Becoming a player in the world of TV and film isn't easy, but you've got to start somewhere.

A group of managers and executives discussed how to get that first big break during the Master Panel at the Billboard/The Hollywood Reporter Film & TV Music conference, which kicked off today (Nov. 13) at the Sofitel hotel.

"You've got to get your foot in the door and prove you're hungrier than the person next to you," Lionsgate president of music and publishing Jay Faires said, noting that internships and working alongside other established artists is a good place to start. "Pay your dues and come through the ranks."

In that vein, Disney Channel VP of music and soundtracks Steven Vincent worked with many past associates when putting together music for "High School Musical 3: Senior Year." "The song spots for the movie are very specific," he said.

Asked by Billboard editorial director Bill Werde how the sour economy will affect business in 2009, Vincent said: "Everybody's tightening their belts, and music is the last thing to come. If everything got tightened along the way, you get $20,000 less."

Vincent noted, however, that given the current state of album sales declines, many record labels "will give (music) for free just to get it out there, but publishers won't play ball."

On a brighter note, Chop Shop president and music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas said that music placement in TV shows is becoming more and more relevant with network executives.

"Executive producers have invested more in the music culture of the shows and are thinking about that in the budgeting of their shows," she said.

During a Q&A session, an audience member who has written music for TV asked panelists if licensing music to certain shows could potentially hurt an artist's image. Faires replied: "It's about building relationships. Who knows where that music supervisor will be in a few years?"

The conference continues Friday.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

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