How to Pitch Music and Influence Supervisors
By Mark Frieser
One of the most important things a mentor ever did for me was give me a copy of Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”
I say this because there is probably no book I’ve read in my life that’s left more of a lasting, positive impact on my life personally and professionally.
Because it taught me the importance of being kind, of empathy, and especially in business, of taking time to discover and assist people with their needs and aspirations.
I’m sure some of you at this point are saying to yourselves:
“Wow, Mark, thank you for that touchy-feely story about you, Dale Carnegie and and your mentor, but what does that have to do with getting my music in a project?”
Why? Because, one of the most important things you can do as a music creator or rights owner is to understand the needs of music supervisors, ad producers and brand managers.
And I’m not just talking about all the technical things like good metadata, properly cleared music and the best way to present your music, either yourself or through a rep.
Getting those things right when pitching music is a given for anyone looking to successfully get their music into a project. I shouldn’t even have to mention it.
And I’m not even talking about whether or not your music is the right music creatively for a particular project they’re working on – we’ve covered that before too.
What I’m talking about is taking the time to understand their needs and motivations and how you – and your music – can help producers and supervisors realize their personal and professional goals.
Simply put, you need to get into the mindset of a music supervisor, brand manager or ad producer, then let that new thinking be the foundation of how you approach them and this business in general.
What keeps them up at night?
What do they want and need personally and professionally?
What makes them smile?
What makes them look good to their peers in the business?
What helps them solve a problem?
I’m going to illustrate my point with a few questions a music supervisor might ask themselves and what you can do to help them answer these questions successfully.
Where’s MY next gig coming from? Most music supervisors are independent, small business people who are, like all small businesspeople, constantly competing in the marketplace for business – from directors, showrunners, game producers, creative directors and brands.
And, for the ones that are full-time at a big company, ad firm or brand, while they may not be looking for the next “gig,” so to speak, they want to be known internally, with clients and in the industry at large as the go-to people when you need to solve problems and create excellence so they’ll get assigned the highest profile projects.
So, if there’s anything you can do to help them better position themselves in their careers – by being flexible on budget, by being on point and on time and by providing the right music for the right project – you’ll have an edge on your competition.
Does this make ME look cool? I believe one of the most important reasons people get into the business of music supervision is that they love turning other people onto the coolest, newest and most interesting music.
I’ve heard it from so many people in the business how much they enjoy hearing something new and sharing it with others.
In fact, I believe it’s a primary personal motivation for almost every music supervisor and ad producer. That’s probably why so many music supervisors have been/are DJs and journalists – both great careers for sharing music.
But there’s more to it – one of the most important things to a music supervisor or ad producer is having street cred and a good paid of ears.
And, nothing positions them as tastemakers in the business than consistently finding the coolest, most interesting, perfect tracks for a show, film, game or ad.
So, when you’re pitching music, don’t just think about whether it fits the project, think about whether it’s going to also make the music supervisor look like a real tastemaker.
How am I going to fix this? Beyond being creative partners with visual, brand and interactive directors, producers and showrunners, music supervisors and producers are called upon, often at the last minute, to solve a lot of complex problems.
And, if you can help them solve problems like where to get a song to replace one they had a rights issue with 6 hours from broadcast, or you can help them with a reduction in their budget for a particular project, or get them changes, stems or instrumentals on time for further edits, then you’re going to have a big advantage over your competition.
So if you want to be successful in pitching music and influencing supervisors, don’t just follow best practices – get into their mindset, understand their issues, their problems, their goals and then use this point of view to help you help them succeed.