoking music with high sonic-quality. Those that can do this consistently and with a unique voice can benefit greatly from this major source of income for many artists.  

John Steen is an independent artist, blogger and podcaster based in Dallas, TX. To check out his podcast “Sound and Substance” for indie artists, click here. To check out his daily blog for creatives, click here.

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