ASCAP Expo: Music Supervision in the Digital Age

Take advantage of YouTube, Soundcloud and blogs. That’s been the recurring theme all week at the ASCAP Expo in Hollywood and Friday morning’s “Music Supervision in the Digital Age” panel was no exception, with a few more specifics on offer, too, including the importance of Multi Channel Networks and the necessity of specific targets. 

“It’s not just about having a great song,” proclaimed Carrie Hughes, owner of Reflections Music and an experienced supervisor who has placed multiple tracks on MTV and Fox. “It’s about having a story.”

KCRW host and Elias Arts music supervisor Jason Kramer cited Malaysian singer Yuna as strong example of how it’s done in the new age, versus the antiquated era. Yuna parlayed her success on MySpace into a record deal. “She’s a self-promoter. She has over 800,000 Twitter followers. She was with Fader Records, now she’s with Verge Music Group. Kramer recognized street performer Charles Rangel in the audience and noted him as another example.

“This is a guy who goes out there in Santa Monica, in Vegas, he goes out there and hustles his ass,” he said. “I saw him on KTLA, who had seen a video he had on YouTube. This is the new medium. This is the new thing that’s happening. It’s not about the antiquated way of giving us a CD or emailing. This is the new way.”

The panel was presented by the Guild of Music Supervisors and put Hughes and Kramer alongside JT Griffith, music & creative licensing manager – Nike; Jason Cienkus, music supervisor – DanceOn; Nick Guarino, director, Film & TV Music – Universal Music Enterprises and Guild president/moderator Maureen Crowe.  The panelists all extolled the virtues of Multi Channel Networks, or MCNs, like Maker Studio, FullScreen, Giant, Big Frame, Alloy Digital and Cienkus’ DanceOn.

The best way to get music in front of music supervisor is to be patient, to be honest and to be specific, they said. “I saw an article people had shared on Twitter because the headline was something like, ‘how to pitch your music and make a living doing it,’” offered Griffith. “The lesson was do your homework, talk to the right people.”

“Try and find out what agencies or what TV shows are using the type of music [you are doing],” Cienkus advised. “The more specific you are, the better.”

Guarino noted the sheer amount of places in need of content. “If your song works for a hotel? Call a local boutique hotel in your town. See if they want to use it in a video.”

“Don’t wait for somebody to make it happen for you,” said Crowe. “Make it happen.”

Hughes suggested IMDBPro as a great resource for figuring out which producers and supervisors are working on what. Cienkus was enthusiastic about VidStatsX. “It’s like the Billboard charts for YouTube channels. If you think your music is going to be good for fishing, you can find YouTube channels about fishing and contact them.”

Overall, as said by multiple panelists at the ASCAP Expo this week, persistence is key when it come to getting attention, from a music supervisor, or from anyone. “Be as bold as you can without crossing the line to being a stalker,” said Griffith. “Be succinct, be passionate, be honest.”

“Be friendly, be nice, be real,” insisted Kramer. “When I first got into music, I worked with the band Sublime. I wrote them letter after letter, before the Internet, and I called. After about the fifth letter, they said, ‘Come on down.’”