How To Pitch Music To Music Supervisors

How to Pitch Music and Influence Supervisors

An Editorial
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.

Why?

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?”

Everything.

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.

 

 

How The White Stripes Create Songs

Excerpt from Rolling Stone ..

A year ago, I listened to the first tape Meg and I made. It’s a recording of the first time we played together. It still sounds raw and cool. We did [David Bowie’s] “Moon-age Daydream.” Then we wrote “Screwdriver,” our first song. There was a red screwdriver sitting on the table. We wrote the song that afternoon, and it hasn’t changed at all since that day.
When we play a song I wrote, it’s the White Stripes covering a Jack White song-that’s the best way to describe it. I write most of my songs on piano and acoustic guitar. Then I show it to Meg, and it’s like, “OK, how can we do this onstage?” That becomes the way we do it, from then on.

Are there times when Meg’s style of drumming is too limiting — that you can’t take a song as far as you’d like to go?
No. I never thought, “God, I wish Neil Peart was in this band.” It’s kind of funny: When people critique hip-hop, they’re scared to open up, for fear of being called racist. But they’re not scared to open up on female musicians, out of pure sexism.
Meg is the best part of this band. It never would have worked with anybody else, because it would have been too complicated. When she started to play drums with me, just on a lark, it felt liberating and refreshing. There was something in it that opened me up. It was my doorway to playing the blues, without anyone over my shoulder going, “Oh, white-boy blues, white-boy bar band.” I could really get down to something.
Do you think the brother-sister thing was a miscalculation — that you overdid the mythmaking?

Do you sing? Get this great studio mic_

I saw a review of our new album, and it said, “Every single component of the White Stripes is a gigantic lie.” What does that mean? Have I sat down and said I was born in Mississippi? No. Did I say I grew up on a plantation and learned how to play guitar from a blind man? I never said anything like that. It’s funny that people think me and Meg sit up late at night, in front of a gas lamp, and come up with these intricate lies to trick people.
But because you present that relationship as fact, it obscures your real connection as a couple — the truth and value of what you play together.
I want you to imagine if we had presented ourselves in another fashion, that people might have thought was the truth. How would we have been perceived, right off the bat? When you see a band that is two pieces, husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend, you think. “Oh, I see . . .” When they’re brother and sister, you go, “Oh, that’s interesting.” You care more about the music, not the relationship — whether they’re trying to save their relationship by being in a band.

You don’t think about that with a brother and sister. They’re mated for life. That’s what family is like.

 

Studio accesories

So when did you come up with the idea?
I’m not saying I came up with anything [laughs]. It’s like people thinking we would be more real if we went onstage in jeans and T-shirts. How ignorant is that, to think that because they don’t wear a suit onstage that someone is giving you the real deal? People do come and see us and think, “Look at all these gimmicks.” Go ahead, man. Go ahead and think that.

How do you write songs? Do you sit down and pound something out every day?
Until a couple of months before Satan, I hadn’t written anything in a year and a half. We’d been touring, and I don’t write on tour.

Usually, I’ll just be walking around the house. I’ll go by the piano, sit down, and the first thing that comes out turns into something. It’s always the first line. I had a conversation with someone, and I said to myself, “I blew it,” after I got off the phone. Then I started goofing around: “I blew it/And if I knew what to do, then I’d do it” [from “Forever for Her (Is Over for Me)”]. You get three lines, and you know: “I better go write this down.” Sometimes you find yourself going downstairs and writing a song, even though you want to go to bed. It’s out of your control.

Learning Guitar? Need a new instrument?

How much do you write about yourself? Seven Nation Army, on Elephant. sounds like it is full of autobiography: the experience of feeling surrounded, defensive, even paranoid, after the sudden success of White Blood Cells.
That song started out about two specific people I knew in Detroit. It was about gossip, the spreading of lies and the other person’s reaction to it. It came from a frustration of watching my friends do this to each other. In the end, it started to become a metaphor for things I was going through.

But I never set out to write an exposé on myself. To me, the song was a blues at the beginning of the twenty-first century. The third verse [“I’m going to Wichita/Far from this opera forevermore”] could be something from a hundred years ago. It won a Grammy for Best Rock Song. [Laughs] Maybe it should have won for Best Paranoid Blues Song.

You wrote about the actress Rita Hayworth in two Satan songs; “White Moon” and “Take, Take, Take.” But it’s hard not to hear your own mixed feelings about celebrity, especially in the latter.
Rita Hayworth became an all-encompassing metaphor for everything I was thinking about while making the album. There was an autograph of hers — she had kissed a piece of paper, left a lip print on it, and underneath it said, “My heart is in my mouth.” I loved that statement and wondered why she wrote that.

There was also the fact that she was Latino and had changed her name. She had become something different, morphed herself and was trying to put something behind her. And there was the shallowness of celebrity when it’s thrown upon you. All of that was going around in these songs: what had been thrown on me, things I’d never asked for. Every song on that album is about truth.

 

Goin’ hard? Need a new guitar?