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Ariel Hyatt: 7 Questions For A Real Live Music Supervisor Sarah Gavigan of Get Your Music Licensed

I’m kinda obsessed with how artists make money mostly because artists constantly ask me how they can make more of it.

Several weeks ago, we proudly blogged in support of The Future of Music’s incredible undertaking Artist Revenue Streams, which is a must read for any artist looking to monetize their music.

The FMC has begun to release the results of their in-depth study and they have identified 42 ways artists can earn money.

Numbers 5 & 6 on the list are:

5. Composing Original Works for Broadcast (an original jingle, soundtrack, score, or other musical work for a film, TV or cable show, or an ad agency…)

6. Synch Licenses (Typically involves licensing an existing work for use in a movie, documentary, TV, video game, internet, or a commercial).

Which leads me to start focusing in on: How I can help… which led me to Sarah Gavigan, founder of Get Your Music Licensed.

Sarah is an award-winning music supervisor/producer for advertising agencies, brand consultant on music licensing, and a writer. Like me, She has presented at conferences around the globe, including CMJ, SXSW, and Belfast Music Week.

I asked her 7 of the most important questions I could come up with about music licensing and placement and she graciously answered.

1. Ariel Hyatt: What makes music licensing so important for musicians today?

Sarah Gavigan: The first reason is distribution. In a sea of music, it’s hard to make a lot of noise. Radio is still seen as the most powerful way to get your music heard by the masses, and the only way to major rotation is to be signed with a major label who is willing to throw a lot of money into your record. Radio literally has the ability to broadcast your song to millions of people every time it’s played. So does synchronization music licensing! If your music is in a television commercial during primetime hours, your song is heard by millions of people every time that television show is broadcast. The second reason is that it is the fastest way to make real money. 

2. AH: Is it possible for an independent artist or band to get their music placed in a film, on a TV show, or an ad on their own?

SG: Absolutely, but you need to have 2 things in place:

1)  In order to appeal to music supervisors you have to know what they’re looking for, and you need to have your rights in order.  

2) You need to understand that presentation is everything. That’s not to say that you need a fancy website, you just need to understand what information a music supervisor is looking for.  

The 2nd most important thing to know about music licensing is that it’s a numbers game. The more music you have in your catalog, the more diverse that catalog is, and the more chances you have for getting your music licensed. 

3. AH: How do you know if your music is right for licensing?

SG: The best way to know if your music suits a certain type of placement is to watch TV. Watch TV shows, movie trailers, TV commercials, and webisodes on YouTube, and you will get a feeling for where your music will work best. (i.e. an action series, a drama etc.)

4. AH: Who should an artist contact to get his music placed?


SG: It’s important to know who you’re talking to, I never open e-mails if I can see that it is a mass newsletter or e-mail blast from someone I don’t know. You need to do some well thought out research. Find a show or brand that you like and work backwards. Look up the Music Supervisor online, and learn a little bit about them before reaching out. Are you thinking of a certain brand you think your music might be good for? With good research, you can find the name of the ad agency, and then the name of the music producer or creative director at that agency that works on that brand. For many people, this can be a daunting and time-consuming way to spend your time, which is why I recommend forming mastermind groups with other musicians to help divide and conquer, or to join music libraries that can help distribute your music to buyers in the licensing market.

5. AH: How will being on Facebook & Twitter help get music licensed?

SG: You need to create an audience and create buzz if you want major music supervisors to notice your music. You want to use Facebook and Twitter to help you to establish your brand.

6. AH: What are music supervisors looking for when they search for artists on social media?

SG: We usually head to social media channels once we know about an artist to see what the buzz factor is.  If I have heard a song of an artist and I want to know more I will Google their name and visit their Facebook & Twitter profiles to see how large their audience is. Many times as music supervisors, this helps us gauge where the music might fit best. It seems strange but many times our creative direction is to find a “buzz band.” (meaning one with an already established and growing audience).

7. AH: If you want to get your music placed, do you need to be signed to a label or a publishing deal first?

SG: You don’t need to be signed to get a music placement. I use unsigned artists all the time, which I find through reps, managers, and other types of music companies that handle musicians. But, having a prominent music placement can help your chances of getting signed to a label or publisher because you have acquired a larger audience by having your music heard by millions. 


Is Your Music Right For TV & Film? Seeing Your Music Through The Eyes of a Supervisor

March 28th, 2012 8:00 pm EST

Sign Up For The Teleseminar Here:

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About Sarah:

Sarah has created an online educational resource called Get Your Music Licensed. Which is an online community and platform where she shares her insight and expertise on the notoriously hard to access music licensing industry.

Reader Comments (4)

In the question "How do you know if your music is right for licensing?" Sarah recommends watching TV shows, movie trailers, etc., which is actually really good advice (I'm a Sarah fan and have taken her course on licensing music for commercials - lots of good stuff in there!) However, I have found that watching a lot of TV shows is very time consuming. I have found a much quicker way to do this. I even wrote about it. :)

Find Shows That Need Your Music Fast (Using One Website)

Also, building a following and creating a buzz on twitter and facebook before getting noticed by music supervisors is a little disheartening for most of us without large followings. One of the things Sarah talks about elsewhere is following those music supervisors you're interested in on twitter or facebook or their blogs (if they have them) and then start commenting/replying back to their tweets/posts with relevant and interesting things to say (not just promoting your own music) and retweet their stuff, etc. Over a period of time you may build a bit of a relationship with them, which will make them much more interested in listening to your stuff when you do find a good opportunity to send it to them.

Just found your website today...very informative, thanks!

March 29 | Unregistered CommenterJason Howe

Although this teleseminar is now over, you can still sign up via the form in the article above in order to receive the link to the recording and for the call-in information for tonight's Q&A call!

March 29 | Unregistered CommenterCyber PR

You say: "Several weeks ago, we proudly blogged in support of The Future of Music’s incredible undertaking Artist Revenue Streams, which is a must read for any artist looking to monetize their music."

Can you provide a link to this? That's the beauty of a blog....

April 10 | Unregistered CommenterNancy

Hi Sarah,

I wanted to say thank you for sharing your expertise. While watching your webinar, I came to realize that many of the no no techniques you shared are exactly what music business schools are teaching their students. Its a saturated market. That being said, relationships are key, good music, due diligence and timing is everything.

That's my caffeine induced rant for the morning.

Wondering if you have any more webinar's coming up?

Thanks again,

Sean Bryant |

July 6 | Unregistered CommenterSean Bryant

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