Before You Hire Someone To Pitch Your Music To Film Or TV…

Adonis Tsllimparis talks about what you should know before you hire a company or individual to pitch your music to film and TV.


Adonis Tsilimparis is a born and raised New York City composer. He began studying guitar and piano at age 11. After graduating from College, he played in several pop and rock bands as a lead guitarist and singer. In the mid 1990′s he became a staff writer at commercial jingle house called Fearless Music, where he wrote and performed countless commercial ads.Many of his compositions could be heard in advertisements for Burger King, AT&T, Sprite and Pepsi. He continued to write at Fearless for several years before expanding to compose music for other film and TV Projects. He has composed music for TV’s ‘Guiding Light’, ‘All My Children’, ‘CSI:NY’, ‘NCIS’, and numerous reality shows on the E Network, and A&E Network. He has also written music for cable shows and several indie films. His recent film credits include “Naked As We Came” and “Wife Missing”.

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Welcome to another country spam and rip off warning videos. Our topic is before you hire someone to pitch your music to film and TV. Our guest is Adonis Tsllimparis.

Hi everyone. My name is Adonis. I am a music supervisor. I work in Sync Licensing. I’m also a composer. I have a long history in this industry. Started out playing in bands as a guitar player. Then I moved into scoring. Since then I’ve done more sync licensing. And lately I’ve been focusing more on music supervision. I’ve worked on a bunch of shows.

Right now, I’m doing some freelance work with a label called National Records, where we place music into films, shows, and video games. And I work as a music supervisor and a freelancer on the side as well.

What’s the first thing people should know about hiring a singer service?

OK, any time someone asks you to pay money, don’t. You should not. There are a couple of services out there that say, well, $5, you know, will cover some of our costs. You can get maybe one or two placements there, but we really like to discourage that. You shouldn’t have to be paying. There’s no need for that because these budgets for films and shows are big.

If they like your song, you will get paid. You don’t have to. And they will get paid because they get a cut. So there’s no reason for them to be charging you. So please don’t do that. And any time, even if it’s a dollar, just don’t do it.

I am aware of some supervisors who charge because they don’t get paid by the production.

Yes. And, you know, as I said, you can get a placement if you pay a little something. It’s possible. I just don’t like it.

You’re an independent supervisor and you work on contract. Is that correct?

Exactly, yes. And there’s no need for them to be charging you $5 or something or a hundred bucks because as I said, if the song is placed, the artist will make money and so will I. So I think it’s taking advantage of the artists by asking them for what, 100 bucks or something. It’s like will $100 really, really make a difference? No, it won’t. There’s no reason to do that. So I know that some of them do things that I don’t like.

Some services ask for part of your publishing. Is that legitimate?

Yeah, that’s a separate thing because sometimes they will ask for some, you know, of your publishing or they’ll just ask for like a percentage of the fee. So those are OK. I know every deal is different. As long as they don’t touch the master, they should not take any of the master. If they want to take some of your publishing. OK, you’ll want to take some of the fee. Just no upfront money.

Let’s just clarify that. We’re talking about a sync licensing person or company offering to shop your music to music supervisors. Not the music supervisors themselves.

So a music supervisor, he’s not really shopping, the music supervisor just takes all the songs which have been sent in and then they present it to the producer or the filmmaker. So the music supervisor is later on down the sink licensing person is more of the scout that finds the songs. They make the deal, you know, the supervisors later.

So, yeah. And then as I said, sometimes they will ask for a percentage of your publishing, which is fine. That’s OK. It shouldn’t be all of it, you know, it should be maybe half, maybe one quarter and then if they want to take some of the fee, that’s fine too, because those fees can range. It depends. If it’s a show, it’s a film, television it could range from 500 to 5000. We don’t know or more, you know.

What’s at risk if you get involved with a less than reputable company?

The risk can be huge. They can steal all your money. They could take some of your master, they could take all your publishing, you know, you need to be very, very careful. Make sure that you read any contract that they send. You read it very carefully, have someone look at it. You know, anybody in the industry, have them take a look at it.

There are some templates online, like standard ones. As long as they don’t take any of your master and they don’t ask you for money up front, I think you should be OK.

Should an artist stipulate in her contract where they do not want their music to be placed?

Absolutely. If you have an issue with something, you don’t want to sell out certain advertisements that you know advocate for gun rights or something, whatever your issue is, you can add that. And I’m sure most think licensing guys will be like, sure, you know, that’s not a problem, you know, because even if you don’t stipulate that if an advertisement comes along that they will ask you, look, here’s an ad for this. Are you OK with this? So they’ll ask that anyway. But if you want to put it in there, sure. It doesn’t matter.

What are some red flags that you may not be dealing with someone reputable?

Well, I mean, you know, a lot of people are going to be talking about a good game. Whoever you’re talking to is saying that make sure you look at their back history, find out who they are, look up their website or their LinkedIn or their IMDB. Make sure they are legit so if they’re not, that’s a red flag.

If you don’t see their name anywhere and you’ve never heard of them and you can’t find them on LinkedIn, there’s something funny going on. They should have a history. You should be able to find them on LinkedIn or IMDB, especially nowadays in this age of social media, it must have been harder back in the old days, as you and I remember, it was very hard because we didn’t have social media back then.

We didn’t have the Internet, so we had to make a lot of phone calls and OK, who is this guy now? It’s so easy. You just type in somebody’s name. So yeah, that’s the most important one.

Is there pressure to red flags?

No, you shouldn’t feel pressured at all. You shouldn’t be pressured into it. You shouldn’t be hounded into it. Nothing of that sort, there’s plenty of music out there. If someone is pressuring you so badly for one song, there’s got to be a special reason for it. It’s got to be the most amazing song or something that’s so perfect. For this scene and this movie that he may hound you a little bit like, Oh, this song would be perfect because of the lyrics.

The title fits that thing, you know? But he shouldn’t be pressuring you. I mean, you know, if an artist says no, an artist says no. You know.

What if they say they need to be a co-producer or co-writer?

No, yeah. That comes back to what I said earlier about stealing your master. Should not the master go to the artist entirely. Should never say to anyone who says, Oh, I want to be a co writer. I want to take a percentage of your masters. No, just run away immediately. Yeah.

If they’re offering guarantees. Is that a red flag?

A guarantee is a red flag. There are no guarantees. I can say that there’s a very good possibility. If you want to throw in an 80% number, that’s fine. If you want to say 80%. Yeah, but there are no guarantees. You never know because remember, I’m going to send this to the music supervisor, even if I’m the music supervisor on it.

I don’t have the final say. The music supervisors don’t have the final say. They are just presenting to the producers. They have the final say.

When you sign a great song, what do you need from the artist?

One thing I tell every artist is when you record a song, make sure you have an instrumental version of it, an instrumental mix, make sure you have stems meaning guitar only, drums only, bass only vocal only. If you have all those elements, you will increase your chances of placement because a lot of times they will use the song without your vocals and they just want to have the instrumental end and you’ll still make money even though you’re not singing on it, you’ll still make money.

You might even make more because they use instrumentals, get placed more because it’s background and they don’t want it to be interfering with the dialog of the scene. So make sure you have an instrumental mix and make sure you have stems. Very, very important.

If the same person or company doesn’t ask for these, is that a red flag?

No, it’s not a red flag. A lot of times they’ll just say, Just hand me the song for now, because they assume that if the song doesn’t get chosen, then they don’t have to deal with all these extra files. If it gets chosen and then they’re going further into it, then they’ll call back and say, Hey, have you got instrumental of this so a lot of times, you know, they don’t need it immediately because they got to give it to the producer and then the producer has to give it to the editor to lock it on to picture to make sure it works.

And then they’ll be like, You know what? Maybe this song isn’t really now. And then they’ll go back and forth and then, yeah, that’s how it works.

Are there other ways to pitch your music?

Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. There’s, you know, like music libraries are big too, you know, you know, a lot of a lot of music libraries go have straight relationships with the supervisors, you know? So, yeah, all those are good.

So to be safe, what should artists do?

Research, everybody who’s involved, you know.

Is there a common way to check references?

I mean, you know, that’s like, LinkedIn is great because LinkedIn, you know, on most of the people’s profiles they have, you know, on the bottom, you know, other people whom they know. You can ask for a, you know, actual reference on LinkedIn. That’s what makes that site really amazing. Yeah.

And lastly, can an artist reach out directly to a music supervisor?

Yes. You don’t want to reach out to music supervisors directly. And here’s why. A music supervisor is not interested in hearing your music, not because they don’t like you or they don’t like it. They’re only interested in the project that they are working on right now. Like if I’m a music supervisor for a film, I don’t need to hear hip hop stuff when all I need is orchestral stuff.

For this movie. So I don’t know, it’s best not to do that. It’s best to pitch to a sink agent or to a music library that’s better.

That concludes our video title before you hire someone to shop your songs to film and TV. We want to thank Adonis Tsllimparis for sharing his in-depth knowledge and expertise.

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