By Jamie Ledger
Many of the traditional income streams for Songwriters and Independent artists have changed along with an evolving New Music Industry landscape.
Today, one of the most substantial and DESIRED income streams is in the licensing and placement of an Artist/Songwriters music in Film, Television, Advertising, and Video Games.
These opportunities bring front-end licensing payouts, which can be LARGE, as well as any back-end royalties.
The other glaringly significant benefit is that of the relationship established with the receiving company or publisher, not to mention the credibility of building a reputation through placements and credits in the real world.
But how do you know if YOUR music, a sure-fire SMASH destined for radio play and blockbuster success, is appropriate for Film and TV Placement?
Well today we are going to delve into some songwriting tips and optimization concepts to help you take what you have, or, use what you ALREADY know-to write new songs or rewrite existing ones which give yourself a better chance at scoring a sweet placement and handsome paycheck for your hard work.
Today, we’ll cover 4 Key Writing Tips For SCORING Film and TV Placements:
1) Pay Attention To What’s Working
Wow. This one couldn’t be more obvious. But it’s worth stating over and over again. See one of the GREAT things about the Music Industry is that ALL the information is freely available to listen to and study.
It is a good idea for you to REALLY understand what is being used out there, and WHY. It won’t take long until you have an intuitive grasp for which stuff might work for which opportunity. Once you get to this level, you will be leaps and bounds ahead of those who haphazardly submit any-ol-song to any-ol-opportunity, just HOPING that maybe something will hit.
Choose one-to-three prime-time DRAMA Television shows to study for several episodes, or even for a whole season. Place a pillow case, or maybe a bed-sheet if you have a BIG-SCREEN over the TV so you cannot see, but still can hear. Watch, or LISTEN, with a notepad and pencil. Try to describe both the MUSIC, and the scene that the music is placed in.
Try to be AS descriptive as you can, using as much vivid imagery and emotional detail as possible.
2) Label and Tag Your Songs Well
Whether one of your songs is selected from a Music Production Library, a hand-selected by a referring 3rd party, or shopped through a song-plugger service or music publisher; Be SMART and label your songs with the person who’ll be “flipping through the pile” in mind.
As Robin Frederick says – by suggesting a character, situation, or action in your title you can make your song a natural for film and tv placement.
Obviously, “Track 3″ is a no-go, but for example, Hot Summer Night, is a title that would give a music supervisor or director a good frame of reference of what the theme of the song is about very easily.
While watching/listening to your selected TV shows try to sum up the action, characters involved, or the situation. Also, try to name the emotions felt during a scene, in descriptive words.
3) Write Songs With Universal Lyrics
Everyone always harps on universal lyrics and many think that universal means VAGUE or CLICHE. It does not.
Universal lyrics mean that MOST people can relate to it in some way. It’s about expressing and describing the EMOTION underneath a specific afternoon you and your girlfriend spent at the fair on madison avenue while eating cotton candy and talking about your favorite books…
Universal lyrics = Explaining the feelings of a fantastic day and using non-specific imagery and emotion. Which everyone can relate to.
It’s simply a matter of getting to the heart of a specific experience or story that you are trying to tell, and telling it so that others can receive the emotional message you are trying to express.
Take a song that you’ve written that was both personal and overly specific. Identify the underlying “theme,” and drill down into the emotional message. Rewrite that song with more universal lyrics so that you are focused on translating a feeling or common experience by communicating the “universal aspects” which underlie the specific elements used in the song.
4) Express One Clear Emotion
Your music should convey an emotional statement or deliver a vibe that translates to a feeling, atmosphere, or mood.
Using major and minor chords can directly impact the mood of the song. Use this to support and enhance the message and emotion you are delivering so that it is cohesive.
If you are purposefully trying to “break the rules” i.e create an defiant contrast to cheerful lyrics by creating a dark or sullen musical atmosphere, or vice versa, then only do that once you know enough to consciously do it. Until then, try to make everything work together using all the elements of your craft to express ONE cohesive emotional message or communication.
For the next song you write, whether you create the chord progression OR the lyric first…
Consciously be aware of, and describe IN WORDS, how the music supports the emotional message of the song.
Remember, it’s ALL about communication.
Now go and try these out for yourself, and be sure to tell me what you found, didn’t find… Worked, didn’t work. Let me know if this was helpful or not!
Is there any other tips and ideas you’d like to add or expand on?
Jamie Ledger, a expert on Indie Artist Development, Songwriting, and Music Production. He can be reached at: http://www.jamieleger.com/
For more information on USA Songwriting Competition, go to: http://www.songwriting.net