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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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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- Identify potential opportunities for your music by researching production companies, advertising agencies, and music supervisors who work on projects that suit your style.
- 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.
- If they express interest, negotiate the terms of the sync license, including the usage, duration, and compensation.
- Once an agreement is reached, ensure that you have all the necessary legal documentation in place, including contracts and cue sheets.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 1 Producing Original Music That Grabs Attention: Composition Tips for Licensing
- 1.1 How to Get Your Music Licensed
- 1.2 What is a Sync License and How Does it Work?
- 1.3 Researching Music Licensing Opportunities
- 1.4 Planning Compositions Around Usage
- 1.5 Composing For Commercial Appeal
- 1.6 Arranging Instrumentation Strategically
- 1.7 Mixing for Commercial Clarity
- 1.8 Composing Emotive Cinematic Pieces
- 1.9 Producing Corporate Background Music
- 1.10 Composing Stock Songs for Varied Uses
- 1.11 Producing Custom Sonic Branding
- 1.12 Composing Music for Video Games
- 1.13 Optimizing Music Publishing and Packaging
- 1.14 Conclusion