5 Best Music Licensing Companies & How to Pitch Your Songs (2022)

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5 Best Music Licensing Companies & How to Pitch Your Songs (1)

Author: Caleb J. Murphy

Last updated: Oct 21, 2022

Reads: 11,137

Caleb J. Murphy is a songwriter/producer based in Austin, TX, whose music has been on ABC, NBC, NPR, and in hundreds of indie film projects. His advice for musicians has been featured by Digital Music News, Bandzoogle, BMI, and ASCAP. He also launched Musician With A Day Job where he writes about his experience as an active indie musician.
FULL BIO

  1. Introduction
  2. What Is a Music Licensing Company?
  3. Music Licensing Companies to Check Out
  4. How Do I Get My Music Licensed?
  5. 1. Check Out Their Website
  6. 2. Find Out What Their Splits Are
  7. 3. Learn What Their Current Artists Think
    1. Contact the artists directly
    2. Join a FaceBook group or subreddit
    3. Join MusicLibraryReport
  8. 4. Keep Submitting
  9. The Pros and Cons of the DIY Approach
  10. Some General Rules for Pitching Music for Licensing
  11. Staying Authentic
  12. FAQ
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People also ask

  1. How do I get my music licensed?
  2. Which is better ASCAP or BMI?
  3. How long is a music license good for?

Music licensing is a hard market to get into, but if you make the right kind of music, you can do really well.

Music licensing is a hard market to get into, but if you make professional-level music, you can do really well, regardless of genre.

Some artists even make a living solely from licensing songs.

The best way to get into sync licensing is to partner with a music licensing company or agent.

Here are 6 of the music licensing companies we recommend indie musicians check out:

  • Crucial Music
  • Musicbed
  • AudioSocket
  • Songtradr
  • SyncDaddy
  • Marmoset

What Is a Music Licensing Company?

Music licensing is when music is used for commercial purposes, like in a TV ad, show, a film, or a video game. A licensing agreement makes sure the copyright holder of the song gets paid for the use of the song.

So anytime you hear music in a commercial, that tells you an artist signed a music licensing deal and made money — sometimes a lot of money.

Music licensing companies takes you on as a client, then helps you get music placement deals. In short, when your song gets heard, you get paid.

In the music licensing contract, it would state how much the licensing company gets and how much the artist gets. It’s often 50-50.

How do I get my music licensed?

Caleb J. Murphy

The best way to get your music on TV shows, in commercials, in video games, or in films is to work with a music licensing company. They have relationships with music supervisors (the people who choose the music for visual media) and they execute contracts on your behalf.


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Music Licensing Companies to Check Out

I’m not saying these are the “best” companies out there because everyone makes different music and these companies offer different benefits. But here are a few of the best to get you started:

Which is better ASCAP or BMI?

Caleb J. Murphy

We can’t say one of these Performance Rights Organizations is better than the other. They both collect performance royalties from placements you’ve gotten in visual media that’s aired publicly. It’s best to see the benefits each offer and make the decision that’s best for you.

Hey, what do you think about trying our new Music Career HelperMusic Career Helper really quick? It’s totally free and could help get your career moving fast! Give it a try. It’s totally free and you have nothing to lose.

How Do I Get My Music Licensed?

First, you need to figure out what you want in a licensing company and what your deal-breakers are. For example, I don’t want to work with a company that offers any less than a 50/50 split. I want the company to accept my music based on its merit and licensability, so I want it to be an equal partnership.

Then you’ll need to start submitting to every single licensing company that meets your requirements and expectations.

So, as you research music licensing companies, below are some things to consider that will help you know who’s a good fit.

These are 4 practical steps you can take as you’re looking for the right music licensing company to represent you and your tunes.

How long is a music license good for?

Caleb J. Murphy

This is something that will be listed in your licensing contract. The length of time the licensor can use your song can be in perpetuity, it can be a one-time use (which means you get paid if the licensor wants to use it again), and it can be for a specific time frame. These details will be in the agreement, which you should read in its entirety and even hire a music lawyer to review before you sign anything.

1. Check Out Their Website

If a licensing company’s website is ugly and hard to navigate, that’s not good.

And here’s why you should care: if it’s hard for you to navigate their website, chances are that it will be difficult for people who want to license your music.

So if you visit a music licensing company and your first thought is “ew” or “ugh,” steer clear of them.

Also, it could be a good idea to look at their website traffic, especially if it’s a music library. More traffic means more chances that your music will be licensed. You can use free tools like Similar Web or Alexa’s traffic tool to check the stats.

2. Find Out What Their Splits Are

A split is simply how the licensing company splits the licensing profits with their artists. An industry standard split is 50/50 – 50% of the sync fee (paid upfront) and 50% of the backend performance royalties (paid through your Performance Rights Organization).

Many companies will state their splits on their website. But for those that don’t, you can simply email them and ask. If they don’t get back to you, you can just submit your music and then ask about their splits once they’re interested in working with you.

3. Learn What Their Current Artists Think

The best way to learn about a music licensing company or library is to hear from those who have gone before you.

Here are some ways you can hear from artists already working with a company:

Contact the artists directly

If the company has a page on their site that lists some of the artists they work with, Google their names, find their website and contact info, and shoot them an email.

Join a FaceBook group or subreddit

You can join a FaceBook group like Sync Lounge (which is all about sync licensing) or post in relevant subreddits. I’ve found this to be the most helpful method for vetting a music licensing company.

Join MusicLibraryReport

MusicLibraryReport is a website specifically for artists to share their experiences with different music licensing companies (but it requires a membership fee).

4. Keep Submitting

Much of sync licensing is a waiting game. You make music, pitch it to your vetted music licensing companies, then wait for them to land you a placement.

But just because you’re waiting for your previous music to get placed doesn’t mean you can’t be making more music. Keep making music. Keep submitting it to companies.

A lot (maybe most) of your submissions will probably be rejected. But that’s just because certain companies need certain types of music, and it may not be that your music isn’t “good” enough.

The Pros and Cons of the DIY Approach

Some artists try to represent themselves so they can keep 100% of the profit, meaning they don’t work with a music licensing company or agent. But, although it can pay off, going that route is not as easy.

This typically looks like reaching out to Music Supervisors directly. These are the folks who work for a film company to pick the music for an ad, TV show, or film. While cold emailing supervisors used to be okay to do, it’s no longer a good idea. Supervisors have been burned one too many times because an artist didn’t have the proper rights to the song, leaving the supervisor legally hanging out to dry.

However, if a music supervisor specifically asks for artists to submit music and provides a link or email address, that’s of course totally okay. I’ve seen supervisors on TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram posting a call for submissions.

So let’s look at the pros and cons of taking the DIY approach…

Pros:

  • You’re in control, meaning you keep 100% of profits you make from a placement
  • It may be more rewarding when you’re able to pull this off on your own

Cons:

  • You have to write and execute contracts, which can be difficult for someone who’s not a lawyer
  • It takes a ton of work and time
  • Most music supervisors don’t accept submissions directly from artists
  • You usually have to know the right people who know the right people — it’s unlikely that cold emails will get you anywhere
  • You may not know how to negotiate as good of compensation that a music licensing company could.

Basically, avoid going the DIY approach with sync licensing. It’s totally worth working with a music licensing company.

Some General Rules for Pitching Music for Licensing

Now let’s run through a few more general rules for pitching your music to a music licensing company:

  • Always follow the music licensing company’s submission guidelines first and foremost
  • Add metadata to every song: your contact info, the feel/vibe of the song, and that you own 200% of the song. I recommend DISCO for this.
  • Send streaming/download links to MP3s, not attachments (only to music supervisors who have asked for submissions).
  • Don’t pitch the amount of money you want to be paid (they pay you a percentage of what they get, your fee is not negotiable).
  • Be polite and charming.
  • If you haven’t gotten a response after two months, send a follow-up email with new music, don’t say something like, “Have you listened to that song I sent yet?”
  • Just because you haven’t gotten a response doesn’t mean that somebody didn’t listen and enjoy. It may just be that they don’t need that type of music.
  • Make sure you understand the contract before signing anything.
  • Be patient and persistent.
  • Network with filmmakers, music supervisors, musicians, and other music industry people any chance you get.
  • Always make authentic music.

Staying Authentic

Whatever kind of music you make, there’s a type of visual media it can be paired with in an impactful and money-making way.

Do you make chill acoustic music? Indie films love that genre.

EDM? Look at car commercials.

Death metal? There’s surely a show that needs a bit of that.

The point is, keep making the music that’s authentic to you, that you are excited about, and it will find its place in the sync licensing world. Because if you’re excited about it, chances are other people — like Music Licensing Agents — will be too.

That way, your music will basically pitch itself to music licensing companies.

FAQ

How can I publish my own music?

Alison Stolpa (Careers in Music Staff)

Publishing your music can seem complicated but there are really only two things you have to do:

  1. Register your songs with the Library of Congress
  2. Join a PRO (performing rights organization) such as BMI, ASCAP, or SESAC that will collect royalties from your music sales.

Should I publish my own music?

Alison Stolpa (Careers in Music Staff)

Publishing your own music means a lot more work than leaving it to a traditional publishing company. You’ll definitely have to handle more of the day-to-day administrative/business duties and put more effort into promoting your music. However, you’ll retain creative control, as well as a larger percentage of profits from your music sales.

So the question is: are you super busy and need someone else to get you leads on music sales and handle the behind-the-scenes operations? Or are you looking to save money and retain more of your rights as a music creator?

Do you have to copyright your music?

Alison Stolpa (Careers in Music Staff)

If your music is picking up traction and gaining an audience outside of just your family and friends, it’s time to think about copyrighting your tunes. Copyright will give you legal ownership and help you eventually collect royalties.

Lots of people will tell you that all you have to do to ensure your copyright is to write it down or record it. While important, this isn’t the whole story. You MUST also fill out the required paperwork and submit your copyright request to the US Copyright Office.

For a more in-depth look at the process, check out our blog on this topic.

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