There are no short answers when it comes to the definition of indie music. While some use indie to describe where artists of all genres are at in the industry, it has also become synonymous with an edgy guitar-based pop sound over the years.
Today, indie is an extension of the music that the indie pioneers created when they started to break away from the big four record labels (EMI, Warner, Universal and Sony). To definitively understand the definition of indie music, we have to get to grips with how it came around and became a descriptor for a particular off-kilter sonic style
A Micro History of Indie
The indie uprising started in the 1970s – although the roots of independent music go back to the soul, blues and Motown independent labels in the 50s. In the 70s, distinctions arose between artists on major record labels and artists independent of them.
The new wave, post-punk and alternative music releases in the late 70s started to fall under the indie category while picking up traction amongst music fans eager to hear music that was far more visceral, real and experimental. This new aural hunger led to Tony Wilson creating a roster at Factory Records, Daniel Miller establishing Mute and Chris Parry following suit with his label, Fiction, in 1978.
The Manchester-based outfit, The Smiths, were a pivotal part of UK Indie history; once they were on the Rough Trade roster in the mid-80s, they created a cultural movement with their politically aware, socially conscious and poetically morose lyrics. The Smiths inspired countless acts keen to emanate the jangle-pop guitars and the hooky despite the melancholy energy. Just a few of the indie acts that are under the influence of the Smiths are Blur, Pulp, The XX, Frightened Rabbit and The Killers.
Indie started to manifest in the industry in plenty of other ways from the 80s onwards, from indie dance to indie folk to indie hip hop, swathes of artists started to adopt the DIY ethos after watching the success of indie pioneers, such as Joy Division and Depeche Mode. Although indie artists are experimental as a default, the genre amassed characteristics over the years, such as bands having a cultural identity, almost existentialist mentality and being heavier than pop but lighter than rock.
The indie acts springing up under Sub Pop in Seattle in the 80s were far noisier and more discordant than UK indie acts. The independent label, Sub Pop, signed Soundgarden,Mudhoney and Sonic Youth and gave way to the grunge era that defined the 90s in America.
Technically, when independent artists, such as REM and Nirvana, signed multi-million-dollar record deals with major labels, they should have lost their indie status. Instead, their indie status remained for the culture that all of the indie bands since the 70s collectively created.
Today, indie music isn’t *quite* as popular as it was when it peaked in the 90s, but there are still thriving independent grassroots music scenes all across the UK and across the globe. In 2021, independent artists can take advantage of countless indie music blogs, indie playlists, indie radio stations and indie magazines to grow their fanbases away from major labels.
Promoting music as an independent artist can be disheartening and confusing for new artists trying to find their place in the indie marketplace. This guide will help you navigate the best ways to make an impression and help you to avoid some of the common pitfalls artists stumble into when trying to reach streaming milestones, boost sales and increase fan engagement.
How to Promise Indie Music: 5 Helpful Industry-Recommended Tips
Build Your Brand Before Distributing Music
Image is everything when it comes to promoting independent music. It gives potential fans and useful industry contacts the chance to know who you are as an artist before hitting play on your music or working through a lengthy bio.
Your artist photos, cover art, press kits, website and social media feeds should all reinforce the image that you want to put out into the world. Always stay consistent. There’s nothing wrong with the DIY method when creating your artwork, artist photos and website, but it is worth remembering that if you want to appeal to professionals, you have to look…professional.
Create a PR Plan
Your list of industry contacts will be your best asset in promoting music as an independent artist. Weeks before the release, try to drum up momentum on your new release by giving exclusive access to radio stations; if you’ve got a music video, choose a blog or magazine to run the premiere. Playlists and getting your music distributed on all major streaming platforms should not be overlooked.
If paying for PR isn’t feasible for this release, you can contact the blogs, playlist curators, radio stations, magazines and promotors yourself. It might be harder to pique interest as an unestablished artist, but with the perfect pitch that proves why you’re a good fit and being discerning with who you contact, you have got a good chance of gaining some traction with your new release.
Get Involved in Your Local Scene
The internet may provide a wealth of opportunities for exposure but playing it local at the beginning of your career can help you build valuable connections. You will get the opportunities to share a fan base, get snapped by gig photographers, make an impression on other members of the industry that happen to be there; if you are lucky, there will be a live review in it for you. See who similar bands are getting booked and by and take the time to reach out to them, explaining why you think they’ll love your sound too.
Not only is playing live a great way to get exposure, but it can also provide a valuable income. Just be wary of scammy pay to play promotors that are more interested in lining their own pockets than helping grassroots artists thrive.
Social media is very much a necessary evil for independent artists; the music industry builds thriving communities with like-minded people, give the people on your level a chance to connect with you on your posts. Posts about tours and releases are essential but it is crucial to keep your fans engaged between big announcements.
Create regular posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok that remain consistent with your brand and show how much you appreciate your fans. If you only have a small online following, it may be a little frustrating to get low engagement at first, but your time spent will pay off in the long run.
Create a Viral-Worthy Music Video
With enough creativity at your disposal, it doesn’t matter if you have thousands to splash on an official music video or a £50 budget to work with. Videos and other visual media content are great for social media content; even if your track isn’t a hit on the radio, a viral-worthy video is your chance to blow up online. Good music videos do one of two things, they either explore a deeper meaning in the song that isn’t conveyed in the lyrics or find a quirky way to connect with the listener.
Build Credibility with Bloggers and Journalists
Even if your sound isn’t big in your hometown, the internet provides international opportunities to connect with niche communities. Your gateway to niche communities can come through getting featured on blogs and magazines that are always looking for the next big thing in their specified genre. Always respect a blog or magazine’s genre preferences; you’re not going to win anyone over by ignoring their submission preferences.
Submit Indie Music to A&R Factory
A&R Factory has become one of the top 10 UK artist repertoire services for independent artists looking for exposure. Since our 2012 inception, we have featured thousands of independent artists on our platform. Submit indie music to our blog, or get in contact with a member of our PR team to hear how we can do more to help you reach your goals and milestones.
What defines hip hop music and what hip hop music has come to represent in culture are two very different phenomena. Hip hop can be instantly recognisable by the canter of rapid-fire vocals and familiar patterns of the 808s. However, hip hop transcends sonic style to embrace an artistic edge that is solely synonymous with the genre.
Since hip hop music was born in the Bronx in the 70s, it has become a way to celebrate, confront and narrate the highs and lows of existence.
Hip hop became a way of seeing the world that resonated in minds across the globe. The popularity of hip hop had plenty to do with how it exposed wealth equality and disparity in 1970s America and offered compassion to everyone that found themselves on the wrong side of the rich-poor divide. Perhaps most importantly, hip hop offered an alternative to apathy for marginalised groups in society, resistance.
Lil Baby, Juice WRLD, Drake, Eminem and Kevin Gates are just a handful of the artists taking up their well-deserved space on the Billboard music charts in 2021. It is safe to say that the cultural influence that established in the 70s is just as essential now than it was back then. If you need any further convincing, look at the change-invoking art that transpired as part of the Black Lives Matter movement. Hip hop became the soundtrack to the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020 as the artists paid ode to a tradition much earlier than the invention of hip hop music itself. Fighting oppression was a major theme in the James Brown era of blues music, taking the Isley Brothers and their single, Fight the Power, as a perfect example, but no one fought the power with the same fire as the early hip hop pioneers such as Tupac, Run DMC, De La Soul & Rakim.
A Short History of Hip Hop Music
DJ Kool Herc made history happen in August 1973 when he filled a dancefloor by isolating and extending percussion breaks while spinning the same dance record on twin turntables. The other big-name DJs in the Bronx were paying close attention and found inspiration in Herc’s experimental ethos that was later defined by two principles:
Utilising talent and available resources to create something new.
Emulating others but finding your own voice and groove.
The founding principles of hip hop music go a long way in explaining how the genre evolved so rapidly through the past few decades; it spoke to a growing movement of urban philosophers, poets and visual artists who all wanted to make their impact. Simply put, hip hop became a platform like no other.
The middle-classes did their best to ignore the hip hop revolution, but the pioneers persevered and kept pushing their messages that threatened to shake them out of complacency. Hip hop music attacked everything from urban poverty to racism to economic abandonment. The gangster rap group, N.W.A. shook the world with their iconic track, Fuck Tha Police, in 1988 before the Sugar Hill Gang proved that there was plenty more to hip hop than just aggressive narratives.
Over the years, many things became synonymous with hip hop, from the spoken-word style to the self-awareness of the artists keen to share their social and moral principles with the world. Today, hip hop encompasses a multitude of sub-genres, including, but not limited to, drill, grime, cloud rap, trap, jazz hip hop, boom bap, lo-fi hip hop, hardcore hip hop, mumble rap, nerdcore, breakbeat, ghetto house and emo rap. With artists such as Yungblud, Kae Tempest and Niki Minaj on the airwaves, we probably don’t need to point out that hip hop culture is more diverse than ever.
Submit Hip Hop Music
A&R Factory has been championing hip hop artists since 2012. Since then, we have become lauded and recognised as one of the best hip hop blogs to submit music to for artists looking to expand their reach to an international audience.
We especially want to hear from artists covering experimental ground with their sound, artists paying ode to the old school with their own lyrical flair and those looking to shift perceptions with their introspection. Submit hip hop music to our award-winning blog here.
2020 was a challenging year across almost every industry, and few took a bigger hit than the entertainment sector.
With venues around the world shutting their doors and cancelled gigs piling up, many young artists had to postpone their debut.
At the very least, they had to find an alternative way to get their music out and build a fanbase without relying on live performances.
Fortunately for these artists, TikTok came to their rescue, allowing them to grow their career from the comfort and safety of their own home.
So, what’s the deal with TikTok?
TikTok is a popular video-based social platform developed by Chinese tech giant ByteDance in 2018.
The platform started life as two different apps: Musical.ly, which launched in Shanghai in 2014, and Douyin, which was founded by ByteDance in 2016. ByteDance wanted to expand Douyin internationally, and did so under a new name in September 2017: TikTok. They then acquired Musical.ly and folded it into TikTok shortly afterwards in August 2018.
In a nutshell, TikTok allows its users to share videos of up to 60 seconds. These rapid-fire short videos of lip-syncs to popular music and viral challenges delivered via a never-ending feed make for an addictive viewing experience. According to data released by ByteDance, their U.S users open the app eight times a day, with an individual session lasting for about 4.9 minutes, which is reportedly the highest individual session time across all social media platforms.
Since TikTok’s launch in 2018, the app has racked up billions (yes, with a ‘b’) of downloads globally. The highest peak was observed during Q1 2020, which saw global audiences quarantined at home amid COVID-19. Already claiming the coveted status of “most downloaded app” for both 2018 and 2019, in April 2020, TikTok officially reached a staggering 2 billion downloads.
How musicians are using TikTok to grow (and resurrect) their careers
Although TikTok took Gen Z by storm almost instantly, older users needed a little more time to get hooked. But as soon as they did get involved, their demographic has started indulging and creating TikTok content in a big way.
Despite its rapid growth in popularity, TikTok remains a relatively new medium. As the app continues to attract new users, it creates a unique opportunity for young talent to embrace its potential.
To reach mass-awareness on TikTok, users across the world are tapping into trending memes and challenges featuring a mix of chart-topping songs, niche artists and even long-lost hits from decades past.
Matthew Wilder, the artist behind 1984 single ‘Break My Stride’, is enjoying a huge surge in popularity by going viral on TikTok, helping him to climb the charts again almost four decades later:
At time of writing, TikTok users have featured Wilder’s song on their videos over 526K times as a part of the ongoing trend.
What kind of trend could lead to such impressive streaming performance? It involves texting someone the lyrics to ‘Break My Stride’, one line at a time until they figure out what you’re doing; then you film yourself dancing in front of the text chain – and the results are astonishing. The track has recently popped up on Spotify’s Viral 50 and Apple Music’s Top 100 charts around the world, giving it a whole new lease of life.
And what about new artists?
The most famous example of a “TikTok-made” musician is Montero “Lil Nas X” Hill.
Instead of competing with other up-and-coming rappers on more popular streaming services such as SoundCloud or Spotify, this 21-years-old American rapper decided to leverage the potential of a new social media platform. His efforts to promote “Old Town Road” using TikTok proved successful, and the song eventually got picked up as a trending meme, securing millions of streams as a result.
In his interview with Time, Hill commented: “I should maybe be paying TikTok. They really boosted the song. It was getting to the point that it was almost stagnant. When TikTok hit it, almost every day since that, the streams have been up. I credit them a lot.”
TikTok creates opportunities – but can it sustain an artist’s career?
Despite many mainstream bands already taking advantage of the new social video platform, TikTok isn’t reserved only for well-established artists. On the contrary, the platform is known for causing the breakthrough success of many emerging musicians such as Powfu, SAINt JHN, BENEE or Salem Ilese.
Several previously unknown musicians made their name thanks to being a part of the popular trends, memes and challenges thatTikTok thrives on. However, with music always being at the core of TikTok’s value proposition, the discovery of niche artists quickly becomes a massive part of the app’s identity.
Search trends clearly show what we think of as “TikTok songs” are growing in popularity across the world. The app has been incredibly successful so far in generating online streams to springboard lesser-known artists into the charts, as well as driving their explosive social media following.
A UK-based video production studio, Nibble Video, has recently released TikTok earnings data that investigates how much money TikTok artists could make in online royalties as a result of going viral on the platform.
According to Nibble’s report, a Canadian artist, Isaiah Faber – also known as Powfu – could be making as much as £2.3M in royalties from Spotify and YouTube with his single ‘Death Bed’ alone.
“Death Bed (Coffee for Your Head)” samples the 2017 song “Coffee” by UK. indie-pop artist Beabadoobee and tells the story of a man confessing his love while on his deathbed. Since the tune was uploaded to Powfu’s YouTube channel back in April, it has already accumulated over 247M views,as well as being featured in over 5.8M videos on TikTok.
But apart from online royalties, Faber has also benefited from an ever-increasing following across his social media channels. According to data collected by Soundcharts, his fan base on popular social media platforms such as Instagram saw a significant uplift as soon as ‘Death Bed’ took off virally.
Since Powfu is already making a significant profit from online streaming thanks to a single song, it stands to reason that he could benefit greatly from his Instagram presence in the long-term.
With almost 382K followers on Instagram, Powfu could be charging as much as £1.6K for a single post if he’d choose to become a paid influencer. [source: Inkifi]
TikTok’s impact on the music industry
Although there are many examples of artists who have had their music career skyrocket because of TikTok, the social media platform still sparks controversy.
Even with Donald Trump publicly criticising TikTok and demanding a blanket country-wide ban in the US due to privacy concerns, the company behind TikTok is still one of the world’s most profitable start-ups, its value circulating around $50B.
But as the profit of the start-up grows, one question is still being asked – do musicians make enough off their TikTok success?
The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee has recently launched an inquiry into the economics of music streaming, urging the UK government to look into the business models operated by popular streaming platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music. The inquiry aims to evaluate streaming platforms’ economic impact on the music industry for artists, record labels and record shops.
A recent poll by YouGov (on behalf of the #BrokenRecord campaign) found that 77% thought artists are not being paid enough, while 76% felt songwriters were also underpaid. In contrast, the research showed that Universal Music Group recorded whopping revenues of $1.14bn in the last quarter despite the global pandemic and economic downturn.
During the first inquiry hearing last week, equitable remuneration, increased transparency and user-centric streaming models were put forward as ways in which the industry could be reformed and made fairer for artists. At the hearing, Guy Garvey, lead singer of the rock band Elbow, declared that the “system, as it is, is threatening the future of music”.
The multi-year agreement that has been developed in partnership between TikTok and NMPA was apparently designed to “enrich users’ experience and the creators of the music made available by the platform by helping them to get their music seen on a canvas with unlimited avenues for expression”, as noted by the official press release issued by NMPA.
And while TikTok is reportedly getting better at paying royalties for mainstream artists and their distributors, it leaves new and unsigned artists behind in terms of equal compensation.
Yes, it offers excellent publicity and free promotion in front of a multi-million-strong global audience, which can be quite lucrative, especially if you’re lucky enough to get involved in a major trend. But for those who don’t, TikTok does has an alternative.
Back in August, the company announced its first music distribution partnership with indie music distributor United Masters. According to TechCrunch, the deal will allow artists on TikTok to tap into the platform’s ability to make their music go viral, and then distribute their songs directly to other music streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube.
Does this mark the beginning of a whole new future of music discovery? We firmly believe so.
We are in the digital era and you have little to do about it other than conforming to the trend. If you are to succeed in your career or the music business, it is important to learn aspects of digitization and integrate it in your music. The entertainment industry has billions of enthusiasts with incredible talents in diverse music genres. To be noticed in the industry, you have to employ different tools to be up of the competition.
While there are uncountable artists in the industry, the high demand is yet to be satisfied. Music is like technology, highly dynamic. You have to integrate technology in your marketing. How would people know you exist?
Today, the internet offers a common platform for all nature of customers. Irrespective of your target audience, they are in large numbers online more than anywhere else. Irrespective of whether you are recording music as a passion or career, you need to be heard. Music is a way of communication; it is poetry, it wouldn’t make much sense if you record and listen it to yourself. You need to reach out to an audience and communicate with the rest of people.
We all dread marketing and assume it is unnecessarily difficult, but the truth is it is everything you need to succeed in business; assuming you are doing music as a career hence need to make a living. Whether you want to inspire, entertain or lead people to a supernatural being with your music, you need to promote your music. There is no better way of doing this in the 21st century like submitting to music blogs.
Some people opt to develop personal websites and blogs specifically for this purpose, sharing music. While it is a step and effort in marketing your music, it is not as effective. It can take a long time for you to gain traffic to a personal blog, months and probably years; also, you need to build reputation and trust for people to click and view your blog. The internet is full of malicious intentions hence extra care by users when accessing any sites. Patience is not the issue here, you can wait and build your blog gradually but the wait is not good for business. By the time you gather enough followers and traffic on your blog, your music style or presentation may be obsolete. You need to keep up with technology and trends.
Therefore, the best way to get your music out there for whichever purpose is submitting to professional music blogs. Various blogs offer you a platform to reach out to billions of music enthusiasts in your specific genre.
Some use music as an escape route, some to celebrate and some to calm their minds. The varying preferences are taken care of with different genres; don’t worry about the audience, identify a genre you like and put in your best. The blogs will work out the other promotion dynamics after your submission.
How to submit music to blogs
Submitting to music blogs is a trend in the entertainment industry that you should implement before it is too late. Remember business is about picking up an opportunity at the right time, time, it’s crucial.
Obviously, what you submit must be above standards. Quality is not compromised. Also, it has to be relevant and unique. You have to capture the music blogger’s eye first before you think of the wide audience accessing the blog.
Here are a few tips on how to capture a blogger’s eye
Type of music blog
Music is wide and so are music blogs. If your music is to feature on any of the blogs, it has to be relevant as per content and focus of the blog. Research extensively on nature of blogs and the kind of music tracks posted. It is simple but crucial.
Research on blog type and content will save you time and unnecessary stress. Instead of sending hundreds of emails with no feedback, which is not only frustrating to you but also annoying to the recipients, research and pitch where it is appropriate.
Every music blog has specific music submission guidelines. Be sure to follow each instruction to the core to increase your chances of being picked. There are probably thousands of similar submissions on the blog, any mistakes may not be considered. Be thorough and accurate in your submission.
Just like other blogs, most music blogs have a submission form for complaints and comments. If you are to be featured on the blog, you have to do better than sending your application through such a submission form. Take time to research on people running the blog, find the editor or someone in charge of music reviews and contact them directly if such guidelines allow.
Check on your spelling and grammar. Most of music bloggers are professional writers and would easily pick up a grammar error as a negative. While this may not be in criteria of their selection, it might count. Be on the safe side. Don’t spam, be humble, build relationships and go get them!
Listeners have more access to music more easily than ever before. Not only that, but they also have an unprecedented level of control over what they listen to. No longer are fans forced to sit by the radio or call in requests to their local DJ. Nowadays most fans are able to find their favorite artists on demand through a variety of streaming platforms. While this has been great for music lovers everywhere, artists are still learning to adapt to an ever-changing industry in the information age.
It’s also been great that artists can connect with their fans more directly than ever before, but a side-effect of this accessibility is the adverse impact on album sales. Musicians have become forced to rely more heavily on streaming, which often yields a fraction of the profits to all but the biggest artists. As a result, it’s even more difficult for bands to make a living solely from their releases. Streaming is arguably one of the best and worst things to happen to musicians in the last decade. In many ways, streaming has provided a freedom from the typical album format to allow artists the leeway to experiment with daring new sounds. For fans, it has provided access to all their favorite tunes at their fingertips, and often for free.
And it looks as though streaming will only continue to grow as the preferred mode of consumption for most listeners. It was recently announced that Tesla, (the electric auto giant, not the heavy metal band), could be launching its own streaming service dedicated to its futuristic cars. The company is apparently in talks with major labels to create an in-car entertainment service that might operate on a monthly or yearly subscription model similar to Amazon Prime. The manufacturer already has a deal with Spotify in some markets, but with its own service it could create a valuable additional revenue stream. Also, if they pay artists a little more fairly than Spotify, it could be a winning situation for everyone involved.
The issue with many streaming services often comes down to the payouts. In many cases, smaller artists receive a pittance for their efforts, and they’re no longer able to rely on music sales to provide a stable and reliable source of income. The same can also be said for most established acts looking to court the interest of a much younger and technologically savvy audience.
In order to find a way to connect with new listeners while also widening their streams of income, licensing has turned into a lucrative option for bands hoping to expand beyond album sales and touring. And this goes far beyond letting a song be used in a commercial or a movie soundtrack. Some artists have begun loaning out their likenesses to online video games, which allows them to profit from their notoriety and extend their reach to a new audience. These online slot reels feature a variety of bands with artists like Jimi Hendrix and Guns N’ Roses highlighted at the reviews for popular casinos. These games feature the artists themselves along with some of their biggest hits to create a new means of appealing to old fans while making a few new ones along the way. The end result is an innovative way to increase exposure while capitalizing on an established back-catalog. As acts continue to set up these kinds of deals, it wouldn’t be surprising to see it spread across the industry.
The digital revolution in music will likely prove to be a positive for everyone, and it’s only natural that there would be some growing pains along the way. Artists will continue to learn how to best take advantage of the resources provided by streaming and the virtually endless licensing opportunities. And we predict that things are going to work our for enterprising musicians in the long run.
So today A&R Factory had the chance to ask Scott Dudley his Top 5 Tips for Music Licensing.
Scott is theCreative Director at PUSH.audio. PUSH.audio is an emerging agency/web interface that focuses on landing placements for mainstream & burgeoning artists; placing multiple genres of music for TV / Film / Advertisements / Games etc. at the fingertips of those looking for precisely that.
His credits include BRITAwards, MTV, VH1, FOX Sports, NBA on TNT, SBNation, ESPN, FOX, NBC and many more!
A&R Factory had the chance to ask Scott his Top 5 Tips for Music Licensing.
Presentation / Metadata
Music Supervisors want the story to the song… the mood. For example, if a pitch is searching for something similar to “A Tribe Called Quest,” submit your song with a personal email. Something like “Hope all is well, I’ve attached a similar song with the ‘Golden Era’ feel,” etc. Build the relationship. Don’t just send a song and exit.
Your metadata should be very descriptive. Include lyrics, similar artists, moods. When a pitch comes in and someone looks for something specific and/or lyrics mentioning “Sunshine”, it’ll boost your chances having done this ahead.
If you are adding your songs to 3rd party libraries or allowing agents to place your music they will greatly appreciate this! It saves them time and money and allows them to hit the ground running with your current and new music.
Songs being crystal clear and 0db mastered are ESSENTIAL for any major TV/Film license. If the song is not properly mastered, most won’t listen past 10 seconds. Even an online mastering service like LANDR noticeably improves quality and levels the composition to 0dbs.
Sessions Files Available
Most agencies or supervisors will need or request changes. Sometimes it’s as simple as turning the piano down. Sometimes they need a 4 minute song crammed into a 3 minute song. To do all of this, you will need your session files available. Immediately, when you master your song you should have the Instrumental and Clean Version made as well. Some may request to have it remastered via their in-house engineer so also save the unmastered version. This is vital, keep them both saved and on hand!
The fact of the matter is, this is legwork. The most powerful relationships we have at PUSH are long-term built over multiple projects. When you work together on something great, companies tend to stick with you and keep coming back. Where to find them, some major networks will give TV Slates to the public if requested. This lists upcoming works on the network and the Music Supervisor involved.
The public pitch sheets or music pitching services I wouldn’t necessarily recommend. They are impersonal. When you release something like that to the public you are going to get a lot of junk. That’s why most connections we have come from a 1-1 relationship and a history of the music we provided to them, which leads me to my #1 tip…
THIS, in my opinion, is the MOST important. Your music is a commodity. Whether or not you gain monetary value from it is completely up to your business ethic. Have your BMI Song Splits ready with your IPI #, The Work #, ISRC # on-hand! Return contracts in a timely manner. These major companies may have 48 hours to place a song. If you happen to get a bite and they ask for Song Splits / Performing Rights Organization, etc. and you respond with “What’s that?” odds are they won’t respond, they’ll look for the next song selection.
Read your contracts. Never sign an exclusive contract without an advance. You are eating 100% of the risk. An agency can make all the promises in the world, but in the end do not let them bury you in the risk. Ask questions, be careful of giving up your publishing. If anyone is requesting to own the publishing they need to compensate you. Your music has value, if someone is requesting to lock down your music for 2+ years add a clause to terminate if no placements are made within a certain timeframe.
Email is good, but speak to your clients on the phone. Go out to them, fly out and network. Bottom line, get in that legwork!
Get in touch: Scott teaches a class over at Pyramind (http://pyramind.com). If you are a musician that may be interested in getting your music licensed in TV/Film send a demo to [email protected] or contact Scott directly at [email protected] with any questions you may have.