Producing Original Music That Grabs Attention: Composition Tips for LicensingProducing Original Music That Grabs Attention: Composition Tips for Licensing
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Producing Original Music That Grabs Attention: Composition Tips for Licensing

Music licensing is a crucial part of the music industry that offers various opportunities for artists to monetize their talent and reach a wider audience. Understanding the process of licensing and knowing the steps to take can help you navigate this landscape successfully. Moreover, licensing your music brings several benefits, including increased exposure, revenue streams, and opportunities to collaborate with industry professionals. 

Creating quality compositions and productions that sync licensing clients want takes musical skill and commercial sensibilities. The right production choices make your tracks stand out from the crowded marketplace. Here are tips to compose compelling songs, instrumentals, and sound design.

How to Get Your Music Licensed

Understanding the process of licensing

In the music industry, licensing refers to obtaining legal permission to use a piece of music for a specific purpose. This can include using music in films, TV shows, advertisements, video games, and other multimedia projects. Music licensing typically involves entering into a contractual agreement, which specifies the terms and conditions of how the music will be used and the royalties or fees involved.

Steps to take to license your music

To license your music, you can follow these essential steps:

  1. Register your music with a performance rights organization (PRO) like BMI or ASCAP. These organizations ensure that you receive the royalty payments you are entitled to when your music is used.
  2. Promote your music and build a presence in the music industry. This can involve networking with music supervisors, producers, and other industry professionals who have the power to license your music.
  3. Research and target specific projects or opportunities that align with your music style and genre. Pitch your music to the relevant decision-makers and provide them with professional-quality demos or recordings.
  4. Negotiate the terms of the license agreement, including the usage rights, duration, and compensation. It’s important to understand the legal implications and consult with a lawyer if needed.
  5. Sign the license agreement and ensure that you receive a copy of the contract for your records.

Benefits of licensing your music

Licensing your music opens up a range of benefits:

  • Increased exposure: Having your music featured in popular media can expose your work to a larger audience, leading to more fans and potential opportunities.
  • Financial revenue: Music licensing allows you to earn performance royalties and sync fees, which can contribute to your income as an artist.
  • Collaboration opportunities: Working with music supervisors and licensing professionals can offer potential collaborations with other artists and industry connections.
  • Creative fulfillment: Seeing your music being used in a visual or commercial context can be a rewarding experience and validate your artistic vision.

What is a Sync License and How Does it Work?

Explaining the concept of sync licensing

A sync license grants the right to synchronize your music with visual media, such as a film, TV show, or advertisement. This means that your music will be used alongside the images and sounds of the visual content, enhancing the overall impact and emotional connection for the audience.

How to obtain a sync license for your music

To obtain a sync license for your music:

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    1. Identify potential opportunities for your music by researching production companies, advertising agencies, and music supervisors who work on projects that suit your style.
    2. Contact the relevant parties and provide them with a pitch that showcases your music and explains why it would be a perfect fit for their project.
    3. If they express interest, negotiate the terms of the sync license, including the usage, duration, and compensation.
    4. Once an agreement is reached, ensure that you have all the necessary legal documentation in place, including contracts and cue sheets.
    5. Deliver the required files, such as high-quality recordings and stems, to the production team according to their specifications.
    • Performance royalties: When your music is used in a visual production like a TV show or film, you are entitled to receive performance royalties. These royalties are collected and distributed by PROs like BMI and ASCAP.
    • Sync fees: Sync fees are one-time payments negotiated and paid directly for the use of your music in a specific project. The amount of the sync fee varies depending on factors such as the project’s budget, the length of use, and the prominence of the placement.
    • Know your audience: Understand the demographics, preferences, and tastes of the audience you want to target. This will allow you to create music that appeals to them specifically.
    • Stay true to your style: Develop a unique musical style that sets you apart from other artists. This can be achieved through experimentation, blending different genres, or incorporating unconventional elements into your music.
    • Inject emotion into your compositions: Emotive melodies and harmonies can create a deep emotional connection with listeners, increasing the likelihood of your music being licensed

Researching Music Licensing Opportunities

Before composing, research the types of music and sound design most in-demand for paid sync licensing across various media projects.

High-Demand Genres

  • Cinematic trailer music for ads and video
  • Upbeat corporate tracks for explainer videos
  • Short rock/pop songs for backgrounds
  • Emotive piano and orchestra for stories
  • Energetic electronic dance for youth brands
  • Fun kids songs and lullabies
  • Rhythmic beats for urban lifestyle brands
  • Feel-good acoustic pop/folk
  • Dramatic orchestral themes

Places Music is Needed

  • Video advertisements
  • Corporate explainer videos
  • Movie and show trailers
  • Backgrounds in YouTube videos
  • Video game soundtracks
  • On-hold phone music
  • Podcast intro/outros
  • Sports arena soundtracks

Composition Length Needs

  • 15-30 second loops
  • 30-60 second spots
  • 1-2 minute cinematic themes
  • Full 2-4 minute songs
  • 5-10 minute ambient background

Researching the most in-demand styles, uses, and lengths ensures you spend time producing compositions sync clients actually want.

Planning Compositions Around Usage

Create tracks tailored for practical use cases, not just your artistic vision. Support the visuals your music gets paired with.

Tips for Functional Compositions

  • Leave space in arrangements for voiceovers
  • Craft tunes evoking desired emotions and energy
  • Build fully around central melodic hooks
  • Utilize structure allowing looping small sections
  • Time hits, swells, and effects to align with video
  • Leave room to extend or shorten runtime if needed
  • Enable fades and edits between sections
  • Consider pacing and arcs that evolve over time

Rather than just making songs you personally enjoy, craft music deliberately engineered to be used, edited, and adapted. Fulfill creative needs.

Composing For Commercial Appeal

While artistic merit matters, commercial potential is key for paid licensing. Craft broadly accessible music.

Tactics for Mainstream Compositions

  • Use common time signatures like 4/4 instead of odd meters
  • Focus on one core memorable melodic theme or riff
  • Stick to common major/minor keys over unusual scales
  • Feature conventional song structures and familiar chord progressions
  • Consider trends popular on radio and streaming playlists
  • Use instrument combinations average listeners easily latch onto
  • Convey universally relatable moods and vibes
  • Enable various edits and arrangements
  • Produce tracks cleanly in line with genre conventions

Mainstream sensibilities make your music resonate across larger projects. But sprinkling some uniqueness in keeps compositions interesting.

Arranging Instrumentation Strategically

Carefully consider instrumentation choices to uniquely brand your music and fill needs.

Orchestration Considerations

  • Determine which instruments/sounds define your distinctive style
  • Layer synthesizers and sound design elements to color compositions
  • Double melodies across registers and octaves for richness
  • Use rhythm section to propel groove and energy
  • Add ambient pads/textures to fill space and set mood
  • Feature solo instruments taking memorable melodic lines
  • Build dynamic arcs with swells, hits, and thickening textures
  • Leave room in arrangements for commercial edits
  • Pan layers strategically across left/right stereo field

Treat each instrument and texture as serving a purpose. Let arrangements enhance the core ideas.

Mixing for Commercial Clarity

Strive for polished, clean mixes suiting commercial licensing uses.

Mixing Tips

  • Make the main melodic element clear and upfront
  • Set consistent volume levels across sections
  • EQ elements so each has space in the frequency spectrum
  • Use compression to control dynamics without pumping or breathing
  • Add subtle panning, widening, and depth effects
  • Include fade ins/outs allowing seamless layering
  • Don’t overcompress or limit to avoid crushing transients
  • Check mixes on a variety of systems to confirm clarity
  • Reference comparable commercially released songs

Well-balanced, even mixes enable music supervisors to seamlessly edit and layer your tracks.

Composing Emotive Cinematic Pieces

Cinematic instrumentals conveying stories and emotions are sought after for dramatic ads, movie trailers, video games, and backing visuals.

Tips for Impactful Cinematic Compositions

  • Establish desired mood from the very start
  • Build tension and emotion gradually through arcs
  • Use chord progressions evoking the emotion intended
  • Feature solo melodic instruments like piano and violin
  • Add swells and slow risers to heighten anticipation
  • Use sound design whooshes to accentuate hits
  • Switch between sparse and full sections
  • Time orchestral hits to support action
  • Change keys, tempos, and modes for interest
  • Leave space for voiceover while retaining intensity

Keep listeners engaged as moods shift throughout the cinematic journey.

Producing Corporate Background Music

Upbeat corporate tracks are commonly licensed by brands for promotional videos, explainer content, conferences, and more.

Composition Tips for Corporate Videos

  • Maintain consistent energy and tempo throughout
  • Use driving rhythmic groove to push momentum
  • Feature layers that can drop in/out for edits
  • Include motivational melodic riffs or motifs
  • Use major keys and uplifting melodies
  • Add stylized production effects subtly
  • Leave space for voiceovers
  • Accentuate transitions with sweeps
  • Use percussive sounds from drums, synths, guitars

Energize audiences without overpowering the message. Balance professional polish with accessibility.

Composing Stock Songs for Varied Uses

Short songs providing flexible value for backgrounds, parodies, vlogs, and more.

Tactics for Cross-Purpose Songs

  • Stick to common verse-chorus pop song structure
  • Feature hooks tailored for viral singing/parodies
  • Use radio-friendly major keys and melodies
  • Produce a few mixes and arrangements
  • Make lyric themes broad enough for reuse
  • Arrange layers that clients can mute individually
  • Deliver clean vocal tracks sans backing mix
  • Time hits and effects for easy alignment to edits
  • Bake in space for voiceovers if desired

Build adaptable structure enabling clients to repurpose verses, choruses, and instrumentals.

Producing Custom Sonic Branding

Create branded music and sound design aligning to a company’s image.

Steps to Compose Branding

  • Study the brand’s visual identity and logo
  • Identify target demographics and what resonates
  • Research competitors and what sets brand apart
  • Map out the emotions and traits to convey
  • Propose ideas for branded musical mnemonics and sound kits
  • Present composition options reflecting brand values
  • Provide mix stems for adaptation
  • Deliver multiple lengths and arrangements

With custom compositions, audio becomes an recognizable extension of the brand.

Composing Music for Video Games

Craft game soundtracks heightening immersion across changing scenarios.

Video Game Composition Tips

  • Create unique themes for key characters, levels, and menus
  • Produce tracks in layers adaptable by gameplay
  • Time musical hits to align with player actions
  • Build tracks cycling seamlessly for extended play
  • Provide mix stems enabling muting/isolating parts
  • Include assorted musical stingers for key in-game events
  • Produce ambient environmental mood music
  • Design sounds eliciting emotional responses
  • Deliver a range of intensities and densities

Match the dynamism of the gaming experience. Support changing emotions and narratives.

Optimizing Music Publishing and Packaging

Deliver compositions ready for client use and prompt licensing.

Publishing Checklist

  • Gain all proper rights to sample and remix source material
  • Render mixed stereo WAV files formatted for publishing
  • Master recordings to commercial loudness levels
  • Trim starts/ends allowing onset space
  • Provide loopable sections for continuous playback
  • Include 30 second, 60 second, and full-length edits
  • Render each instrumental part and vocals as isolated stems
  • Bundle files organized clearly for delivery
  • Add proper metadata like titles, ISRC codes, etc
  • Register songs to performance rights organizations (PROs)

Save clients time by delivering production-ready compositions optimized for use.

Conclusion

Composing music that garners lucrative sync licensing deals requires both musical chops and commercial sensibilities. Research current needs. Craft tracks tailored for practical editorial use. Focus arrangements on memorable hooks. Mix and master for clarity. Provide quality deliverables production-ready. While unleashing your creativity, keep end uses in mind. With compositions made for adaptable usage across media projects, you position your music to be purchased again and again.

FAQ for Producing Original Music That Grabs Attention: Composition Tips for Licensing

What is music licensing?

Music licensing is obtaining legal permission to use a piece of music for specific purposes, such as films, TV shows, advertisements, video games, and other multimedia projects. This process typically involves a contractual agreement that outlines the terms of use and the associated royalties or fees.

What are the steps to license my music?

  1. Register Your Music: Sign up with a performance rights organization (PRO) like BMI or ASCAP.
  2. Promote Your Music: Network with music supervisors, producers, and other industry professionals.
  3. Target Specific Projects: Research and pitch your music to projects that fit your style.
  4. Negotiate Terms: Discuss usage rights, duration, and compensation.
  5. Sign the Agreement: Finalize and keep a copy of the contract.

What are the benefits of licensing my music?

  • Increased Exposure: Reach a larger audience through media features.
  • Financial Revenue: Earn performance royalties and sync fees.
  • Collaboration Opportunities: Connect with industry professionals and other artists.
  • Creative Fulfillment: See your music used in various contexts, validating your artistic vision.

What is a sync license?

A sync license grants the right to synchronize your music with visual media, such as a film, TV show, or advertisement. This enhances the overall impact and emotional connection for the audience.

How do I obtain a sync license?

  1. Identify Opportunities: Research suitable projects.
  2. Pitch Your Music: Contact relevant parties and showcase your music.
  3. Negotiate Terms: Discuss usage, duration, and compensation.
  4. Complete Legal Documentation: Ensure all contracts and cue sheets are in place.
  5. Deliver Required Files: Provide high-quality recordings and stems.

What types of music are in high demand for licensing?

  • Cinematic trailer music
  • Upbeat corporate tracks
  • Short rock/pop songs
  • Emotive piano and orchestral pieces
  • Energetic electronic dance music
  • Fun kids’ songs and lullabies
  • Rhythmic beats for urban brands
  • Feel-good acoustic pop/folk
  • Dramatic orchestral themes

Where is licensed music commonly used?

  • Video advertisements
  • Corporate explainer videos
  • Movie and show trailers
  • Backgrounds in YouTube videos
  • Video game soundtracks
  • On-hold phone music
  • Podcast intros/outros
  • Sports arena soundtracks

What composition lengths are typically needed?

  • 15-30 second loops
  • 30-60 second spots
  • 1-2 minute cinematic themes
  • Full 2-4 minute songs
  • 5-10 minute ambient backgrounds

How should I plan my compositions for licensing?

  • Leave space for voiceovers.
  • Craft tunes that evoke desired emotions.
  • Focus on central melodic hooks.
  • Allow for easy looping of sections.
  • Align hits, swells, and effects with visuals.
  • Design compositions for flexible editing and adaptation.

What are some tips for composing commercially appealing music?

  • Use common time signatures like 4/4.
  • Focus on memorable melodic themes.
  • Stick to major/minor keys.
  • Follow familiar song structures.
  • Consider popular trends.
  • Use accessible instrument combinations.
  • Convey universally relatable moods.

How should I arrange instrumentation?

  • Define your style with specific instruments.
  • Layer synthesizers and sound design elements.
  • Double melodies for richness.
  • Use rhythm sections for energy.
  • Add ambient textures.
  • Feature solo instruments for melodic lines.
  • Build dynamic arcs with swells and hits.
  • Pan layers strategically.

What are some mixing tips for commercial clarity?

  • Make the main melody clear.
  • Maintain consistent volume levels.
  • EQ elements to have space in the frequency spectrum.
  • Use compression judiciously.
  • Add subtle effects for depth.
  • Ensure seamless layering with fades.
  • Avoid overcompression.
  • Reference commercially released songs.

How can I create impactful cinematic compositions?

  • Establish mood from the start.
  • Build tension and emotion gradually.
  • Use evocative chord progressions.
  • Feature solo melodic instruments.
  • Add swells and risers.
  • Switch between sparse and full sections.
  • Time hits to support action.
  • Shift keys, tempos, and modes for interest.

What are some tips for producing corporate background music?

  • Maintain consistent energy and tempo.
  • Use a driving rhythmic groove.
  • Include motivational melodic riffs.
  • Use major keys and uplifting melodies.
  • Add subtle production effects.
  • Leave space for voiceovers.
  • Accentuate transitions with sweeps.

How can I optimize my music for varied uses?

  • Stick to common song structures.
  • Feature viral-ready hooks.
  • Use radio-friendly keys and melodies.
  • Produce multiple mixes and arrangements.
  • Make themes broad enough for reuse.
  • Provide isolated vocal tracks.
  • Design hits and effects for easy editing.
  • Enable adaptable structures.

How can I create custom sonic branding?

  • Study the brand’s visual identity.
  • Identify target demographics.
  • Research competitors.
  • Map out desired emotions and traits.
  • Propose branded musical mnemonics.
  • Provide mix stems for adaptation.
  • Deliver multiple lengths and arrangements.

What are some tips for composing video game music?

  • Create unique themes for characters and levels.
  • Produce adaptable tracks.
  • Time hits with player actions.
  • Build seamless cycling tracks.
  • Provide mix stems for muting/isolating parts.
  • Include musical stingers for events.
  • Design mood music for environments.
  • Deliver varied intensities and densities.

What should I include in my publishing checklist?

  • Ensure proper rights for samples and remixes.
  • Render mixed stereo WAV files.
  • Master recordings to commercial loudness levels.
  • Trim starts/ends for onset space.
  • Provide loopable sections.
  • Include various length edits.
  • Render isolated stems.
  • Organize files clearly.
  • Add metadata like titles and ISRC codes.
  • Register songs with PROs.

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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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