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Why Your Song Isn’t Getting Placed in a TV Show (and How To Fix It)

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Ari Herstand
Ari Herstand
Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based musician, the founder and CEO of Ari’s Take and the author of How to Make It in the New Music Business.
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If you want your music in film, TV shows, and video games, check out the Ari’s Take Academy course Advanced Sync Strategies for Film, TV and Video Games.

It seems every artist is trying to figure out how to get their songs licensed to TV shows, film, trailers and commercials.

And rightfully so, there can be a lot of money in it.

But it’s not easy. And there are only so many placement opportunities. Only so many songs each TV show can use. Only one song each commercial can use. Only one song each trailer can use. You get the point.

The people who handle the placement of music in TV shows are called music supervisors. Or supe for short.

These supes are responsible for finding the right songs for each spot in each episode that requires a song. And, most importantly, clearing the rights to use this song.

+How To Get Songs Placed on TV and in Movies

There is a reason supes don’t like dealing with artists directly. It’s not because they don’t like artists.

Most artists don’t understand what rights they control.

If you wrote the song by yourself (no co-writers) and self released the song (no label) and you aren’t signed to a publishing company then you own, what supes like to call, “200%.” 100% for the sound recording (master) and 100% for the composition (the song).

Now, if you co-wrote any songs, you DON’T own 100% of the composition and a supe is required to clear 100% of every composition. So if you send a song to a supe and they LOVE it and want to use it, they can’t unless they clear all the rights. If your co-writer happens to be signed to Sony/ATV then that supe is going to have to negotiate their percentage with Sony/ATV who will most likely demand far too much than the supe has in their budget for the song and you’ll lose that sync placement.

+How To Get All Your Royalties

If your co-writer isn’t signed to a publishing company, the supe still needs permission for their percentage, but you can ask your co-writers to give you permission to clear their percentage to speed the process up.

But again, most supes have stopped dealing directly with artists because they have been screwed over too many times by artists’ ignorance.

So! Don’t be ignorant.

The number one reason I hear from supes why they don’t use songs is because, wait for it, lack of metadata.

So now you’re asking “what’s metadata?!” It’s basically just the info baked within the track that when opened, you can see all the info from contact info, ownership, etc.

If you have iTunes you can do this really simply.

These days, when sending songs out, only send mp3s. Not wavs. “But Ari! Wavs are such higher quality why would I send a lowfi mp3?!” Mp3s are just easier. They can stream it quick. Download it if they want. If they decide to use your song they’ll ask for the wav. But the biggest reason not to send wavs is because metadata doesn’t stay intact in wavs. They do with mp3s

+How To Send Songs as Private Streamable Links

Here’s how you can do this in iTunes and what it’ll look like.

In the Comments section put “Contact: Your Name, email, phone #”

If you own 200% put that in there (100% of the master and 100% of the composition). If you don’t, don’t put that obviously. Include all contact. Like “100% of master: Ari Herstand, 555-555-5555, ari@aristake.com | 50% of composition Ari Herstand, 50% of composition Sony/ATV Peter Thompsen, 555-555-5555, petert@sony.com“

If you get permission from your co-writers to clear it for synch you can put “I own 200%.”

Most supes only like dealing with synch specialists, but now you’re a synch specialist so if you get the opportunity to pitch a supe, you’ll be prepared.

Go get em tiger!

+Songwriters! Registering with ASCAP or BMI is Not Enough To Get Paid!

About The Author

Ari Herstand
Ari Herstand
Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based musician, the founder and CEO of Ari’s Take and the author of How to Make It in the New Music Business.

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