Unlisted Music

Mastering the Art of Licensing Music for TV and Film

Introduction to Licensing Music

Music is an art form that can be enjoyed by millions of people all over the world. However, making money from music can be a challenge.

One way to monetize music is through licensing. Licensing music refers to the permission given to use a song in a specific context, while the original artist retains the ownership rights.

In this article, we will explore the benefits of licensing music, ways to license music, and working with a music publisher to license music.

Benefits of Licensing Music

There are many benefits of licensing music. First and foremost, licensing music can help you earn money.

When your music is used in various forms of media, you can receive royalties from these placements. Additionally, licensing music can help with exposure.

By having your music featured in popular media, you increase your chances of reaching a broader audience. Lastly, licensing music gives you more control over how your music is used.

You can choose which songs are licensed, how they are used, and who uses them.

Ways to License Music

There are several ways to license music. One of the most common ways to license music is to work with a publisher.

Music publishers handle many of the administrative tasks involved in licensing music, such as registering songs with collection societies. Working with a publisher also provides access to an established network of contacts and connections.

Another way to license music is to use a music library. Music libraries are collections of pre-cleared songs that can easily be licensed by those who need them.

Music libraries provide a convenient way for those in need of music to find and use it in various projects. Creating connections is another way to license music.

Networking and building relationships with music supervisors, directors, and producers can give you more control over how your music is used. Musician conferences, showcases, and meet-and-greets provide an opportunity to meet industry professionals and create meaningful connections.

Working with a Publisher to License Music

Working with a publisher to license music has several advantages. A publisher handles many of the tasks required to register and track songs with collection societies, which can be time-consuming.

Working with a publisher also provides access to an established network of contacts and connections, making it easier to get your music placed.

Incentives for Publishers

Publishers have several incentives to license music. One of the main incentives for publishers is a share of the copyright.

This share of the copyright can provide a long-term revenue stream for publishers if a song or album becomes popular. Publishers can also benefit from radio airplay and advertisements that feature licensed music.

By placing music in these mediums, publishers can increase their revenue and have their clients’ music heard by a broader audience.

Publishers to Consider

There are many publishers to consider when looking to license music. Music X-Ray is a music licensing platform that’s aimed at independent musicians.

Music X-Ray provides opportunities for musicians to have their music placed in film, TV, and other media. Music Gateway is another publisher focused on connecting musicians with opportunities.

Music Gateway provides licensing opportunities, music sync, and other services that help musicians monetize their music. Sentric Music is an international music publisher that provides innovative licensing solutions for independent musicians and songwriters.

Sentric Music has offices in the UK, US, and other countries, making it an excellent choice for international musicians.


In conclusion, licensing music is an excellent way for musicians to monetize their creations, gain exposure, and have more control over how their music is used. There are several ways to license music, including working with a publisher, using a music library, and creating connections.

Music publishers have several incentives to license music, including a share of the copyright, radio airplay, and advertisement placements. Music X-Ray, Music Gateway, and Sentric Music are three publishers musicians can consider when looking to license their music.

3) Working with a Music Library to License Music

Music libraries are collections of pre-cleared music that are available for licensing by ad agencies, film directors, TV supervisors, game companies, and other media content creators. They often have a huge catalog of music spanning multiple genres, making them a popular choice for content creators to find suitable tracks for their projects.

How Music Libraries Work

Music libraries act as a broker between content creators and musicians. They offer a range of pre-cleared music that is ready for quick licensing, rather than having to go through the often lengthy process of acquiring rights for a specific track.

Content creators can use a music library to find tracks that suit their project’s tone, mood, or emotional feel. Once a content creator chooses a track, the music library will handle the licensing terms with the musician, streamlining the process of signing contracts and payments.

Music libraries also handle any necessary copyright and royalty registration.

Signing an Exclusive Deal

While some music libraries may offer exclusive deals, they can prove disadvantageous in the long term. Signing an exclusive deal means only that particular music library can represent you as an artist, restricting any options for potential deals or exposure.

However, short-term exclusive deals can provide beneficial exposure. Short-term exclusive deals allow exclusive use of the artist’s music for a specific period or project type.

In such instances, the artist still maintains access to the music for use in other situations or placements.

Uploading to Multiple Platforms

Musicians looking to license their music can increase their chances of success by uploading tracks to multiple platforms. As with any industry, a musician must recognize that licensing music is work that requires trial and error.

Quality and features vary across platforms. For instance, platforms with specialized music libraries, such as Artlist.io, may not generate as much income as broad libraries like Epidemic Sound but provide exceptional exposure and less competition.

4) Creating New Connections to License Music

Musicians seeking to explore licensing music and creating new connections have several advantages. One of the primary benefits of forging your connections is the control you have over your music.

You also keep all the money earned from the licensing agreements. This method of licensing music can be more gratifying, knowing that you built the connections on merit alone.

Researching the Market

Researching the market can help musicians understand exposure opportunities, music trends, and the types of media that require music licensing. Conducting research on the industry that suits your music genre provides focus and helps identify potential opportunities to license music.

For example, a jazz musician can focus on contacting TV shows, movies, or advertisements that use jazz music.

Starting Small and Building Portfolio

Starting small and building a portfolio is a step-by-step process that can provide valuable exposure and opportunities. Starting with YouTube can allow musicians to gauge the audience’s reception to their music, establish a following, and attract the attention of independent films and other forms of online media.

Offering free licensing agreements to small independent media projects can lead to paid opportunities in the future.

Being Trustworthy and Accountable

The music industry relies heavily on building connections and developing long-term relationships. Being trustworthy and accountable is essential to building and maintaining those connections.

Content creators and producers seek reliable and dependable musicians when searching for music to add to their projects. Trustworthy musicians may also receive large volumes of referrals, leading to increased opportunities and exposure.


Working with music libraries and creating new connections are great ways for musicians to monetize their music, gain exposure, and develop their careers. Music libraries manage the administrative tasks of licensing music and significantly reduce the time it takes to acquire the rights to a specific track, while creating unique connections builds relationships with industry professionals.

Musicians can upload their music to multiple platforms, trust the process, and focus on creating their music to achieve their goals.

5) Things to Avoid When Pitching Your Music

Pitching music to decision makers in the film and TV industry requires special attention to detail. Avoid some of the most common and costly mistakes by following these tips.

Attachments and Demos

There is nothing more frustrating than receiving an email with heavy attachments from an unknown sender. Instead of attaching tracks, provide links to the music and images.

Make sure that the music is of high quality and properly mastered. Demos must contain the artist’s best work and highlight their versatility while staying true to their unique style.

Generic Subject Lines and Spam

It’s essential to send polite and courteous emails to decision-makers in the film and TV industry. A specific subject line is a crucial detail that can make or break a pitch.

One should avoid using generic titles like “Music for TV Show.” Being transparent about the content of the email and the nature of the request may grant the recipient the confidence to open the message and engage with your music. It’s also essential to avoid spamming.

Sending multiple emails without any response can reflect a lack of professionalism or disregard for the recipient’s time. Instead, politely follow up and acknowledge any rejections received.

Forgetting Instrumental Versions

Music in films or TV shows is often layered, which means that the track’s instrumental version may need to be used instead of the original. It is crucial to include instrumental versions of tracks in the pitch, as it increases the chances of the music being used.


Conclusion: How to License Your Music for Film and TV

Licensing your music for film and TV requires focus, commitment, and hard work. It’s essential to keep these factors in mind and follow these simple tips to improve your chances of success.

Importance of Focus

One of the key elements to success in the music industry is focus. There are many channels and methods of promoting music, but without focus, one can miss out on significant opportunities.

Targeting the right decision-makers in film and TV shows and diligently cultivating relationships with them will improve the chances of success. By narrowing down your focus, it is easier to identify opportunities and capitalize on them.

Committing to the Work

Commitment to the work is a key part of the music licensing process. It takes time and effort to create the best music possible and improve it over time.

Submitting songs regularly to various licensing agencies and cultivating relationships with film and TV professionals requires consistent dedication. Building these relationships and securing opportunities requires trust and reliability, which takes time to establish.

Building Connections

Establishing a solid network of connections in the music industry is essential for success. Music supervisors, editors, producers, and other industry professionals all have an important role in bringing music to the screen.

Building relationships with these professionals takes time, effort, and commitment, but the end result is worth it. Trust and reliability are crucial to the formation of long-term relationships, which may lead to a steady stream of opportunities and exposure.


Licensing music for film and TV can be a challenging but rewarding process. Avoiding the common mistakes outlined above and focusing on honing one’s craft, targeting specific decision-makers in the industry, committing to the work, and building relationships can significantly improve the chances of success.

By following these tips, musicians can level up, improve their exposure, and ultimately succeed in the competitive world of film and TV. In summary, licensing music for TV and film is an excellent way to earn money and gain exposure.

Working with a publisher or a music library can help simplify the licensing process, but musicians should be cautious when submitting music and avoid spamming, generic subject lines, and failing to include instrumental versions. Musicians should research the market, focus on building their portfolio, and be trustworthy in developing long-term relationships with industry professionals.

By committing to their work and networking effectively, musicians can increase their chances of success. With the right approach, musicians can monetize their music, attract a broader audience, and level up their careers in the music industry.

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