5 things to consider before licensing your music

Listen up musicians, we have 5 important things you should consider when thinking of getting into music licensing.

Last week, we had the special opportunity of hosting a GRAMMY Breakout Session with wonderful panel shedding some light on how to navigate through the world of music licensing. This all-star panel included our own Director of Music Supervision Ryan Wines; JT Griffith, Licensing Manager for Nike; Tara Perkins, band manager, The Gossip; and Kevin Moyer from Wieden + Kennedy.

Here are 5 important elements we gleaned from the panel...


A huge way to lose momentum in the licensing industry is to wait for an opportunity to present itself;  You'll never know when a licensing gig will come through, so be patient. The best way to spend your time is to keep writing, keep creating, keep recording.  Hone in on your craft and work on being ridiculously awesome at what you do. By consistently writing, you're not only adding to your important body of work, you're also keeping relevant and building your songwriting muscles in the process.


Personal relationships are much more lucrative than anything else. The music industry is a relationship-based industry and the best way is get your name out there is to associate a face with it. Put yourself out there, sometimes projects have been landed over drinks and dinner.  Oh, and your music has to be good too.


Before jumping into an agreement with any agency, research into where you're sending your music to.  If you play folk music, you may not stand out on a roster completely made up of other folk musicians.  Do you want to work a non-exclusive company? Or an exclusive company? Do you like the like companies that the agency works with? These are some of the questions you should have on your list before signing any contract.

"Finding an agency is like looking for a lover" - Kevin Moyer, Wieden + Kennedy

We couldn't agree more with this quote. Find an agency that is excited to work with you, an agency that you have a connection with.


It's high time we strip away the stigma of musicians being spacey.  We'd like to think we're a part of a cultural shift where music and art are considered as an important profession instead of just simple entertainment.  There is more to being a musician than playing music, you have to be professional and savvy. This means answering emails within a month, responding and anticipating any changes that may happen in a licensing project. There is an artist responsibility to uphold and stand up for.  Have a contract for everything, be accountable and hold people accountable. if this is how you want to make a living, treat it like a job.


This is an extremely important thing to have on hand.  Having instrumental versions of each of your songs is great; Having mastered instrumentals is even better.  This can be a critical element in landing a song. Nothing against your singing (you have a voice of an angel by the way), but there are so many things considered in placing a song, and one of them is making sure that vocals don't get in the way of any voiceovers that may be within the film.

All in all, if there's one thing to remember, there is no one solitary magic bullet approach to being successful in music licensing.  There are many ways and combinations that can lead to success, and they might come in ways you least expect, so be ready for anything.

Posted on March 31, 2014 and filed under Music.