Licensing Instrumental Music in TV and Films

Lately I’ve been receiving quite a few emails regarding whether or not there is a need for instrumental music in TV, Film, etc. The simple answer is yes! There are opportunities for both instrumental and vocal music. Some production libraries only work with instrumental music, some only work with vocal music and many place both. It’s a simple matter of doing a little research and figuring out who needs what and submitting your music accordingly. Pop String Quartet

I should point out that instrumental placements tend to generate smaller performance royalties than songs with vocals. Sometimes they generate substantially less. Song placements are put into one of several categories by the show’s music supervisor, based on how prominent, or not prominent, the song is used. This information is entered onto what’s known as a cue sheet that is then submitted to the appropriate Performing Rights Organization. Songs with vocals tend to be considered more prominent whereas instrumental songs generally are considered to be “background” placements. The more prominently a song is featured, the larger the royalty that is generated.

And speaking of instrumental music, it’s a good idea to always have an instrumental version of each of your songs when you’re shopping them around for licensing opportunities. Occasionally songs will be licensed and either the vocal will be re-cut or the instrumental version of the song will be used instead of the vocal version. So, be prepared for these different potential scenarios by having an instrumental version of your song ready to go!


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