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Getting Your Foot in the Licensing Door: Building Relationships With Music Supervisors

When it comes to getting your music heard and earning income from your work, one avenue that can be incredibly rewarding is music licensing. Music supervisors play a crucial role in this process, and building relationships with them can open up numerous opportunities for your career. In this article, we will delve into the world of music supervision and explore how you can become a music supervisor yourself. 

For composers looking to license their music, establishing connections with music supervisors is the most direct path to placements. Music supervisors are responsible for selecting songs and instrumental tracks to complement scenes in films, TV shows, commercials, video games and other media projects. Getting your music included in their playlists opens up major earning potential.

However, connecting with busy supervisors and convincing them to browse your catalog is easier said than done. Building relationships takes time, care and persistence. Follow these strategies to organically foster invaluable contacts within the music licensing community:

Understanding the Music Supervisor’s Role

Before reaching out to supervisors, it’s important to understand their unique role and needs:

Sourcing Music

Supervisors are constantly sourcing new music to consider for their upcoming projects. They juggle submissions from composers, publishers, and libraries while also conducting their own searches.

Scene Analysis

They pay close attention to the emotional needs of each scene in order to select music that will complement and enhance the visuals. Mood, pacing, character arcs and story arcs all influence their choices.

Licensing Knowledge

Supervisors are well-versed in negotiation, licensing terminology, and clearance issues. They secure permissions and oversee licensing contracts between productions and rights holders.

Sticking to Budgets

Productions provide music budgets that supervisors must creatively work within. Affordability along with fit are top priorities. Supervisors are master budget stretchers.


Supervisors simultaneously work across multiple projects in various stages of production. Their time is limited. Many juggle both licensing and hands-on composing.

Industry Connections

They maintain close professional networks with composers, publishers, studio executives, editors, directors and other industry collaborators. Relationships drive opportunities.

Making Your Initial Introduction

When reaching out to connect with a supervisor for the first time, follow these etiquette tips:

Be Personal

Personalized emails have much higher open rates. Use their first name. Reference details that show you took time to research them specifically.

Provide Value

Offer sample tracks they can preview rather than asking for their time right away. Share useful industry insights or news relevant to their work.

Keep it Concise

Respect their busy schedule with short emails. Embed tracks so they can listen without opening attachments from strangers.

List Specific Credits

Mention titles of shows/games/films you love that they have worked on. Applaud their great music selections for those projects.

Be Relatable

Politely explain you’re a fellow composer also working in licensing. Emphasize you understand and appreciate their role.

Suggest a Meeting

Propose meeting for coffee or a brief call to further discuss potential licensing opportunities. Provide multiple scheduling options.

Follow Up

If they don’t respond right away, follow up once after a week or two. Then move on. Never harass or spam.

Pitching Your Music Successfully

When given the opportunity to pitch your music catalog, put your best foot forward:

Learn Their Needs

Ask questions to understand what genres, styles and licensing terms they need more of for upcoming projects. Listen closely.

Present Consistent Options

Don’t overwhelm them with 100 loosely related songs. Stick to your strongest 5-10 closely aligned with their needs.

Highlight Past Placements

If you have any previous film/TV sync placements, briefly mention them to establish legitimacy, but don’t brag.

Provide Stems/Scores

Supply multi-track stems and scores for pitching instrumental cues. This allows for editing flexibility.

Discuss Rates

Be prepared to provide license rate quotes upfront if requested. Consider offering discounted rates to incentivize new placements.

Follow Up Politely

Don’t badger constantly asking if they have selected your music yet. Check in occasionally if they expressed initial interest.

Accept Rejections Gracefully

If your music doesn’t fit the project, politely thank them for their consideration and reaffirm interest collaborating in the future.

Networking Opportunities to Meet Supervisors

Look for chances to meet supervisors face-to-face at industry networking events:

Music Festivals

Whether film/TV focused or multi-genre, festivals attract a high density of industry pros. Introduce yourself. Exchange cards. Offer music samples. Follow up.

Conference Panels

Panel discussions at industry conferences often feature well-connected supervisors. Attend their presentations. Approach them afterward.

Clearinghouse Events

Organizations like Film Music Connection host “speed dating” nights between rights holders and supervisors.


Music seminars and workshops geared toward licensing frequently book supervisor speakers and panelists. Get VIP access if possible.

Industry Parties

Expensive but worth it. Big awards show afterparties like ASCAP and Guild of Music Supervisors annually gather many prominent supervisors.

Local Networking Meetups

Join informal networking groups of industry creatives in your nearest media hub city. Connect over common ground.

Making Connections Online

You can also forge digital connections without meeting in-person:

Social Media Outreach

Politely introduce yourself and provide music samples via Twitter or Instagram DMs after organically engaging with their posts. Avoid spamming.

Professional Groups

Join reputable licensing groups on Facebook to connect with supervisors active in the discussions. Again, add value before pitching.

Licensing Blogs

Comment thoughtful insights on supervisor blogs. Reply conversations when possible. Eventually they may click your website link.

Professional Platforms

Supervisors list their contact info on sites like IMDb Pro. Reach out through the preferred method noted.

Cold Pitches

Find contact forms or email addresses for supervisors at studios/production companies. Send brief personalized cold pitch emails.

Mutual Contacts

Ask colleagues for supervisor introductions from their own networks. Warm referrals go much further than cold outreach.

Sending Production Music Briefs

If added to a supervisor’s submitter roster, respond promptly to relevant music briefs:

Read Carefully

Follow submission instructions closely. Adhere to exact requested genres, lengths, instrumentations, licensing terms.

A/B Alternate Options

Provide 2-3 options per requested cue to offer flexibility. Slightly differentiate instrumentation/vocals.

Match References Precisely

If reference tracks are provided, match the general tone, tempo, vocals, era and style as closely as possible.

Compose Original Works

Even when emulating a reference, create original compositions from scratch instead of just submitting premade catalog songs.

Meet Deadlines

Submit by or before the requested deadline. They are on tight schedules to make temp music edits.

Follow Up

Check in if you haven’t received feedback after the indicated decision date. But avoid pestering unnecessarily.

Ask For Feedback

If not selected, politely request constructive critiques to refine your brief writing skills. Implement the advice.

Providing Ongoing Value

Successful long-term supervisor relationships are mutually beneficial partnerships that require ongoing nurturing:

Share Intel

Occasionally forward interesting industry articles, licensing success stories, and music data supervisors might find useful.

Check In

About once a quarter, check in to ask how current projects are progressing. Avoid over-contacting.

Expand Your Range

Compose additional genres/styles they are needing more options in. Expand your musical scope.

License Non-Exclusively

Allow supervisors to license your tracks non-exclusively for greater flexibility across projects. Offer multi-use discounts.


When trust is established, propose collaborating directly on scores for their productions. Co-write songs with vocalists they recommend.

Thank Them

Show appreciation when they license your music. Send a gift if budgets allow after a high-paying sync.

Credit Them

If you receive a prestigious award for a scoring project, thank the supervisor for the opportunity during your acceptance speech.

Follow Their Lead

Support their personal projects and activities on social media. Help promote their work.

Don’t Take Offense

If you don’t hear back right away or a deal falls through, don’t react emotionally. Stay friendly.

Avoiding Frustrations and Pitfalls

Steer clear of these common composer/supervisor relationship pitfalls:

Skipping Research

Failing to learn a supervisor’s musical tastes, specialties and past projects wastes their time.

Acting Desperate

Hard sells and sob stories don’t entice. Exude eager professionalism instead.

Conveying Inflexibility

Refusing to customize music to fit scenes or to negotiate rates closes doors.

Lacking Publishing Rights

Having split rights or no rights to license your co-written or commissioned works severely limits opportunities.

Rejecting Criticism

Arguing with their feedback rather than implementing their production music suggestions hurts your chances.

Pressuring For Approval

Pushing supervisors to finalize selections before they are ready raises red flags. Exercise patience.

Seeming Unprepared

Fumbling over licensing terms, rates and availability details undermines perceived competence. Know your business.

Disregarding Budgets

Pushing astronomically high sync fees and inflexible terms makes you difficult to work with.

Skipping Contract Details

Not reviewing licensing contracts closely or understanding key clauses leaves you legally and financially vulnerable.

What is a music supervisor and how can you become one?

What does a music supervisor do?

A music supervisor is responsible for choosing and placing music in various media projects, such as films, TV shows, commercials, and video games. They bridge the gap between the creative side of the project and the legal aspects of music licensing. In addition to selecting the right songs or compositions, music supervisors also negotiate and secure the necessary licenses to use the music.

Steps to becoming a music supervisor

If you have a passion for music and a keen interest in the business side of the industry, becoming a music supervisor might be the right career path for you. While there is no set educational requirement for this role, having a solid understanding of the music industry and its various facets is crucial. You can start by gaining hands-on experience in the field by working as an intern or assistant to a music supervisor, or by volunteering at local community events where music is involved.

Networking is key in this industry, so attending industry events, conferences, and showcases can provide valuable opportunities to meet the right people and learn more about the music supervision field. Building relationships with individuals already working in the industry can open doors and increase your chances of securing a position as a music supervisor.

How to find music for sync licensing?

One of the primary responsibilities of a music supervisor is to find the right music for sync licensing. Sync licensing refers to the process of pairing music with visual media. To find music for sync licenses, music supervisors search through various sources such as music libraries, record labels, music publishers, and independent artists. By developing relationships with these entities, you can increase your chances of getting your music placed in commercials, TV shows, and other media projects.

Understanding music licensing and sync placements

What is music licensing?

Music licensing is the process of granting permission to use copyrighted music for specific purposes. This includes sync licensing, which involves pairing music with visual media, as well as other types of licensing such as public performance rights. When your music is licensed for sync placements, it can be used in commercials, TV shows, films, and more, providing exposure and potential income.

How to license your music for sync placements?

If you want to get your music placed in commercials and TV shows, you need to understand the process of licensing your music for sync placements. One way to accomplish this is by working with a music publisher who specializes in sync licensing. They can help you navigate the complex world of music licensing, negotiate deals on your behalf, and increase your chances of securing sync placement opportunities.

How to get your music placed in commercials and TV shows?

Getting your music placed in commercials and TV shows requires a targeted approach. One effective way to get your foot in the door is to research and reach out to music supervisors who are actively looking for music. Many music supervisors work closely with sync agents, so building relationships with these individuals can greatly increase your chances of getting your music heard. Additionally, creating and maintaining a strong online presence through platforms like SoundCloud and Spotify can help music supervisors discover your work.

Building relationships in the music industry

Why is building relationships important for music licensing?

In the music industry, building relationships is vital for success in many areas, including music licensing. Developing connections with music supervisors, publishers, and other industry professionals can lead to collaboration opportunities and exposure for your work. Building relationships also allows you to gain valuable insights into project needs and music preferences, improving your chances of finding the right opportunities for placement.

Networking and showcasing your work to music supervisors

Networking plays a significant role in the music industry, and it is no different when it comes to music licensing. Attending industry events, conferences, and music showcases provides opportunities to meet music supervisors and showcase your work. Be prepared with a professional demo or portfolio that demonstrates your talent and style, and approach music supervisors with a friendly and genuine attitude.

Understanding project needs and music preferences

To increase your chances of getting your music placed, it is essential to understand project needs and music preferences. Every project has different requirements, so taking the time to research and familiarize yourself with the specific needs of a music supervisor can greatly enhance your pitch. By tailoring your music to suit their projects, you become a valuable asset and improve your chances of getting noticed.

Pitching your music and getting noticed

How to pitch your music to music supervisors?

Pitching your music to music supervisors requires strategy and preparation. Start by researching the projects that a music supervisor has worked on in the past and identify if your music aligns with their style. Personalize your pitch by mentioning specific projects they have worked on and explain why your music would be a good fit. Remember to always follow up after pitching to show your interest and commitment.

The adaptability factor: Being a valuable asset for sync placements

Being adaptable and flexible as a musician is crucial for securing sync placements. Music supervisors often look for songs or compositions that can easily be tailored to fit specific scenes or moods. Demonstrating your ability to provide alternative versions of your music, such as instrumental or acapella versions, can make you more appealing to music supervisors and increase your chances of getting your music placed.

Everything you need to know about performing rights organizations (PROs) like ASCAP

Performing rights organizations (PROs) like ASCAP play an essential role in managing the licensing and distribution of royalties for music creators. Registering your music with a PRO ensures that you receive proper compensation when your music is used in various media projects. Understanding how PROs work and the benefits they provide can help you navigate the world of music licensing more effectively.


Securing fruitful relationships and direct placements with music supervisors requires putting in dedicated time and care. Make genuine connections in the industry through smart networking. Put your best work forward when opportunities arise. Provide ongoing mutual value to become a trusted go-to source for music.

With polished production skills, ample professionalism, constructive relationship building, and songs/cues tailored to scene needs, you can get your foot in the door with gatekeeper supervisors. Patience and persistence will pay off.



By Dani Davis

Dani Davis is the pen name of the writer of this blog with more 15 years of constant experience in Content marketing and informatics product, e-commerce niche.

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