With the gradual crumbling of the sales of physical supports such as Cds and DVDs, more and more of music revenues rotate around live activities and sync licenses. The astonishing amount of daily submissions we receive at BeatPick.com is a clear demonstration of the attention independent artists are now focusing on Music Licensing Services.
While many of these services appear to accept virtually every submission, regardless of the quality and market section they are targeting, at BeatPick we’re very proud of the fact that ever since our birth in February 2006 we have listened to every single submission, and have selected our catalogue with extreme care. What we would like to share with readers today are 5 simple hints which will make a musician’s submission to quality-based licensing services more likely to be accepted. And in the long run also to be amongst the tracks eventually chosen as music for film, music for advertising and many more uses by these services’ clients.
- QUALITY CONTROL. Obviously, the music comes before everything. Nowadays recording possibilities are practically infinite: from domestic intimate room recordings to high cost studio productions, a good sound is possible in fashions that just a decade ago no one would have imagined.
A poor recording is a clear message on how seriously you take your music. To control your volumes, balancing and distorsion levels, our suggestion is to compress the track into an mp3 track at 192 kbps, and play it immediately after one in the same format by one of your favourite well-known artists. If there is a massive drop in volume or in sound quality, you need to re-think what you’re doing. Another good suggestion is to listen to your recordings on at least 3 different reproduction systems, and possibly both in headphones and on speakers, and not just be content with them sounding good on one. You do not know in what way people you’re sending music to will be hearing it, so make sure it sounds good in all conditions.
- FORMATS. Wav files have exactly the same quality as CD audio, and thus might appear as the most obvious solution. However this is actually more of a myth than not. The truth is these are very heavy files, and take up space and time with their downloads and sending. It’s unlikely that until your music is accepted a music supervisor will be happy dealing with it in such heavy formats.
Why not make life easier for yourself and for your eager listener by providing nice, common and light mp3s when submitting?
On that note, you may think it’s a good thing to send uncommon and ultimate generation formats such as m4a, flac, aif, ogg. This is surely a mistake: you risk that your listener has to start downloading codecs and programs to get round to your submission. Irritating is the last thing you want to be.
- TAGGING AND DEFINING TRACKS. Who in the world wants to receive a track called “track 01”, with no indication whatsover on the artist, let alone on further information? In a large pool of tracks this type of naming simply means getting lost.
The preferred format is no doubt a very simple “Artist Name – Track Name”. If you’re feeling super diligent you might even want to edit the file’s metadata with some further info such as Album title, year, composer name and more.
- YOUR BIO. There are many different ways of writing a good biography. Yet these vary according to context. In terms of music licensing a long collection of dates and music schools (unless extremely significant ones) is not a particularly brilliant approach.
Let’s be frank here. A music supervisor is reading your bio in search of very precise information:
- What makes your project special and worth investing upon? Anectdotes and somewhat funny attitude often works there. What is really sad is instead listing a series of adjectives stating how wonderful everything you touch is. Let others decide that, and be humble as most great musicians are.
- What have been your major achievements in the music business? If you’ve played concerts with any major bands, or had any successful tunes, definitely worth mentioning it.
- Have you had any licensing success stories?
- How seriously do you take your music and are you around to last? Try focusing on recent events rather than 1980s successes and how as a kid you learnt the piano. It shows you are active in promoting your career rather than nostalgic.
- KNOW WHAT YOU’RE SUBMITTING AND WHOM YOU’RE SENDING IT TO. Do keep track of what you’re submitting. It’s a demonstration of poor organization to be accepted by a music licensing service and end up asking them what you had actually sent. Also, if you keep a track on these activities, you can send periodic follow ups to these services to check if they have heard, or actually received your files.
Pay major attention to samples in your music. An unauthorized use of samples will certainly tick your name off any licensing service’s list.
And, ultimately, read as much as possible on the services you are submitting music to. Their policy (we for example use Creative Commons licenses), fee dividends and contracts are extremely diverse, and you should be aware of this. Receiving a mass-mail sent to all such services together is a sign of scarse attention on the artist’s part, as there are different reasons to join different services.
Not to mention how we have received a couple of submissions addressed to “Dear BeatPort”. Pity that we’re actually BeatPick.