What is the #1 way to increase your music’s “licensability”?

Everybody’s looking for tips to stand out from the pack when it comes to producing music that is targeted at licensing opportunities. But how to accomplish this?

Blogs, social media and industry forums everywhere are full of writers looking for ‘the edge’ or the next piece of gear, or the latest sample library. And now that the marketplace is so saturated with quality production music in nearly every conceivable (and inconceivable) genre, finding that edge has become increasingly critical if you want to survive or thrive in music.

So let’s start off by getting a few things out of the way. Of course, the production value needs to be top-notch. Of course, it needs to be crafted stylistically with sync in mind (ie: gets to the point quickly, has just the right amount of sonic space, has a distinct button ending). Of course, it needs to stay in a stylistic “lane” throughout the piece while still maintaining some musical interest. And even more importantly, of course you need to get it into the hands of the right publisher or library that actually have suitable opportunities for the kind of music you write, and that actively work their catalog.

But perhaps the most important aspect of what makes a track licensable over and over again is one that isn’t even related to your musical chops, your production prowess, or your networking skills. It’s boring, good ol’ metadata!

Think like a music editor!

To understand the importance of metadata, you need to think like an editor for a minute. An editor is the main impediment standing between your track and the airwaves, and by proxy – a handsome and sustainable income. He is the gatekeeper, if you will.

However, unlike a snarly, muscular, imposing, beast-like figure from so many Peter Jackson films, he (or she) really wants to let you through the gate! In fact, they’re even desperate to let the right person in, as it makes them look good to their boss when they do! So this gatekeeper is constantly scanning the crowd in hope that that perfect somebody will appear, every time he takes up position at the gate.

This is the world of an editor.

Therefore, when your tracks are out there in that sea of music seeking passage, you need to do whatever you can to ensure that it even gets noticed, long before you can worry about it being heard. In other words, what will get your track plucked from a long, long list of files in a playlist or folder and actually PLAYED? Again: metadata.

How can you make your tracks stand apart?

Understand that most editors begin their search by visiting their favourite music catalog management program (or website), applying a basic ‘genre’ filter, then doing two things:

#1. Searching for classifications and keywords that match their visual material. Most music search systems allow searching by genres, sub-genres, moods, keywords, instruments, stylistic comparisons (aka: “sounds like”) and even tempos. If your track is missing some or all of these tags, you’ll never appear in these searches, and you’ll never get through the gate! Apply the same care and attention you did to producing your music as you do to describing it. Don’t rush this step!

Think carefully about the emotions it evokes, and be mindful to choose words that aren’t too obscure, while understanding that “happy” isn’t going to separate you from the herd.

Think about the time and place it puts the listener in. Does it feel like a 60’s California beach vibe? Or has it got a wild west, frontier days feel? Include it, but only if the actual musical content warrants it. Resist the temptation to tag your track with keywords that remind YOU of the beach simply because you wrote it there! Listen objectively to make sure what you hear is actually coming through the speakers.

Think about the sub-genres that apply. Again, “rock” is an important umbrella category, but most music editors are big music fans that KNOW their sub-genres and will search them. Sure, it’s rock, but is it “indie folk”, “progressive punk”, or “70’s Glam Rock”? Do the research ahead of time to make sure you’re choosing well worn sub-genre names, and not inadvertently making your own up.


#2. Looking for track titles that “jump off the page” at them. For example, if an editor is comping music for a chase scene featuring a horse and a clown on a unicycle, and your track “Bobo’s Equestrian Pursuit” comes up, how can they NOT take a listen? Obviously, getting this specific is a bit ridiculous, but what about “Can’t Catch Me”? By taking the basic germ of the song and expressing that feeling it is capturing in universal language, you open doors of opportunity for that track before it’s ever been played. Conversely, imagine if that funny, quirky chase vibe you’d captured was instead called “Little Red Apples”? Is that likely to paint a sonic picture in my mind and make me think that YOUR track is worth my 10 seconds, when I have likely two dozen other choices that are drawing me in with their titles? Exactly.


Much like optimizing your website is required to make sure it can be found by Google, taking the time to thoughtfully fill out all the metadata you can, is absolutely vital to ensuring that your track is at least auditioned by editors, music supervisors and other gatekeepers in the industry.

Magnetracks gives you the tools you need to complete all your metadata using industry standard classifications and fields. Plus, Magnetracks automatically “burns in” your metadata right into the actual files you send out to industry contacts. So whether or not your recipient is actually pulling your metadata spreadsheet into their system, you’ll know that the files themselves contain this info when listened to in most audio players and editors.

Visit www.magnetracks.com for more info on how metadata is handled in Magnetracks, and sign yourself up for a free trial.

Good luck!

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