The following guest blog is written by Berklee College of Music Alumnus and songwriter Aaron Davison, founder of How To License Your Music. Aaron created the site to educate musicians about how to make money by licensing their music in TV shows, films, video games, advertising and other media outlets. The site features a free newsletter as well as a variety of resources including articles, interviews, videos and more.
Navigating the Music Industry
Do you sometimes feel a little lost as you’re pursuing a career in music? Do you get confused as to what steps to take to move forward in your career? Do you wish there was some sort of a map or a formula that you could follow that would guarantee success?
The music industry is much different than more traditional career paths in that there really isn’t a clear path to take that will guarantee success. It’s not like becoming a doctor or a lawyer where you go to medical or law school, study hard, rack up debt in student loans and at the end become a doctor or lawyer. The music industry is much different in that you have to find your own path. What works for others that have come before you might not work for you. You have to find your own way.
Step by Step
However, just because there aren’t guarantees doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do that will greatly increase your chances of finding success. One way you can gain massive leverage is by simply taking action, consistently, every day. So for example, in the context of music licensing it’s rare to just pick up the phone, ask a supervisor what kind of music they need, send it to them and then… voila… your music is instantly licensed and a check is on the way.
It doesn’t usually work that way unless you’re really lucky. Here’s a more likely scenario: You submit your music to several different places. You wait and don’t hear anything right away. You submit your music to a couple more places. A few weeks later you learn that you’ve been accepted into one of the libraries that you submitted to originally. You get excited so you submit to several more publishers, libraries, etc. One of the publishers you submitted to likes your stuff and so you submit more tracks to said publisher. A couple months later the publisher is working on a project, publisher remembers your music and thinks you would be a great fit. Your music ends up being considered but passed on. A few weeks later the same publisher is working on a different project for which the publisher thinks you would be great. The publisher submits your music and this time the supervisor agrees and your music gets used.
Not How the Crow Flies
The point I’m making is that success in the music industry doesn’t typically have a straight, direct path. You’ll probably need to zigzag a little before you get to where you want to go. There are simply too many different elements at play for it to work any other way. You are competing against other songs, you’re waiting for the right project to line up at the right time, etc.
So how, knowing this, can you expedite your success? By taking action. Think about it. Your action is the one element you can control. It’s easy to see how taking more action will potentially lead to more positive results and it’s also easy to see that there are many “unknowns” and things that lie outside the realm of what you can control. So doesn’t it make more sense to focus on the part of the equation that you control? Therein lies your true power and leverage. Focus on the actions you are able to take and forget about the rest.
A to Z of Music Licensing
One of the things I suggest writers do in my program, The A To Z Of Music Licensing is something I call “The 90 Day Challenge”. The concept is very simple. Writers pick one new company working in the music licensing business to submit their music to, every day, for 90 days. If you write and produce high quality music and you follow this daily suggestion, I guarantee that you will move closer to your goal of licensing your music. You can also apply this same approach to other aspects of your music career such as booking gigs or writing songs.
Recently I heard this concept summed up nicely, “You can either wait for opportunities or you can create them.” So what are you waiting for?!