One of the best strategies you can use to get your music into TV & film is record a cover song. You might be wondering why would you give up the royalties and publishing sync fee instead of just doing your own song?
Recently, we helped an indie artist get a healthy five-figure sync license for a cover of Daniel Johnston’s song, “True Love Will Find You In The End”, on the season finale of the TV show, Saving Hope. She took a quirky song and turned it into a haunting striped down version with piano instead of guitar. The essence of the song was still there but she made it her own. The episode just aired and you can go have a listen to a clip of the version on Tunefind here and then listen to the original here and hear how Elizabeth really made the song her own.
Here are the pros of covering another artist’s song for licensing:
1) The audience already knows the song so there’s instant listener recognition. The music supervisors know this, so if they hear an interesting version of a well-known song it gets their attention too. The trick here is you really want to do it your way. You want it to sound different and be a great segue into your original music.
2) You don’t make as much money as you would with your own song (ie. you only get the master side of the sync fee and no backend royalties), but this is a great way to get your foot in the door and introduce the industry to your original music.
3) Often times, known songs are too expensive to license in a TV show or film, so music supervisors look for cover songs to replace in the scene so they stay in budget. For example, if they want to use a Rolling Stones song, the master & publishing side would be really expensive (we know because a friend of ours handles their catalog) but a cover of the song, wouldn’t cost as much on the master side if it was recorded by an indie artist. Plus it might give the song a fresh new life if it’s produced differently than how the Stones did it.
If you have a favorite song by some other artist, think of how you might perform and record it. Take advantage of some of these perks of doing a cover for your next sync placement in TV & film.