Are You Ready to License Your Music? 10 Steps to Help You Get Closer to Sync Success

Guest post by Michelle Lockey

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Hi everyone! I’m award winning songwriter, Michelle Lockey. I started writing songs geared toward Film & TV in 2012 and now I have close to 300 songs in my catalog, my royalties per year have gone up about 170x since my first royalty check and I have songs in over 45 shows, on over 20 different networks. In 2015 and 2016 I have made 5 figures from music licensing. YOU CAN TOO! I never thought that I would be able to do this because I didn’t know much about writing, production, or what was involved on the business side. It seemed like such a mountain to climb.

Like any business, a music licensing business will take time to build. I didn’t start writing for Film & TV until 2012. I didn’t really understand what writing for Film & TV entailed. I learned about it after attending the TAXI Music A&R Road Rally. They had a panel of successful members that employed, what they called the 5 year plan. Basically it means that it takes five years of dedicated hard work to see see consistent results. Sometimes it happens quicker, sometimes not.
I am now technically in my 4th year of the “5 year plan” and I am seeing results. I am here to tell you that if I can do this, so can you. You can either go for a few placements just to say you did it, or go for it and make it part of your income stream. So what does it take? It takes dedicated consistent work, building your catalog of songs, networking, pitching and, of course, perseverance.

Before we get to the list, let’s understand the basic process of music licensing. The short version is, write a song, pitch it, get it signed to a music library or publisher, music library/pub pitches song, hopefully gets you a placement, you get paid via royalties or sync fees or both, REPEAT! The idea is to get as many songs/instrumentals into as many libraries or to as many publishers as possible to maximize your ROI.

There is a lag time of royalty payment through your PRO (performance royalty organization), which is about six months. So you have to keep getting songs signed and placed so that the cycle can continue uninterrupted.

I got my first placement after about a year of writing & pitching. This does not mean you won’t start to see placements within the first year. I had a HUGE learning curve and luckily started working with people that could produce and knew the business more than me. I learned a ton by doing that, going to conferences, taking courses on recording & production & networking. Now I can produce some of my own music, in addition to working with others. So, let’s get on with it! How do you go about getting consistent results? Here are some tips.

  1. Craft your music properly. Shows need music to enhance the emotion of the scene. The show is telling the story, you are evoking the emotion of the scene.
  2. Research the types of music used in Film & TV. Listen to shows and pay attention to the music being used and how it is being used.
  3. Write your songs to Themes. Start creating a list of Themes and the emotions that each them could evoke. For example: Theme-Relationships, Lost Love Emotion: Despair
  4. Create 80 songs/120 instrumentals/cues per year. It may seem like a lot, but this can be done. This is the level to aim for to achieve a consistent income
  5. Create Broadcast Quality Music. Music production does not have to be top notch, but it has to be good. Home recordings are fine if you can home produce. You don’t have to spend a ton of money on production.
  6. Co-Write with people who can produce, or will split production costs. It will help you save on money
  7. Schedule Time: A lot a time each day or at the very least each week to write. Balancing everything you do is key. Even if you can only schedule in 30 minutes to write. Do it!
  8. Understand the business side. There are many types of deals you can sign, and also different ways the money is split. Exclusive, Non-Exclusive, Semi-Exclusive, Co-Publishing Deals etc. Knowing what you are signing is key.
  9. Pitch your music appropriately. This is an entire animal unto itself. is a good resource to search libraries & publishers & their submission process. There are also pay to pitch sites, some are good, some are not. Research a show’s music supervisor and see what type of music they are using on their shows. Make sure the music is ready and don’t pitch willy nilly. Be professional and targeted in your pitches.
  10. Network. Go to conferences, meet people, create teams of co-writers, talk to industry professionals. Have your best music ready. This is essential to your music business. Some conferences to try: Durango Songwriter’s, TAXI Music Rally, Sync Summit

These tips are just a brief overview of what I share on my FREE checklist: 10 Steps to Sync Success. This is absolutely something that you can do. Getting started is sometimes the hardest part. Because it is a big learning curve, I created courses to help other shorten their learning curve. My courses are getting rave reviews and I have a new launch on January 19. If you are interested, go to my website, opt in for a copy of the more comprehensive checklist & I will send info about a FREE webinar I am having and the upcoming launch.

Written by is the oldest and largest online community of indie women musicians. Our mission is to promote, support and empower indie women in music.

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