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Dos & Don’ts: How to Contact Music Supervisors

Last updated September 2019
 
Music supervisors are music-to-picture gatekeepers, responsible for selecting the tracks and closing the deals between artists and productions.
 
If you’re an artist who’s trying to win the ear of music supervisors for film and tv, here are the 10 best & worst practices from the seasoned pros behind, “Music Supervision: The Complete Guide to Selecting Music for Movies, TV, Games & New Media.”


Music supervisors will often narrow down their focus to a handful of publishing companies, agents, and labels that they know and trust. This helps them get deals done quickly and efficiently.
Check out our suggestions on what you need to consider when looking for a music publisher.

— DO’s —

1. Do your research

Before contacting a music supervisor, make sure you know their work. You can use a music supervisor directory (like the Guild of Music Supervisors).
 
Blindly sending “Listen to My Music!” emails is a waste of their time and yours. Just like your music has its own sound, many music supervisors have their own brand and distinctive credits. If you’re sending cold emails to music supervisors, you’ll have a better chance if they have a track record of placing music that’s in the same vein as your work.

2. Take advantage of the subject line

Demonstrate that you studied up on each supervisor with an intelligently-crafted subject line in your initial email. If your EDM is perfect for a particular Netflix series, differentiate your email or social media intro with, “Techno for ‘Vampire Zombies’ nightclub scenes.” The music supervisor on the receiving end will appreciate that you’re paying attention.

3. Make music that’s authentically yours

Music supervisors looking for songs typically want music that’s real and will resonate with the audience. If your music comes from the heart, your odds for success will greatly improve.
 
Likewise, writing a song about tires, for the sole purpose of placing it in a Goodyear commercial, probably won’t get you very far.

4. Have a unique presentation

Established music supervisors receive countless pitches from musicians, music libraries, managers and A&R reps. Most often it’s an email with a generic heading, boilerplate copy, and a link to a YouTube video or a SoundCloud file. They may also receive a manila envelope with a thumb drive and a forgettable cover letter.
 
These emails and envelopes mostly go unopened and are usually trashed.
 
Try something different to get attention. Send a box of donuts. Write a unique or personal email header. Anything that sets you apart will increase your chances of getting them to open the email or envelope and give it a listen.

5. Be polite and persistent

There’s a fine line between being politely persistent and coming across as annoying.
A general rule is to attempt to contact them three times, maximum.

  • Send an email or an envelope
  • Attempt to reach out to ask if they received it
  • Ask whether they have a use for your music
  •  
    If you’re polite and persistent and you don’t land a deal right away, the music supervisor might keep you in mind for future projects. It’s a small world, after all. No need to burn bridges.


    Sync up with Matt FX to learn about the taste-making process of music supervision and making moves as a producer & DJ.

    — DON’Ts —

    1. Don’t hit up music supervisors who don’t want to be contacted

    Music supervisors like Thomas Golubic (“Better Call Saul,” “Breaking Bad,” “The Walking Dead”) would love to hear your music, but be sure to check if they have a policy. Most professionals don’t have time for unsolicited submissions. The issue isn’t just about listening to your music – it’s also being sure that a song is something they can clear easily.

    2. Don’t cold-call music supervisors on the phone

    While there’s an essence of bravado and self-confidence evident in cold calling, it’s a bit of a red flag. Do you like calls out of the blue? If music supervisors have multiple ongoing projects, they may be managing dozens of active contacts. They also might be waiting for an important call.
     
    Find another way to make that first contact via social media, email, attending an event, or – and this is the best way – building an audience that’s passionate about your music. That way, the music supervisors may come to you.

    3. Don’t send attachments in a cold email

    Attaching music files to an initial email is a rookie mistake. A big attachment might get your email jettisoned into a spam folder before your target music supervisor even has the chance to see it.
     
    Send a link to your track, or better yet, simply introduce yourself and ask them if they’d be interested in receiving a link to your music. If they say “yes,” then you’ve started a dialogue.
     
    Tip: Always link to a WAV file instead of an MP3.

    4. Don’t submit music that isn’t exactly within the requested genre or style

    If you have received a creative brief or song style request by a music supervisor, make sure you give them what they asked for. Nothing is more frustrating when you’re looking for one thing and you receive something that’s the wrong genre, tempo, or has vocals when they wanted an instrumental.

    5. Don’t sell yourself as a “jack of all trades”

    No one is great at everything. Put your ego aside, and market yourself based on your strengths. Any time a composer or producer introduces themselves as a master of all genres, the red flag of warning immediately goes up.
     
    Any experienced music supervisor looking for songs knows that the best of any genre comes from those who specialize in those genres. Stick to what you’re great at and offer your services with that style first and foremost. If you prove yourself on a first project, who knows what else will follow.


    Ramsay Adams, Dave Hnatiuk, and David Weiss: Co-Authors & Music Supervisors | “Music Supervision: The Complete Guide to Selecting Music for Movies, TV, Games & New Media”
    Get the guide on Amazon and at www.musicsupervision101.com.

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