You often read blogs about music licensing that touch upon the importance of what to include in your email pitch, how to find who to contact about a project, and even how to position your music for greater success in the world of licensing.
What often goes unsaid, however, are the small, yet important, details (known as micro-tasks) that make the difference between a migraine-inducing process and a money-generating one.
When submitting music for licensing, be prepared and treat each submission as if it's already been chosen. Below are five things you can do to organize your files and data to not only lock down potential deals but also make the process of submitting your songs a breeze rather than a tornado.
1. Embed all tracks with complete metadata
Upon mastering your tracks, make sure each file is complete with the correct metadata, which includes the track's credits, as anyone licensing your song(s) will need this for his or her records. It's also helpful to have this metadata available in a text file should you need to include it in an email or on a required form.
Metadata is important for licensing so that licensees can get in touch with you, ensure they have everyone's permission to use the song, and draw up the proper agreements. It includes:
- the album title
- the title of the track
- the genre
- the authors/composers
- the year it was recorded
- the sample rate
- the duration of the track
- relevant contact info (including your full name and email)
2. Copyright your music before you submit
Avoid submitting anything with an uncleared sample to ensure you don't screw up a potential deal. It's also important to realize no one will agree to license your original music if it is not properly copyrighted. Deals can often happen very quickly, and you don't want to hold things up by waiting for the copyright office to review and file your application.
3. Create a master spreadsheet for all song metadata
With deals moving as quickly as they sometimes can, it's important to have your entire catalog's metadata available at your fingertips. It's best to keep a spreadsheet with every song's title, genre, copyright info including all author(s) contact information, and the copyright registration number(s) in one place should you need to reference any piece of information during the licensing process.
4. Visualize where you could hear your music
It's helpful, especially if you have a significant number of songs in your arsenal, to have certain information available at a glance when preparing to submit to certain opportunities. Using that same master spreadsheet, include a column for "sounds like" to elaborate on the genre and notable instrumentation, as that will usually be what people will include in their requests (i.e., "sounds like Bruno Mars with significant horns").
Additionally, having a column for "perfect for" with notes on the type of media for which you would consider the song an ideal match (i.e., horror film, car commercial, etc.) will allow you to quickly scan which songs might be right for a project.
5. Keep a master contact list of people to whom you've submitted
Much like the master list of song metadata, having a growing list of music supervisors or licensing agents you've reached out to is just as useful.
Creating columns for their contact info, the date you first reached out, the status on your follow ups, what songs you've sent, any feedback they've provided, as well as a fact or two about them and what they're currently working on will help you track your progress, set reminders for future follow ups, and strengthen your relationships by being able to reference where you left off when you next reach out to them.
Always remember at the end of the day this is a business. Having this information organized and readily available will not only make the process of pitching your songs easier but also show anybody who chooses to work with you that you're a true professional and ready to deliver whatever it is they may need, which is the best way to ensure future work and a sustainable career in the industry.
Suzanne Paulinski is a mindset coach and founder of The Rock/Star Advocate. She helps music industry professionals gain confidence and clarity in their goals with a healthy work/life balance. Her book,The Rock/Star Life Planner is now available on Amazon.