Adventures In Audio with Audio Masterclass
How can I get my music into TV

How can I get my music into TV, films and games?


Question from an Audio Masterclass visitor:

Hello, I am sending you this e-mail in hope that you could possibly give me a little help as you seem to be in the ideal industry.

I am looking for help anywhere I can in locating places which require music to be made for general media such as TV, Films, Video Games etc.

I have been in the production game for around 7 years now but mainly work on music. I have however just recently graduated from university after doing a music technology degree and I am eagerly looking for any way to get into this side of the industry.

Any help would be much much appreciated.

Kind Regards

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David Mellor responds:

Yes, it is certainly possible to get your music into TV. Films and games are tougher markets, so best start with the easier option.

One thing that can be said with certainty about TV music is that a lot of it isn't very complex. And where popular music demands a very searching awareness of, and strict adherence to, the stylistic necessities of the day, TV music is nowhere near so specific.

So producing music for TV need not take the compositional talent of Beethoven, the arranging skills of Nelson Riddle nor the production talent of George Martin. Nor a 64-track Pro Tools HD system.

It does however need to satisfy the particular requirements of TV, which in the main are to support the visuals and voiceover. So to compose and record TV music successfully, you do need to watch a lot of TV. If you can blank out or cover the screen so you can really concentrate on the music, for at least some of your listening, then that would be good.

When you have absorbed the styles and range of genres, and have figured out which area of TV production is most suited to your talents, you need to start promoting your work.

You might think that since music for TV is so practically 'do-able' then all the work goes to friends and relatives of TV producers. Undoubtedly it is good to have contacts. But there is so much music required to fill all the channels every day, that opportunities are certainly available.

When you are absolutely sure that your work is comparable with music that is actually used on TV. Absolutely sure. Then you can start promoting yourself.

You need a 'showreel'. This can take the form of a DVD, but it doesn't hurt to include a CD version as well so it can be played in a producer's car. Not even TV producers all have in-car DVD yet!

An established composer would include clips of actual TV programs containing their work. You won't have this yet, so you need to improvise.

You could use clips you have recorded from TV and replace the sound track with your own. Technically this would be a breach of copyright, but it goes on all the time. Make your own decision on this point. Don't try to kid anyone that your music actually was used on TV with the clips – starting from such an untruth isn't going to be good for business relationships.

Alternatively you could persuade someone with a DV camera and directorial ambitions to cooperate with you, so you have a jointly produced showreel that either of you can use.

Your showreel should be presented to a standard that is comparable to other people's showreels – a double DVD case for both the DVD and CD versions; very neat printing on the discs. Professional artwork and typography is a must, but plainer and more understated than a commercial DVD. Think in terms of a media company letterhead – that is the kind of style that can work.

When all of that is in place – promote, promote and promote. Get your showreel heard by anyone in the TV industry who is in a position to have influence. You can get names of production personnel from TV show credits. Tracking them down isn't easy, but if you have the determination you will do it.

It is my belief that anyone who can produce music of a similar standard to that which is already used on TV, can get their own work on TV, if they promote themselves hard enough, for long enough.

If you have a showreel and would like it reviewed on Audio Masterclass, you can find the address below. Please mark your package clearly 'Showreel'.

David Mellor

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Producing Lauren Balthrop

One song and only one day to professionally produce it! Can it be done? Find out as the pros at Dubway Studios in New York City take you on a recording and mixing adventure in this first edition of our new Docutorial™ series we call SongCraft!

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David Mellor