How To License Your Music
There are literally thousands of different opportunities for places to submit your music for potential placements. Let's look at a couple different approaches you can take:
1) The direct route:
One way to get started in this business is to directly contact music supervisors who place music in TV shows and Films. Music Supervisors make their living by selecting the music that is used in the productions they are involved in. They are ultimately the people who make the decision as to what music is used. The upside of this approach is that when you operate this way you are essentially acting as your own publisher and you will receive both a writer's and publisher's royalty if your music gets used. The downside is that you probably don't have any relationships established with music supervisors and although it's certainly possible to establish relationships and "break in" this way, it's going to take a lot of leg work!
2) The indirect route:
This is the way I got started and I suggest you try this approach first. In addition to music supervisors there are also music publishers whose job it is to screen music and present music to music supervisors for potential placement. These people typically have established relationships (if they're established publishers) and they make their living by "shopping" music to supervisors. They typically work hand in hand with supervisors and help them find the right type of music for their project. For example, let's say a music supervisor is working on a film and they need a song that sounds something like the latest White Stripes song. Since they can't actually afford to license the latest White Stripes song they will then contact a publisher, or several publishers, and put the word out that they are looking for songs in the vein of The White Stripes. These publishers will then scour their catalogs looking for songs that are a match and they'll present these songs to the supervisor.
The downside of working with a publisher is that they typically receive half of all royalties generated. This is what's called a publisher's royalty, and it's how publishers make their living. Publishers typically also split licensing fees with writers, which is a one time fee paid for the use of whatever song is being used. Although you end up making less money when you place your music via a music publisher, it愀 a fair trade off in my opinion. Established publishers have many relationships that they have cultivated, in many cases, over many years with supervisors working in the music licensing industry. Working with an established publisher can make getting your music licensed much, much easier. And of course publishers need to get paid as well. Fair enough.
Good luck And Happy Songwriting!