Music Licensing: What Music Supervisors Listen For

Visual Mediums, New Revenue

Yes, in addition to music videos and radio opportunities do exist for getting your music placed in visual media such as movies, TV shows, corporate videos, sports shows, commercials, video games and other media. While an exciting thought and fans may love your work it has to make sense for the medium. Getting your music placed isn’t about finally reaching a music supervisor and getting them listening to your tracks. It begins with artists and producers creating the right song for particular type of film, moment in a television commercial or keeping players engaged in a video game. You may not realize it because you’re caught up in what you’re actually watching but music plays a huge part in the emotion. As an artist, you’ve developed a story line for a new music video (visual)…didn’t you keep the music on the forefront creating the story? Music is influential and helps sets the tone for most visual types.

Exposure from placement on visual platforms sets you up for new audiences. Audiences watching a movie, playing a game, learning something from a corporate video…“hey, what song is that?” And great news for independent artists – an advantage of being independent is that if discovered and the licensing process goes smooth chances of placement in a visual may be greater because the cost could be significantly less than those otherwise established or major. Unlike other areas in the industry, placement doesn’t require big artist features, a million streams or 57.4K instagram followers. If the music is good, supervisors and clients feel it will work for the platform and your business is in order for getting permissions to license the music…there you go. Finally, talent first in line.

Getting a music supervisor’s attention isn’t easy, it’s possible, but not easy. Record labels and publishers are in place to pitch on an artist’s behalf, it does take work and research but independent/unsigned artists can also do it themselves. Music supervisors go about discovering music in different ways, some include listening to playlists, press publicity, label managers, trusted recommendations, social media, A&R reps, writers, publishers, what’s happening on charts, attending industry events and fellow licensing representatives.


In addition to amazing storylines in movies, locations and dated wardrobe in period pieces for example, music playing in any scene influences feelings and emotion. Film directors discuss stories with music supervisors so they have an idea of what to search for externally (or consider when you, artist, approach them) to help set the tone desired by the filmmaker. To do its job to influence audiences and fans to engage and be involved, no matter the platform your music has to fit the scene or moment.

Music licensing is very involved and can be difficult to navigate. Experts are in place but as an artist there’s something you can do now to save yourself and music supervisors a ton of time. Start watching your favorite shows, viewing commercials, movies, listening to games, etc., in a different way. Watch, but more so listen to the type of music being played. Projects and brands you want to be a part of, involve yourself in the production in this way. No matter who’s pitching music supervisors it’s very important that the right song is pitched for the production.

About Kalandra Robinson 16 Articles
Bay Area native and John F. Kennedy University Alum, Kalandra is a Writer and Podcast host. She enjoys research and writing on industry topics in entertainment, lifestyle, entrepreneurship, business and emerging technologies. Other aspirations include writing an independent film.

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