How do you know your music is ready for licensing?

You don’t!

BAM!! That’s it for today! Thank you very much…..  😛 

No, seriously, until you earn a music placement, there’s no hard and fast way to determine if a song is ready for licensing or not…

Why?

Because NOBODY has a clue!!!

JK Rowling received a LOT of rejection letters from publishers before Harry Potter could see the light of day.

Winona Ryder was told she was too ugly to become an actress.

Lady Gaga was unsuccessful with rock songs and singer-songwriter material before finding “her thing” and making it big.

WHATEVER you do…. Some people will say your music sucks.

Others will love it and want to use it for their projects.

You can’t control which way that goes…..

So what do you do??!!!

You put yourself OUT THERE!

You make sure people HEAR —- YOUR —- MUSIC!!!!

The ONLY way you’ll find out if your music is ready for licensing is to submit it to music licensing opportunities frequently.

Simply put, you’ll know your music is ready if:

  • selective stock music libraries accept your tracks (as opposed to stock music libraries who let you upload tracks without going through a review process); and
  • music licensing opportunity platforms like Songtradr shortlist your tunes once in a while.

If both these things happen and you STILL don’t make a dime from licensing, your problem is not the music….

Your problem is getting noticed and standing out in front of the right audience (more on that over here).

If your music is consistently being rejected by stock music libraries and never gets shortlisted on Songtradr, then yes, it might not be good enough. 

There’s no need to panic though…. you’ve got a couple of options to explore.

Scenario 1 – You Need to Work on the Music

If you write in a fairly mainstream genre like pop, heavy metal, hip hop, electronica, etc. and you can’t get into any selective stock music library…. I’m sorry to say, your music is not of the required standard…. yet.

All you need to do then is spend more time in the studio. Make sure you study the composition style of your favorite artists. Try to emulate the sound of your favorite songs.

Here are a few questions you can ask yourself:

  • is the arrangement of my track in line with that genre’s standard?
  • is the instrumentation of my track in line with that genre’s standard?
  • when I listen to my track right after listening to a “radio track” in that genre, does it seem out of place? (you’ll have to close your eyes and go with your gut for this one)

Pop/rock example:

Common arrangement: intro / verse / pre-chorus/ chorus / verse / pre-chorus / chorus / instrumental / chorus

Common instrumentation: drums / bass / rhythmic guitar / lead guitar / backing vocals / vocals

Note that there is no right or wrong way to write a song. If you want to write an epic instrumental section in the middle of a hip-hop track, feel free to do so!

I’m not telling you that you should follow a rigid arrangement or instrumentation plan here. 

All I’m saying is you should be aware of these things. There are certain codes that people expect the song to follow when they listen to a particular genre of music.  

Hybrids and fusion music can work of course but, if you’re going down that road, you need to spend more time finding tailored licensing opportunities for your songs.

If you want to stay on the mainstream road, best follow the well-trodden path of your chosen musical genre. At least until you master it and can play around with it without confusing people.



Scenario 2 – You Need to Find Another Way of Getting Music Licensing Jobs

Getting rejected by stock music libraries can happen, especially when you write obscure, experimental music.

It doesn’t mean you should abandon music licensing altogether.

It just means that production music libraries are not your best bet to find music licensing opportunities.

Sometimes, when your music is super niche, stock music libraries are just not the right way to go.

In that case, you’ll have to go direct to the customer and spend time researching music licensing jobs.

A good first step is to identify the genre of videos that would work really well with your music.

Once you have a clear idea of where your music fits, you can start reaching out to  potential customers instead of using intermediaries like music licensing platforms or music publishers.

***

Now I want to make one thing VERY clear….

Being rejected by a few stock music libraries does NOT mean your music is crap and not ready for licensing.

It COULD mean that but it could also mean that your music is not the right fit for those  music libraries specifically.

When I say the ONLY way you’ll find out if your music is ready for licensing is to submit your tracks to music licensing opportunities frequently, I mean FREQUENTLY!

You need to make sure your sample size is large enough to draw a conclusion from the feedback.

Here are my stats from my first 12 months trying to get my music licensed….

Be prepared, they’re not pretty  😉 

Submissions Accepted Rejected No answer
176 13 23 64

In hindsight, there are many things I could have done back then to get a better success rate. But that’s not the point….

The point is that if I hadn’t reached out to 176 companies interested in licensing music, I would have learned NOTHING!

I wouldn’t know….

  • how to identify music licensing opportunities that are worth the trouble;
  • how to suss out scams and “hopium” types;
  • how to price my music;
  • following up pays off 50% of the time; aaaand, most importantly….
  • if my music is good enough to get licensed!!

Now I do!!!

And all because I was brave enough to………. send emails.

OOOOOOOOOH!!! How courageous!!! I nearly risked my life there!! 

To be fair, sometimes my thumbs hurt from hitting the spacebar so many times in a day  😛 

I also learned a lot because I was persistent enough to do it over and over again!

That’s all it took: sending out music,

many many times.

***

Now when you do start sending out music, you will get rejected (if you’re not getting rejected, you’re not aiming high enough).

I don’t want you to feel too bad about yourself so…..

Let me show you the harshest feedback I ever received after submitting my music.

Unsurprisingly, it’s in French  😉 

Tough to take feedback

A rough translation goes a little something like this:

“We have taken good note of the musical content of your website, however your work does not correspond, from a qualitative point of view, to what we are looking for.

On the whole your tracks are too “rough”, the compositions are clumsy and the realization leaves something to be desired.”

OUCH!!!

In insight, they were probably right. But boy oh boy did it hurt! I almost cried when I got that email and can still vividly picture where I was sitting when I read it….

So yeah, you’ll get rejected. And it’s ok. It’s only one person’s opinion after all.

At least, they were kind enough to send constructive feedback. Most will just ignore you or grace you with a stock response along the lines of “It’s not you, it’s me. But I’d love to stay friends”, i.e. “It’s not your music, we’re just not looking for this particular genre at this time but good luck and please feel free to send new music my way in the future!”). 

And again, it’s only one person’s opinion…

I’ve licensed these tracks multiple times since then! Others didn’t think they were too rough, clumsy or badly produced.

So the moral of the story is: don’t feel too bad for too long when you do get rejected, you might just turn out to be the Meryl Streep of music  😉 

***

Back in 2014, I sent out 176 emails and got rejected or ignored 87 times.

Now, I have DOZENS of tracks placed with music libraries.

To this day, I get rejected. ALL —- THE —- TIME ….

It’s ok. Sometimes it’s hard not to care but I remind myself getting rejected means I’m trying. It means I’m aiming slightly too high.

That’s how I’ll improve and make better music.

Little by little, I’m stretching my comfort zone.

If you want to do the same and kickstart your music licensing career, check out this 7-day challenge!

It’s free and has a nice little checklist for you to print out and follow through studiously like the geeky indie musician I know you are!  😆 

No offense… this is a picture of me loving a spreadsheet!!!

Spreadsheet Lover
Just another Tuesday….


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