In our ongoing attempt to figure out music licensing and evaluate what services have some real potential, we asked Barry Coffing, CEO of MusicSupervisor.com, about his company and the licensing biz.
What is Musicsupervisor.com?
Based in Los Angeles, CA, MusicSupervisor.com runs an online system where those involved in the selection of music for film and TV can quickly access a wide selection of music. Their online platform is clean and simple. Barry emphasizes that it’s for professionals only. Artists interested in submitting their music must have their recordings pass a sound-quality screening first, and they also make sure you understand the business of licensing, too.
MusicSupervisor.com Quick Stats:
- 1,700 Labels and Composers have their music in the system with an average of 4 new ones added a day.
- 3000+ tracks are listened to every month on the site by music supervisors looking for music
- A full tracking system tells each artist every time a track is listened to, downloaded, licensed and how much money is due, in real time.
- Over 20% of every project listed licenses at least one track
Here’s what Barry had to say…
What strategy would you recommend for an indie artist with a limited budget to get their music licensed?
It costs a lot of money to make CD’s and mail them out to people you don’t know. Anyone that takes money saying they will get you placed is full of shit. There are no guarantees. Here’s the thing: you can’t buy your way in on this. When they’re looking for your kind of music, they are. When they’re not, they’re not.
It all comes down to this: does your song look good with the picture they’re syncing it to?
Some companies say they are going to advertise your music and you’ll get placements. To a music supervisor, publicity means nothing. If you’re not famous and your song is not on the charts THEY DON’T CARE. All the pretty pictures and critical raves won’t get you in their picture unless the music fits.
The industry’s deep dark secret that no one wants to say is that most supervisors hate getting your CDs. Music supervisors want your music but only when they need it. Digital delivery is the new catchword, they want a system that’s online that they can access quickly. They have such tremendous deadlines. They need the right music right now, and they need the contracts signed on the spot.
Should artists be wary of licensing companies that charge upfront fees?
They’ve already made their money. Though Taxi isn’t bad if you live in the middle of nowhere and need song critiques but if your songs are great and recorded well, Taxi is not for you. If a company doesn’t make a dime if your music is placed then placing music is not their business.
Should an artist try to contact music supervisors directly?
If they can, sure. But how many hours in a day does a musician have? Most supervisors get hundreds of CD’s a month. There is no way they can listen to them all and that is the big dilemma. How do music supervisors get great music and not get buried listening to crap, and how do great artists get their music heard at the right time by the right person?
Are there certain characteristics that make a song well-suited for film?
Most licensed music shares these basic characteristics:
Vibe – it has a readily identifiable vibe. Supervisors are buying emotion. They want the music that creates the mood, something that sounds like a party, for example, or the soundtrack to a heartbreak.
Vagueness of lyrics – The more specific lyrics are, the fewer scenes they can work in. Sparse lyrics work well, as they won’t step all over dialogue. Or having repetitive phrases, that fall into the background. Whereas most mixes for CD have the vocals way out front, for licensing, the vocals usually need to fall into the background.
Separate vocal and instrumental mixes – The most demanding TV shows / films require an instrumental version and a separate lead vocal stereo track mixed down with all the effects on it, so they can completely control the volume of lead vocal. This is a very high-end requirement; not all shows or films will ask for it.
Thanks Barry! Stay tuned for a comparison of several major services, where we review fees and royalty splits, and other good stuff…If you want your business included, send me an email at brian(a)themusicsnob.com