The lights went down. Sweat started dripping down my face. I looked up at my friend in the back of the room who gave me a thumbs up. It was time.
The square pad on my sampler looked 10x smaller than I remembered. I carefully pressed down on the pad and my first song started blaring from the PA speakers in the venue.
This was my first show and my first time playing out live. I’d been practicing for months and had developed a unique set. I had visuals for every track and played some instrument or sampler live for each song.
The crowd of 50 or so people cheered as I wrapped up and stepped off stage. Despite a few timing issues everything went great! I took a deep breath and started making my rounds to catch up with friends and family.
“HEY!” I heard an unfamiliar voice say behind me. A hand tapped me on the shoulder and I turned around slowly. “Dude that was awesome!” a man said to me. I thanked him and proceeded to engage in a few minutes of small talk.
I learned that he had heard my music from the street and come in to check out what was going on. Not only that, but he happened to be a music supervisor for one of the biggest supervision companies in the United States. Lucky me.
I made sure to get his email before we parted ways.
A few days later I sent an email thanking him for stopping by. I also included a streaming link to my music and specific information about my strengths.
By sending my email soon after we met I did two things:
- Kept my name and music top of mind since he had just experienced my show
- Showed I was serious and professional with good email etiquette and respect for his inbox (streaming link)
He responded in a day or two and put me in touch with another supervisor that asked me for instrumentals. I put together separate folders of about 10 instrumentals each, based on genre and sent it over via my company box folder.
Long story short, in a few weeks I had signed over multiple instrumental cues and heard my music was going to be on a few MTV shows. A few weeks after that, I learned my music was going to be in multiple episodes of KUWTK!
Even though royalty payments are delayed up to 1 year, here’s a statement of proof 1 year after my music was signed:
I realize it sounds like I just got lucky, but let me explain why there’s more to the story. In fact, there are many takeaways that are worth mentioning.
How do you get your music on TV shows too?
#1 Have good music
The only reason I even got a conversation with him in the first place was because my music caught his ear (from the street noless). Music has been something I’ve spent literal years of my life on and this moment in time was a culmination of thousands of hours of practicing my craft.
In an alternate universe he kept walking past the venue because my music wasn’t good.Clear takeaway – perfect your own style of music and make sure it is as sonically appealing as possible.
#2 Be prepared for the opportunity
You have no control over external circumstances. Let me repeat that… you have no control over external circumstances. I wasn’t waiting around for a supervisor to come knock on my door and I surely wasn’t sitting at home hoping I would get an email from someone who could change my life.
I have systems and processes that keep me prepared for opportunities when they come my way. I knew immediately what to say and what to send in my first email. I had the music ready to go and in the format most preferred by supervisors because I had done my research.
Even the fact that he didn’t have to explain the company he worked for was me being prepared. I knew the name and knew what they did right when he said it.
I knew supervisors are on tight deadlines so I made sure to mention my flexibility right away in my first email. I understand that time is money so I separated all of my tracks into folders based on genre even though I wasn’t asked to do so.
Once my music was synced, the supervisor mentioned how professional and easy I was to work with which means he’ll keep coming back to me (and has).Clear takeaway – do your homework and focus on the details that matter to make other people’s lives easier.
#3 Do things that are uncomfortable
I’m an introvert and not someone who seeks attention. Going up on stage in front of a crowd to perform music live is something that was intimidating to think about at first. That’s a lot of pressure for someone used to being in the studio behind the scenes.
And that’s exactly why I decided to do it. Friction = growth so I pushed myself to put together a killer show and perform it live. Not only that, but I learned 2 completely new software programs, practiced for over 100 hours, and fine tuned each individual song’s performance in the process.
I went all in head first into the uncomfortable unknown. I didn’t have to do that. But when you try new things, especially things you aren’t used to, you never know what will come from it.Clear takeaway – if something makes you nervous or anxious to think about doing, it’s probably something to run towards not away from.
I’ve gone on to earn decent money from my work with his company and am thankful that he happened to be walking by that night. There are certainly many factors at play when you’re trying to get your music on TV shows including luck. But by working on the things you can control and being prepared, you’ll have peace of mind that when opportunities do come, you’ll be ready to maximize them.