Before I begin, I want you to know that I am by no means an expert on this topic, but I felt that it had to be addressed since so many people are always asking the same question – “How do I get placements?”.
What follows is more or less an observation from my point of view on the topic of placements, plus a lot of common sense. I suggest that you do your own research on the topic, but also use my advice as a starting point.
It’s the question that many producers have been asking for so many years. So how do you get placements? The short answer is: you need to hustle. I know, I know, you’re probably sucking your teeth right about now and asking me for “real talk” and to get right to the point, but it’s not as simple as that.
The thing with placements is that is more or less just like when you try to sell beats in the Marketplace, there are a number of variables that can determine if you sell or not. The number one thing you must remember is that labels, TV, movies, etc. are not looking to buy your beats. What they’re looking for is music that is similar to the music made by popular artists – for cheap.
As a producer, I know it can frustrating to hear that you won’t get placements based upon your original music. We all take pride in the music we create, but the sad reality is that those music agents are not looking for 90’s Hip Hop beats, rather they want beats that sound like Rihanna’s music, for example.
Nobody Is Going To Hold Your Hand
There is no blueprint to getting placements, and it’s not like someone can grab you by the hand and walk you through each step until you start making money. The problem with the question of “How do I get placements?” is it implies that the person asking wants to be shown how to get from point A to Z instantly. It doesn’t work like that because you still have to through the whole alphabet before you reach your destination.
My sister does voice over work, and when she first started over ten years ago, she had no experience whatsoever and she had no idea how to get started. So what she did was she started to network and ask people how to break into the business. She quickly formed relationships and got to know the basics of doing voice overs, and how to get hired. At first it was hard, and she kept getting passed up, but then she got hired a few times, and she continued to network with as many people as possible. After a while, she was hired by a big company, and to this day she is the main voice for that company, and I hear her voice on commercials that I see every day.
So how did that happen?
A music library is essentially a company that offers the service of helping you get placements. You sign up to their website and then you set up your profile, which of course includes your music, and you’re ready to start looking for gigs. Basically, it’s a job board. This is what I mean when I say that you have to hustle and network because no one is going to hand you a job, pick your beats, and throw insane amount of money at you.
Just like any freelance job board, it’s hit or miss. I used to do freelance web design and I would often visit these job boards and browse through, trying to land a gig. I got a few and some were better than others, but I still had to work hard to land those jobs.
The same thing applies to music libraries and your music. When you visit some of these sites, you get to see what the project is, and then decided if you should apply or not.
Even better than the job boards, are music supervisors. These are the people that find music for the labels, TV, movies, etc. and they are everywhere. Your best bet is to find them at music conferences and social media. It’s not like you just hand them your business card and they’re going to call you when they have work, but the bottom line is that you must network.
Most of the time when a project first starts up, the music supervisor will hand off some of the work to people they know and trust, and then if they need more than that, they will then go to forums, music libraries, and social media to find people like you.
I’ve said it countless times but unfortunately not many people want to hear it – you need to network and meet people. I think the problem today is that most people expect to be shown how to get placements, like it’s a well kept secret that only a few know about, when in fact it’s just about working your butt off.
Not everything is online, and in order to get placements, you’re going to have to go out and meet people in the real world and make it happen. It doesn’t mean that your music will get picked for a gig, but at least you’ve reached out to the people that can get you work, such as music supervisors.
Just like a fat person that wants to lose weight, there is no magic pill because it boils down to diet and exercise. The same can be said for music placements, and that’s why I don’t know why it’s so hard for people to understand.
I often look at it with the question, “How did producers get placements before the internet?”. It’s simple – they talked to other people in the industry and networked!
As I mentioned in the beginning, I’m not an expert on this subject. But my advice is that you first look to websites (music libraries), forums, and social media to get the attention of those in the industry. At the same time, check out those websites and see how other people are promoting themselves, and more importantly, how their music sounds.
You must remember that your music needs to stand out, but it has to be what they’re looking for in a particular gig. If the gig is asking for music that sounds like something you would hear on CSI, well then common sense tells you that they won’t want your 90’s Hip Hop.
It can be very frustrating when you’re looking to land a paid gig, especially since there’s thousands of other people trying to do the same thing as you. I’ve been there (not with music placements, but with web design), and it would drive me nuts when I would be turned down because they didn’t like my designs or the price I was asking.
Keep hustling and do your research then one day you will land your first gig. And that is your first step to getting regular music placements.