The Journey of a Song in Advertising: How to Get Your Music on Commercials

Published October 27, 2022

Although the internet has vastly widened the advertising landscape, many big brands still rely heavily on broadcast TV commercials. The majority of TV shows feature highly competitive music spots. As such, it can be challenging to get your music on such commercials. Below is a look at the process involved in selecting a song for a commercial and tips to increase your chances of your music track being selected.

The Journey of a Song in Advertising

The TV and film industries are laden with gatekeepers who determine which type of music and whose music to use in commercials, feature films, and other types of productions. The music selection process is also similar for the video game and trailer industries.

In any project, the music supervisor or creative director is often tasked with finding suitable music. It could be sound effects, custom music, popular songs from different genres such as hip hop, pop music, country, etc., or instrumental versions of the songs. Seeing as music is core to the project, the choice has to be perfect, otherwise, the entire project may fall flat.

At any point, the music supervisors are presented with hundreds of options to choose from, including music samples from an independent musician pool, agencies, music publishers, a music licensing company, and labels, among others. They may also receive suggestions from senior members of the production or editing team.

They spend a lot of time listening to the various options presented to them. They may also work with third-party music licensors to help them narrow down their search to a few options to ensure quality control.

The few remaining options are scrutinized by various members of the team to establish the final pick. It is tested and incorporated into the project accordingly. The music supervisor also has to vet the selections to make sure they would be able to clear the budget and terms the brand or client would need, so it is a multilayered process.

Tips for Increasing Your Chances of Getting Your Music on a Commercial

Gaining music spots on commercials is a highly competitive undertaking and understandably so. The exact payment to the singer-songwriter or publisher varies depending on various factors, but on average it ranges between five to six figures plus backend royalties for every spot that the commercial plays.

Getting your music on a commercial is not only a boost to your income but also sets you up for success in your music career and can give your music massive exposure. A good tip is to partner with a 3rd party licensing company that already has numerous connections to help represent and pitch your material. Below are six tips to help you get your music on a commercial:

1. Produce High-Quality Music

This may seem obvious, but you need to pay attention to the quality of your music. Remember what you may deem quality, may not be considered of high quality by creative directors and music supervisors.

It is important that you invest in professional-level composing, mastering, and mixing to ensure that you are creating music that is on par with commercial production standards. This way, if your music gets discovered or short-listed, you have a better chance of getting to the final selection stages.

Also, your instrumental version of the given song or track should be of high quality. While some projects require an actual song, others require the instrumental. Therefore, if you qualify for sync licensing, the instruments should be able to carry the scene.

Ultimately, the song should have dynamic productions. It should enable the creative director and editor to make cuts without compromising the quality of the music. The instrumentals should provide an elaborate soundscape that builds, drops, and picks up momentum as need be. Of course the creative needs of any given commercial will vary.

2. Determine If Your Song is Good for a Particular Project

Before you submit your music to a creative director or music supervisor, you must understand the type of project you are pitching for. Is it a TV commercial, film, or ad? What vibe are they looking for? Are there specifics on the production dynamics or lyrics? If you partner with a licensing company to represent your music, they can usually help steer you.

You should do thorough research before you send in your music, otherwise, you will be spinning your wheels. If you get a heads up about the project in good time, you can create new music specifically for that project and customize it to suit the requirements.

Platforms such as and tunefind are great places to start your research. They have a catalog of various commercials for different brands. You can also search for ad playlists on YouTube. Take some time to study the commercials and the type of music used for the different brands. As for TV shows, check the music used on each episode, season by season.

3. Network Extensively

Like in most industries, your network plays a huge role in your ability to access opportunities. It is important that you continuously make connections with various industry players. Network with music supervisors and creative directors as well as other stakeholders.

The wider your network, the higher the chances of being referred or headhunted for a commercial. It also gives you access to the key decision-makers enabling you to bypass gatekeepers for you to pitch your music for a commercial, TV show, or film.

4. License Your Music

Another strategy to get in front of the right people is to partner with an established licensing company as they come with a built-in network of clients. Score a Score is one of the top music dealers for TV commercials

5. Build a Strong Digital Presence

Aside from the quality of your music and its compatibility with a given project, the size of your existing audience can determine whether your music is selected for a commercial.

Some music supervisors are keen to work with a musician who already has a large following, as it enables them to tap into it for their project. Besides, marketers, scouts, and other music industry leaders search various online platforms to identify musicians to work with. You can build your audience in a variety of ways, including;

  • Music streaming platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora

  • Social media outlets like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and YouTube

  • Creating a website with your profile and music samples

6. Create an Elaborate Press Kit for Your Music

Sending a prospective client a link to your music on YouTube, Spotify, or SoundCloud may not be enough to make a good first impression. Packaging yourself with a press kit will help you stand out and come across as professional and serious about your work. It also provides the client with all the essential information they should know about you preventing unnecessary back and forth.

The press kit should contain information about your music license history, style of music, music samples, biography, relevant promotional photos, and contact details. It should also have links to your social media pages and music library on streaming sites.

If you have press clips, such as media interviews, live performances, or videos of engagement with fans, provide relevant links. They help to establish your legitimacy. You can host your press kit on your website or a resume/portfolio website.

That's a Wrap!

There is no doubt that earning music spots in commercials is highly competitive. You need to produce high-quality music that will be compatible with target brands or films. Take measures to get in front of the decision-makers either through networking, license partners, and/or having a strong social media presence. Finally, ensure you have a press kit ready to submit when pitching.