Four Reasons Your Music Might Not Work for Film/TV

By: Travis Terrell

It is no mystery that the record business is in somewhat of a free fall.  Fans aren’t paying for music as much and some touring markets are drying up.  Bands are flocking to new markets, one of the biggest being Sync Licensing.  While, some musicians have been very successful with this category, some have yet to break into the wild waters of TV/Film/Advertising.  Here are 4 reasons that your music might not be getting placed.  

1.  Your lyrics are too specific.

Long-story-type songs almost never get placed.  Songs about a specific time in your life aren’t lyrics that will help sell cars.  “It’s a beautiful day,” however, will.  “What a Wonderful World,” “Let’s get this Party Started,” “Pumped up Kicks” all have very common lyric themes that will help drive a story and will work beautifully in your favorite toothpaste ad.  Try writing about common feelings and moods and make sure the hook of the song (ie; “It’s a Beautiful Day”) is very evident.  The filmmakers will most-likely use only that line and have the rest as instrumental.  

2.  Your song is one mood.

It is much easier for the film editor if the song has evident section changes so they can cut cleanly (a warm earthy pad section, an explosive chorus section, a softer break down, etc.).  If your song has at least a couple different sections, it will look very appetizing to a company making an ad.        

3.  You don’t have an instrumental version.

This is absolutely essential.  In most cases, the instrumental version of the song will be used instead of the vocal version.  If the vocal is used, it will only be for the hook of the song.  Your chances of getting a song placed with an instrumental version are increased 10 fold.

4.  Your recordings sound bad.


This is one of the main reasons songs don’t get placed.  Quality matters.  If your songs are not properly mixed and mastered, it sadly gets passed over rather quickly.  Composers tend to skip over this step when they are doing it all themselves.  Pay attention to details like the mix and master.  It could be the one thing that separates you from the others.