As musical director of Music For Sport, a niche production music library specializing in sports music, I receive many submissions from composers. I’m sure my colleagues in other music libraries do too. Although it’s a bit daunting at times, I’m generally very appreciative of this: new music is the life-blood of our business, and ‘cold’ submissions are one of the ways new talent gets noticed. But I do sometimes wish that composers and producers would give themselves a better chance, and get a bit savvier about the whole process of music submission.
There are many different approaches composers and producers use to submit music, good and bad, successful and unsuccessful. In fact submitting music is an art in itself. And any composer wishing to get his or her music successfully placed, needs to learn that art.
When I first started submitting music, forty years ago, the business was very much a people business. It usually involved a meeting in an office somewhere in Soho. Typically, you would go in, shake hands with a music exec or two, have a cup of tea, tell them a bit about yourself, and then sit nervously while they listened to a couple of your tracks. A little more chat, and then it was out of the door with a breezy, “We’ll let you know!” ringing in your ears.
And as you walked away, you just hoped you had done enough in those fifteen minutes to present yourself well, and give your music the best possible shot.
Submitting To Music Libraries – 2017 Style
Today, as a rule, it’s a very different story. You don’t get a meeting. You don’t get fifteen minutes. You don’t have to look sharp, or have a shave, or buy a return trip to London. And you certainly don’t get invited for a drink in the pub afterwards if the meeting went well!
What you do get to do, is to send an email. That’s it. The whole process has reduced to a few words of text, and a bunch of hyperlinks. Blimey, what a change!
But the fundamentals of the business have not changed. You still need to project your personality successfully. You still have to introduce your music in a positive way. You still have to articulate your ideas. You still have to get your feet under the table.
So How Do I Successfully Submit Music To Music Libraries?
Well, you will need to put some hard work in, and you will need a bit of luck. The best strategy is keeping it simple. You have to get a few key elements right. Most importantly, you want to ensure that the recipient actually listens to your music.
A word of warning: a badly written email will probably just end up in the bin before a note of music has been heard. It’ll be treated like spam.
So just in case you are about to send off a bunch of emails, with multiple bcc‘s, to a generic database of music libraries, please pause and consider these Do’s and Don’ts.
If you bear them in mind, they will definitely aid your musical submission process.
The overall aim is to get your music placed.
The initial aim is to get your music listened to.
First of all the Do’s:
- Do your research. MCPS has a list of libraries that provides a good starting point. Pick a likely candidate and find out all you can about it from the company website and Google.
- Do make sure you find the answers to these five key questions: Does the library include your genre of music? (There’s no point in submitting traditional folk tracks to a Hip-Hop label for example.) Does it give guidelines for music submission? (If so, I suggest you follow these carefully.) Does it offer multiple versions and mixes of tracks? (This will involve a lot more work on your part, something you will need to plan for.) Is the library royalty-free, or MCPS based? And does it have foreign sub-publishers? (This will give you an idea of your potential income streams.)
- Do develop an idea of what is required, how your music would fit, and what your angle should be.
- Do find a contact name for the person you are submitting to. (“Hello” just doesn’t cut it as an opening gambit.) And then send a targetted, well written, personalized email.
- Do tell the recipient a bit about yourself, the musical genre you work in, and your musical background and current projects. Describe your music in a few well-chosen words. Keep it light and brief: a couple of paragraphs is fine.
- Do attach a pdf CV or resume if you want people to get a fuller understanding of what you do, and to see who you have worked with.
- Do make sure the email is readable. Check the spelling and the grammar. You don’t want to come over as unprofessional. You need to portray yourself as enthusiastic, capable, and very pro. You want the recipient to think: “Yes, this person sounds great. I want to listen to their tracks.”
- Do enclose links in your email to two or three of your best, and most suitable current tunes. Bear in mind, less is more. Use SoundCloud, YouTube, or similar as your method of delivery. You might want to track the links with a site like Bitly. That way you can monitor how they are performing.
- Do attach a jpeg of yourself or your band. It is still a people business after all, and people like to see the face behind the music.
- Do confirm (or otherwise) that you are looking to work on an exclusive basis for your tracks. A lot of libraries will insist upon this. If you are offering tracks on a non-exclusive basis, (i.e. sharing your music with various libraries, a different business model), it’s a good idea to make this clear at this stage. It will save misunderstandings later.
- Do confirm that you are a member of a performing right society, such as PRS. If you’re not, you can find out about joining PRS here.
- Don’t send out generic bcc, or worse, cc emails. It’s impolite, and music libraries get hundreds of these. They are effectively, spam.
- Don’t send CDs or DVDs, or attach wavs, aiffs, mp3s, or any other audio files. It’s bad etiquette, and unnecessary. Use links instead.
- Don’t confuse things by sending multiple links to multiple projects and tracks. Again, less is more. Keep it simple.
- Don’t be disappointed if you don’t get a quick reply. You never know what may follow. It’s possible your music did hit the mark, but wasn’t exactly what was required at that particular time. You may be surprised to find you get a call out of the blue, a few months down the line, asking you to do an album for that library.
How To Improve Your Chances Of Successfully Submitting Your Music To Music Libraries.
To recap: invest your time in well researched, well written, personalized emails to music libraries that you like the look and sound of, and that you think may be receptive to your kind of music. And persevere. You make your own luck.
- Research. It’s what you know that counts.
- Email. Be polite, enthusiastic, informed, and interesting.
- Persevere. Follow up. Develop more research and new strategies based on what you find works best for you. Keep writing new music. And keep putting it out there!
Submitting Music To Music Libraries: Some Helpful Tips For Composers by Simon Webb
Simon Webb is a UK Theatre, TV and film composer. He is Musical Director and CEO of Music For Sport Ltd.