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I Want To Have My Music In A Movie (Do It Yourself vs a Publisher)

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I Want To Have My Music In A Movie (Do It Yourself vs a Publisher)

(Part Four of Four)

Submitted By Peter Åstedt

Another topic to discuss is that people think it’s hard to place songs. After hundreds of placements, I can tell you that it’s not. Still, there is some stuff you need to think of.

Yes, it’s hard to be friends with supervisors and ad-agencies. If you want to be close to them you don’t have the time to be an artist. You need to spend your time between NYC, Los Angeles, and London and make sure you invited to cool parties to meet all of them to find the latest leads. On top of that, you only have your songs. Okay that is maybe a 50 of them but supervisors need big catalogues of different music and they need it now, so you don’t have the time to write all the things they ask for even when you do get the leads.

Luckily, there are people doing this for a living. There are sites and companies and stuff you can contact that will pick up your music and work for you. Don’t think though that you are special, they just need a catalogue, but if your stuff works you have their attention. Especially if all the rights and other things are in line (see my earlier blogs around this). Also, supervisors tend to not like to fool around with artists who want to discuss the deeper meaning of a song. They want it done and just move forward.

I met an artist two years ago. She was very cocky that she had signed with a big publisher. The biggest one in my country she added. She was in full belief that this company would place her. I talked to her just a couple a weeks ago when she asked me to place her songs. I just added that what was wrong with the publisher she had? They hadn’t placed anything so now she thought I could do it. The problem here is that I can’t go out and place someone else properties. She was still with the publisher so it’s their job and rights to do it. In this case, my guess the songs are wrong, they are all about her not finding Mr. Right or about broken hearts. Another problem is they were co-written with six other people (look on my earlier blogs about that) so the song will not be that easy to clear. There are also already too many broken love songs so in my opinion it will be hard to place.

As well, I also know the publisher she is with, they are famous for not placing anything. Sure they promise all the artists they will work hard and they tell them that they do a lot of placements. And they don’t lie, they do but only with a handful of very famous hits that they have.

The case is with many of the bigger publishers they have huge catalogue and in there they have established household name songs. Let’s pretend I’m doing a full-length movie and I really think “Welcome to the Jungle” with Guns 'n' Roses would be perfect. The cost to get that song cleared is insane. If my movie is a blockbuster and I have the time and almost unlimited budget I have to go to the bigger publishers that own that song. But that is me seeking them out not the other way around. That is the problem with the bigger publishers, they mainly wait by the phone and get calls about famous songs they already have the rights to in their catalogue. Seldom do I see these people getting anything new out. Another problem also is that their catalogues contain hundreds of thousands of songs, most of the placement people don’t even know you are in there. And by the way license "Welcome to the Jungle" is almost impossible whatever budget you have.

Most of the time it’s much better to go to the sites where you can upload your songs or talk to people to work with your songs on commission. The publishers will always say that this can lead to fact that your song is pitched twice. Over my twenty-five year career with a lot of placement this has happened once, and that was not even an issue. What is more of an issue is that some of these sites are exclusive and take the rights of your songs. So what you need to be looking for people that work with your songs non-exclusive on commission. There are many of them and several good ones. To actually get something placed it’s better to have fifty people working for you than just the publishers who have one to three people sitting by the phone.

I meet a lot of artists that have uploaded on sites but never get placed. Another trick is also to tell what your song is good for. Is it good to drive the car to, is it about friendship, money, or other things they look for often. Tell them that information and suddenly they might take notice around your song and once it’s placed usually it’s placed more. I think though the biggest problem is that your song is not good enough to be placed. That is usually the biggest problem.

So why won’t I list all the sites where I have my music? Stop you have to do some work yourself! Your songs will not be placed by you sitting on your ass. I was kind enough to tell you about the pitfalls. Looking for the right companies is part of your job. My guess there are sites listing these as well, or I actually know one.

This part is a part that can be done by the artist themselves. Here people just think it’s easy to fool them that it is hard. The main problem is that people are lazy and want everything handed to them. The thing is to have a song that actually works for the pictures and be at the right place and the right time. 

If you missed “I Want to Have My Music in a Movie” Part 1-3 you can log on here to catch up!

Part One of Four: https://cashboxcanada.ca/index.php/features-music/i-want-have-my-music-movie-placement-went-wrong/4165

Part Two of Four: https://cashboxcanada.ca/index.php/features-music/i-want-have-my-music-movie-know-rights-part-two-four/4181

Part Three of Four: https://cashboxcanada.ca/features-music/i-want-have-my-music-movie-understanding-process-part-three-four/4192

Editor’s Note: Peter Åstedt has been working in the music industry for over 30 years. He has started record labels, distribution systems, and publishing companies. Peter also runs several major showcase festivals and is an advisor for INES and co-founder of MusicHelp/Discover Sensation. He has worked with the Top Ten most streamed songs and had music on both the Olympics and Super Bowl. Peter has currently taken up the seat of Station Manager of Cashbox Radio, working with MD, PD and station owner, Sandy Graham. His latest venture is a new Showcase Festival in Sweden, Future Echoes scheduled for February 18-20, 2021.