Industry News

Crucial Music review: How NBC got ahold of my song

One of my songs landed on NBC. And it was thanks to Crucial Music. 

So I thought I’d share my experience.

To be clear…

This blog post has no secrets, no guarantees, and no “special formula” for getting your songs placed.

(And if anyone promises you those things, be very suspicious).

This Crucial Music review is just my experience with this one sync licensing company. 

I tell my story in hopes it will give you insight into the sync licensing industry and encourage you to keep making and submitting music.

My Experience With Crucial Music

In 2017, I submitted my first two songs to Crucial Music. 

And in 2021, I got an email…

My song “No Man’s Land” was on NBC’s Chicago Fire

Yeah, it was buried in the background. And it was just about 10-15 seconds short. 

But that’s a big win for me.

The payout was fair. It’s a nice placement to add to my portfolio. 

And (most importantly), it was extremely encouraging. 

I’ve been working toward this for years. And this was a sign that I’ve been doing something right.

And those first two songs from 2017? They were both rejected. 

In 2018, I submitted four more songs

Nine songs in 2019 (this was the year I doubled down on my game plan, which focused on sync licensing).

And 10 songs in 2020.

That’s a total of 25 songs I’ve submitted that have been rejected or accepted (as of this writing).

Thirteen of those songs made it into Crucial’s library. 

That’s almost exactly a 50% approval/rejection rate. 

I’m not saying that’s good or bad, I’m just presenting you with the numbers.

Along the way, the people at Crucial have been very professional, easy to work with, and we do everything electronically (including contracts). 

Because of my 10-out-of-10 experience, I plan to submit all of my new music to Crucial.

Plus, the submission process was a breeze…

The Submission Process

To submit a track to Crucial, there’s a “Submit a song” link on your account dashboard.

It takes about 12 weeks for them to review your submission.

Some of the things they’ll ask you include:

  • Whether the song contains samples/interpolations from other artists’ songs or a buyout package
  • Whether you worked with union musicians
  • If it’s a cover song
  • If it has explicit lyrics (they provide a list of words they consider explicit)
  • The BPM and tempo
  • The era, orchestration, genre, and subgenres of the song
  • The moods and lyrical themes
  • What other artists it sounds like
  • A song description and the lyrics
  • Track versions (main, instrumental, reduced, and clean)

Pay attention to that last bullet point. 

Every time you master a song, you must also master an instrumental version if you want any chance in sync licensing.

And to really have your shiz together, mix and master alternate versions, like 30- and 60-second versions.

Crucial doesn’t require this, but there is an option to submit a reduced-length version. I’ve done this with another music licensing company, and I imagine it could increase your chances of landing a placement.

(Basically, if your song were only 30 or 60 seconds long, what would it sound like? Try to capture the dynamics of the whole track [quiet moments, risers, beginning/ending] in the shorter versions).

So what type of songs is Crucial Music looking for?

Well, the music I’ve submitted varies in genres and moods. I have some more ambient folk songs as well as pop-influenced singer-songwriter stuff. 

And it doesn’t seem like Crucial prefers any genre or mood over others. 

They’re more likely to accept a song if they don’t have many other songs like it already in their library. 

They’re looking for songs that can fill in the gaps of what they need.

For example, the most recent songs I’ve been submitting are ambient folk with orchestral undertones, and they’ve accepted most of those.

But my song that got on NBC is pop-influenced, featuring big drums (a drum machine) and electric guitar.

Regardless of genre or mood, the track must be at a pro-level quality.

You have to engineer, perform, and produce the song well.

The mix has to be great.

It has to be mastered. 

It has to sound like a song you’d hear on the radio or a top Spotify playlist. 

Crucial Music Pitches My Music

One feature of my Crucial account is Pitch Activity. I love this feature so much.

They show me what songs the sales team has proactively pitched to clients.

It’s not a comprehensive list of songs that clients may want to use because it doesn’t account for clients’ activity on their site.

But it gives me an idea of what songs are more desirable in the sync licensing world, according to the Crucial sales team.

This is one of the main reasons I like working with Crucial Music.

They’re pitching my music rather than letting it sit in a library with thousands of other songs (which seems to be the case with Music Vine). 

I don’t know any details beyond what’s on the Pitch Activity page. So I don’t know what these projects are unless the title gives me a clue. 

But it’s super cool they’re pitching my music and also showing me where they’ve pitched it.

Final Thoughts To Encourage You

Let me end this Crucial Music review with some encouraging words…

About half the songs I’ve submitted to Crucial Music, they rejected. 

This doesn’t mean the rejected songs are bad. They just weren’t what Crucial needed. 

So keep making music. Keep submitting.

The NBC placement happened four years after I submitted my first tracks to Crucial Music.

And that song? I submitted it two years before they placed it.

Sometimes, things in the sync licensing world take a while.

So keep making music. Keep submitting.

Crucial Music doesn’t seem to prefer any specific genre or mood. This seems to be the case with any sync licensing company. 

As music supervisor Morgan Rhodes says, “Music supervisors are more interested in how you sound than what you say.”

She says supervisors love discovering underground, indie artists with a unique sound.

So keep making music. Keep submitting.

Most importantly, make music that resonates with you. 

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Caleb J. Murphy is a songwriter/producer based in Austin, Tx., and the founder of Musician With A Day Job, a blog that helps part-time musicians succeed. 

His weekly email called 5 Things To Help You Keep Going helps part-time musicians stay encouraged and motivated by sharing 5 resources from all over the internet. Join the 1,000+ other musicians benefitting from it.



Intelligence delivered from Rich Finney
Original article from Music Think Tank (primary) RSS updated 5/5/2021


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