How To Get Your Music Heard (And Eventually Licensed)

In a world where music is everywhere, and thousands of artists are competing for the same slice of recognition in the music industry, it is important to be smart and really do your homework when it comes to getting your music noticed. 

I’m sure you’ve heard this famous line from the kid with the obvious need to fit in: “I got that million dollar beat, yo.”

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but chances are…you don’t, so please get your Beats by Dre headphones out of my face and sit the eff down.

This isn’t a formula for success, nor is it a get rich quick scheme. However, these tips can serve as a framework that will help put you (and your music) on the right path.

  • First And Foremost: Have Good Music!

I can’t stress this enough. Of course, everyone will think his or her music is “the greatest thing ever made,” but being humble and open to criticism not only helps you artistically, but will also help you grow as a human being.

Getting feedback from friends and family is a good thing (don’t get me wrong), but chances are they’ll tell you what you want to hear as a means to not hurt your feelings. If you want 100% unbiased, completely objective reviews of your music, then the Internet is where you’ll get it. is a good starting point, but I’m sure if you do enough browsing on Google, you’ll find similar places where people will be happy to give you their honest opinion.

  • Step 2: Master The Sh*t Out of Your Music

Get it as close to perfect as possible in the studio. Professionals in the music industry are extremely busy, so the less work they have to do on their end, the better.

Popular music is popular for a reason. A huge number of people enjoy listening to it, and guess what…it sells. We are in the music BUSINESS people, so music that isn’t marketable or can’t sell is Dead On Arrival.

You may be thinking, “Oh, that’s selling out and I don’t sell out.” That’s perfectly fine, if that’s how you really feel, but keep in mind that there are thousands of other musicians, DJs, and/or producers who are chomping at the bit to get exactly where you want to be, and will do whatever needs to be done to get there.

Pride is a good thing, but being too proud will get you nowhere fast. Supervisors and editors know exactly what they are looking for, and if your material doesn’t meet that requirement to a tee, then it’s on to the next.

But don’t take my word for it. Listen to some industry professionals from the 2012 ASCAP EXPO:

The video is 13:00 long; however, it is extremely educational on the topic of licensing and how professionals go about choosing their music.

  • Step 3: Music Publishers

If you want to “Do It Yourself” and publish your music alone, more power to ya. There are a number of successful artists who have done it this way and kept all of the rights to their music, ultimately yielding the best possible return.

Keep in mind, there will be a large amount of time and energy spent by taking this route, so be prepared to sacrifice giving 100% of your attention to the music, unless of course you have a manager taking care of the business end of things…or maybe you’re just “nice like that”…who knows? Find out what works for you.

There are also huge advantages of having a music publisher represent your music. For one, they have already established the contacts needed to get your music in front of the right people.

A publisher acts as a trusted source with a solid reputation for giving supervisors or labels exactly what they are looking for, and isn’t some average Joe cold-calling them in the middle of the afternoon with no experience of how licensing really works (this may not be you, but it is just an example of exactly what NOT to do).

On the flip side, just because some music publishers have an LLC and will tell you they “made x amount of money with this song,” it is still important to do your research and make sure they are the company that will best represent your music.

Choosing a music publisher is like choosing a boyfriend or girlfriend. It is a 50/50 partnership where communication is key and dinner is always on the table when you get home from work.

  • Step 4: Network!

Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate! Never miss the opportunity to create with other like-minded individuals. You never know what will come of it, and you never know who might be listening.

Find people who love what they do as much as you. Even if all else fails, at least you’ll be making good music with passionate and talented people (and that’s the main reason we all got into music, right?).

  • Resources:

If licensing your music is something you are genuinely interested in, my advice would be to learn as much as you can about it. Here are just a few helpful resources that can get you started:

Indaba Music (wink wink, hint hint):

“The Musicians Guide To Licensing Music” by Darren Wisely and Daylle Deanna Shwartz (Book).

CD Baby:


*If you’ve had any experience with music licensing and would like to share your story and/or give some advice, please feel free in the comments below*

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227 Responses to How To Get Your Music Heard (And Eventually Licensed)

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