How to Make Music Supervisors Love Your Music

composer homestudio homestudiotips musicproductiontips songwriter synclicensing synclicensingtips Jun 11, 2023

Before I can reveal how to make music supervisors love your music, I need to give you some background. Having worked closely with the late Cindy Badell-Slaughter, one of the top publishers in the entertainment industry, who introduced me to some of the greatest music supervisors in the industry, I learned an uncomfortable truth about the music licensing world.

Without exception, every single music supervisor that I have worked closely with and have spoken to invariably will talk about the need for higher quality music and higher quality recordings. Again, being the researcher that I am, I started asking music supervisors and publishers, “If you need higher quality music and recordings, what’s wrong with what you’re listening to, and how big of a problem is this?”

Here is the typical answer: “80% of what I listen to is either not composed well and/or is not produced well. I mean, obviously not ready for prime time. This makes my job much harder because in order to find the 20% of music that is at least worth my time listening to (not necessarily licensable, but at least worth listening to), I’ve got to wade through the 80% that’s just not ready.”

Two Missing Elements

So I then started researching how this could happen.

What I found was this: Though it was a hassle in the “old-school music industry” to try and get past the “gatekeepers” of labels, studio owners, established songwriters, production teams, etc. — a very positive phenomenon existed back then created by those same gatekeepers who made it hard to get ahead sometimes.

Those gatekeepers, for the most part, had standards. They also, again for the most part, knew their craft. Many of them were experts at music theory, song structure, arranging, lyric writing, production and networking.

Enter the internet and home studios.

No more gatekeepers. This allowed ANYONE to record their songs at home and submit them for licensing. This is AWESOME! Make no mistake about it.

However, an unforeseen consequence occurred. And before I explain what that was, let’s enter an important fact here.

School systems around the country, and in some parts of the world, started cutting back on music education programs for young children and teenagers.

So, two things were cut out of the picture:

1. Gatekeepers and
2. Music Theory Education.

The consequence? Those who create music are not fully trained in their craft and those who held the standards of the industry overall are no longer there, resulting in music supervisors making statements like, “In order to find the 20% of music that is at least worth my time listening to (not necessarily licenseable, but at least worth listening to), I’ve got to wade through the 80% that’s just not ready.”

How to Be Part of the 20%

We’ve now identified the two missing elements that lead to music that is not composed well and/or is not produced well: lack of gatekeepers and lack of music theory education. Now how do you fill in these gaps in order to make music supervisors love your music? Here are two places to start:

1. Find a Mentor
My definition of a student is one who doesn’t know what they don’t know. In order to grow as a musician and to learn what you need to know to improve, a trusted mentor is absolutely key. Ideally, you want to find someone who is already where you want to be and is willing to help you get there. Your mentor should be able to give you feedback so that you can learn and improve, and to fill you in on what you don’t know that you don’t know. Think of them as a friendly stand-in gatekeeper, pointing you towards the tools you need to get your music ready for prime time.

2. Leverage Music Theory (Including Music Theory Ear Training)
From time to time I hear someone arguing that they do not want to learn music theory because it’s going to “put them in a box and make their music sound like everyone else’s and they want to break the rules, they don’t want to learn how to follow rules.”  I’ve got to say that it is with precisely these types of students that I find the most amazing results once they learn music theory. When it comes to music theory, you are talking about the core essence of the subject matter we are dealing with: MUSIC! It would be like trying to become a star mechanic on a racing team and thinking you could achieve success by “figuring it out yourself.” There would not be any trophies handed out in that scenario – though there may be a number of breakdowns and crashes for sure. I have teamed up with a brilliant inventor, Steve Mugglin, who has developed a technology called ChordMaps, and with this technology you can directly produce your music and learn all about theory in the process! It’s the best of both worlds.

Today’s Takeaway:
Music supervisors today are hungry for masterpiece quality music! By finding a trusted mentor and leveraging music theory in your own music, you can greatly increase your chances of making music supervisors love your music.

Learn more about TEAM’s training here.


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