|Do your friends say your music sounds like movie music? Do you find yourself hearing radio and TV commercials and saying to yourself: "I could write a better song than that"? If you answered yes to either of those questions, perhaps you have a future in the commercial music industry scoring soundtracks and jingles.
Working from a well-equipped home project studio, you can make decent money, full or part time, composing scores and jingles. The traditional music users like TV/radio advertisers, TV programs, and motion pictures are not the only companies needing original music, though. Corporations make audio-visual presentations for sales, training, and other communications. Local broadcast and cable TV shows offer countless opportunities for jingles and catchy music scores. Computer games and software use music to support their images. And Internet companies need music for themes and underscoring.
I'm assuming you already possess the necessary composition and technical skills to write and record music. So, how do you get started selling your soundtracks and jingles? Follow these four steps.
 Find prospects
There are essentially four places to sell your original music: Advertising agencies, radio and TV stations, production companies, and direct to companies. Ad agencies buy music for the advertisers they represent.
This music is used in radio and TV commercials. Radio and TV stations buy music for their on-air promos, including commercial spots they produce for their advertisers. Production companies include video and multimedia companies that put together audio-visual productions (including games and software). Some corporations buy music for the productions they put together in-house.
You're looking for names, addresses, e-mail, and telephone numbers of producers and directors (and other creative people) at audiovisual, video, and film production companies, cable companies, advertising agencies, and radio/TV stations in your area. If you sell direct to companies, contact the marketing department first. What's the easiest way to get these names? Start with a directory. Most major cities have a directory of creative talent or resource of some kind that lists possible prospects, including their contact information. Once you find possible candidates for your music, call each company and confirm the contact information, including who is responsible for buying music.
 Create a demo
Your demo must be very high quality, showcase your originality, composition skills, versatility at covering many styles, and do all this in less than five minutes! The first track is critical. Put your best music up front, grab attention, and hold it. Consider using a three or four minute music montage of your best work instead of full-length tracks. This way only the best parts of your music are featured. That approach can really make prospects sit up and take notice. Don't just drop your CD in the mail and cross your fingers. Include these three other elements:
-- Cover letter that introduces the benefits of doing business with you. Make sure you focus on what your prospects want (good music that reinforces their message, on time, and on budget) and how you have the credentials to deliver what they need.
-- Basic FAQ that answers the fundamental questions prospects ask about your music services. This document helps you explain how your music composition services work (method, price, rights, and so forth).
-- Testimonials, endorsements, and media reviews of your work. These credentials provide third-party validation that you can do the work.
Don't send out your demo unsolicited. Advertising agencies, video production companies, and their like are assaulted by audio and video demos every day. Most unsolicited demo reels never get the attention they deserve and usually end up in the trash. Plus, your CD alone is never going to close sales for you. It's only one step in an often long, arduous process.
Do this instead: Pick up the phone and call possible prospects. Introduce your services and find out if they have any immediate or long-term need for original music. Offer to send your demo after you've already made contact. Alternately, use other promotions (postcards, sales letters, advertising, and publicity) to get people to request your demo. For example, you could send a news release that offers a free tip sheet such as "How to Get the Best Music for Your Next Production". People will call you to get the free offer and you can send your demo along with the tips.
You must understand that the commercial music world is what I call an R&R business: relationships and reputation. You must work to build relationships with the people who buy music composition services. The creative production world is full of cliques that the ingenue must work to penetrate. Additionally, you must work hard to build a track record of success that you can promote to skeptical buyers. Nobody buys an unproven composer. Earn you dues picking up simple, low-budget projects and then leverage those initial successes into bigger and better things.
 Land a gig
You must follow up all the contacts you make. About one week after you've dropped your material on your prospects, call again and mention your demo. This is the opportunity to discuss future projects with them.
If the prospect has an immediate need, set up a meeting and use that to close the sale. If their need is later, keep contacting them regularly until they are ready to use your services. Once you land a gig, and complete it satisfactorily, ask for additional assignments from the same client. Also, let other prospects know of your recent accomplishment and that they, too, can get the music they need by calling you right away.
Follow this basic process and you will, slowly and steadily, build your soundtrack scoring and jingle business to the level of success you desire.
Jeffrey P. Fisher is the author of three best-selling music books: "Ruthless Self-Promotion in the Music Industry,"
"Profiting From Your Music and Sound Project Studio," and "How to Make Money Scoring Soundtracks and Jingles." He is currently working on a fourth title due out during 2002. Get more information on his "Moneymaking Music" Web site at www.jeffreypfisher.com
For even more profitable music industry advice, subscribe to Fisher's FREE Moneymaking Music Tip of the Week by sending an e-mail message to firstname.lastname@example.org with "subscribe tip" in the subject or body.
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