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New Opportunties for Indie Artists in Music Licensing

As a Music Supervisor, to say that my business has changed in the last few years, would be an understatement.  Most of this change has come about because of the access and ease of our friend the Internet.   It has increased my ability to research and keep myself organized beyond anything I could do on my own just a few years ago, and it makes my inner Virgo surge with happiness.

The Internet has also had a big impact on the pace and volume of my work as a Music Sup.  Interestingly, and not something I would have predicted, it isn’t so much the variety of jobs has increased, but the type of work for a campaign has quadrupled.

A brand used to order  a single :60 second spot with some :30 & :15 versions using the same music. Today, a brand has MULTIPLE channels to distribute content for them, ie, YouTube, and simply more screen for content (mobile phones, iPads, etc).

What do all of these changes in the industry mean for indie Artists and Bands?

Brands are producing video content for marketing at a rapid pace, and all of that content is in need of music.

That is really good news.  It levels the playing field for smaller artists and gives them a shot at exposure that has been reserved for bigger bands with management teams and record labels.

While it does give artists increased exposure, the revenues are not a high on web content as they are on TV.  As you can imagine, the budget for online video is not nearly the same as for TV.  There is also less of a concentrated, targeted viewing audience. However, this is not all bad.

Most Sups, if they have a decent budget are going to shop with majors to make sure the client feels they are getting their monies worth, but when you step down to online only content you are going from a $50,000 budget to a $5,000 which most majors and some Indies won’t touch.

Here is where your music gets a shot.  The reality is that these jobs are doubling in numbers every day.

Another trend that has been showing up lately is for brands that don’t use TV at all.  They produce content exclusively for their website and YouTube channel.  Red Bull and American Eagle are great examples of national brands that put their marketing dollars into video content rather than commercials.

Another great piece of news for the Indie artist is that most of these companies run all marketing in house and have a Music Supervisor or Music Director.  Which makes contacting them far easier than trying to track down a Music Supervisor at an ad agency.

The music licensing world has quietly and rapidly gotten bigger over the last three years.  I can tell you as a Music Supervisor with over 12 years of experience, this is just the beginning of this growth online.  The number of ways that content is being produced and distributed is a game changer for the indie artist.

I refer to this sector of growth as the MIDDLE MARKET.  It is huge, and surprisingly,  largely untapped. There are literally hundreds of thousands of opportunities for your music to get placed.

Of course I would never discourage you from gunning for that life changing license on a TV show or National/Global ad campaign, but you will have a lot less competition, make more money now and gain incredible exposure if you focus on these online opportunities.   It is a great way to diversify your catalog as well as your STRATEGY.



Target Back to School

I wanted to post this spot because I think it is a great representation of “Happy, Upbeat Music with Vocal Instrumentation.” How many of you have a song like this? What is your STRATEGY for how to get that music to a potential buyer? If your answer is YES I DO HAVE A SONG, and NO I DON”T HAVE A PLAN….then make sure you check out some of my free training vids….lots of good stuff.

SXSW Wrap up – Sarah's picks!

Okay Okay, I know most serious bloggers are posting their Coachella picks right now, but I am a teensy bit late getting my SXSW picks up, but hang with me people.

I wrapped up my last class at UCLA last month and have turned 100% of my attention to GET YOUR MUSIC LICENSED. Deep into writing mode.

Before I give my play by play let me just say a few things as a six year vet of SXSW. It’s overwhelming – every year, but this year even more. It felt as if there were more bands then ever, and as a music lover and music supervisor, it is REALLY HARD to go see new bands instead of going to the see the bands you already love and are dying to see live. BUT I was diligent this year and stuck to  a tight regime of new music, and let me tell you. IT PAID OFF. I left SXSW this year with more new musical obsessions then in six years combined. So to the young bands who fought tooth and nail to be there. KUDOS.

And for those of you who might be in a band, and will someday look at each other and ask yourself if it’s worth it to hawk your fixie and get your band to Austin, the answer is YES! You can buy another bike. Go to SXSW!

This event has not lost it’s luster – it serves it’s purpose for me; to discover new music.

So here is my SXSW day by day….highlights only.


I started off with the IODA party at EMO’s. It ain’t SouthBy until you have donned the doorstep of Emo’s. Bright sun to dark interior, belly up to the bar and Ahhhhhh Lone Star. I digress…..

Tom Brosseau and the lovely Angela Correa. I have loved Tom’s music for years, but as simple as Les Shelley’s was  – it was a new side of Tom. The vocal/acoustic guitar set was dripping with the vibe of a speakeasy in what you might imagine a bar in the goldrush era would have felt like. This was their only performance at SXSW this year – and it was lovely. It was apparently an early glimpse of a forthcoming record on Fat Cat Records. I will be staying tuned for that one.

Next came A Sunny Day in Glasglow. Overall I am not much of a Shoegazer fan, but something about this young troupe got my toes tapping. They are almost undefinable, like so many bands today, but I really like it. I am keeping my eye on this group.  Glimmers of The Shins, and, well anything that sounds like The Shins, I’m in.

Next I headed over to the Canadian Blast party, cause those Canadians are so damn nice and they keep putting out such amazing music. There was a french rap band on called Radio Radio. Sumthin’ about these guys got me. Maybe cause I was a hhhhuuugggeee MC Solar fan. I could barely even see them – but it caught my ear. Catch this track KENNY G. NON-STOP. They gave me that HELL YEAH feeling like the first time I heard FannyPack. Fun.

Then I met them and had a beer with them. This is why we love SXSW. Check out their widget as well.

Then I got to see You Say Party We Say Die. AWESOME!!! The lead singer is rocking a Pat Benatar vibe, it just, well it works. The song LAURA PALMERS PROM sounded undeniably synchable to me. Give this band some extra love, they need it this week, their drummer passed away during a performance this past weekend. So so sad. He was 30. RIP

The last band I saw was truly just an indulgence – Fanfarlo. Lovely, and PACKED at the KCRW showcase.


I didn’t get out until late afternoon as my GET YOUR MUSIC LICENSED workshop was at 3:30.

One of my SXSW rituals is the “Close your eyes and point to a band” technique. This year it was THE GIVERS. I knew nothing about this band. So I raced back to my room after the workshop, dropped my bags, grabbed a snack and headed out the door to see this band I knew nothing about. Ok, let me just say this. The BEST SXSW performance I have ever seen in 6 years. No lie. And at 5pm in the afternoon. When the set was over, my friend and I looked at each other and just said, “Ok, well I guess we can leave SXSW now – not gonna get much better then that!”

These kids put every cell of their bodies into this show and it was just so apparent. Listen to the EP, but it does only a fraction of justice to what I heard live. A band of 5, with a duo, male/female vocals. They are cute. They are killer. They are fun. They are deep. They f-in crushed it. This is one of those shows where everyone is looking around at each other going….”Is this really happening?” “Is it possible this band exists and no one knows about them?” Not for long people, not for long. I Saw You First is the song that I fell for the hardest. Incredibly synchable.

The rest of the day and night …..even though I caught some great shows, didn’t hold a candle. My cherry had been popped.


My day ended with a quick check up on my picks from last year – to see how they had progressed.

BEAR HANDS was a band that I found last year and wanted to see how they sounded after a year on the road. The answer to that was REALLY GOOD. A record everyone should check out.

Next I headed over to see my #1 pick from SXSW ’09 ANGRY VS. THE BEAR. This band has grown leaps and bounds in one year. If you have not heard their record, do yourself a little favor. LISTEN.

And lastly I wanted to see if THE GIVERS could do it again……I kept my ass up till 1am like a little groupie and it it was well worth it.

The music (I was able to get)  is available here to listen as a streaming playlist. Until next year!  Thanks!

Sarah’s SXSW Picks by sarahgavigan

© Sarah Gavigan