Industry news & advice blog

Advice about getting your music featured on TV & film from the experts at Off The Record

Last week we attended Off The Record music industry conference in Manchester and spent time soaking up some of the advice and tips being discussed on the various panels. One we thought our emerging musician readers would find particularly useful was the ‘Music In TV’ panel which featured industry experts from Sky TV, BBC, Sentric Music and Molecular Sound discussing how music is selected and placed. Read on for a summary of the main points we picked up from the experts… 

Getting your music synced to TV, film or games can be an excellent way to earn some money and gain exposure to a large audience. Peter Bradbury of Sky TV was keen to point out they use 0.5 million hours of music each year on the Sky network. A vast statistic, also backed up by Nicky Bignell of BBC, who explained that 250,000 pieces of music are used across BBC programming each week. In short, this means that a great deal of opportunities exist for your music to be placed on TV.

There are 3 types of music that may be utilised for placing in film or TV:

Commission – A specific broadcaster/filmmaker asks an artist or composer to create a piece of music specifically 

Library – Online catalogues of various styles of music that can be bought for use for TV & film

Standard – Music that we listen to day to day, not written specifically for TV but licensed for that purpose


Who makes the call on the music used varies depending on the TV network/show. For some programmes, the producer will select the music for their shows – this is largely common practice within the BBC. Other shows may employ a music supervisor to create the right soundtrack for a programme or series, which may entail use of standard music or commissioned music, or a combination of both. 

Producers and music supervisors will firstly consider music they feel is suitable for the show, based on the style, mood and energy of particular scenes. Their next consideration will be the rights required to use the music – this can depend on and be restricted by factors such as whether the programme will be released onto DVD, broadcast overseas and so on. This is where clearance of the music in question is necessary.


Music publishers and sync agencies work to place the music of artists they represent onto TV, film, adverts and games, and will ensure all music is correctly registered with organisations such as PRS For Music and PPL to ensure it can be cleared for use, and that royalties will be collected for the track placement.

For emerging and unsigned artists and bands without a publishing deal, companies such as Sentric Music are a great port of call to get your music onto TV. They will ensure your tracks are registered correctly and then send suitable tracks onto broadcasters such as Sky, Channel 4, BBC and so on. Alternatively, they give you the opportunity to answer ‘sync briefs’ from broadcasters yourself and respond with suitable tracks that you think will fit the bill for a show’s requirements. They also have a catalogue of pre-approved music which broadcasters can browse themselves to search for appropriate tracks. Read more about Sentric’s services here.


If you fancy making a career out of composing commissioned music for TV and film, then there are many production companies where you can seek work experience. Panellist David Connolly of music production company, Molecular Sound, stressed how rewarding but competitive this area of the industry can be. Essential requirements needed are the ability to work to tight deadlines and the capability to compose original music to a brief, summing up the mood and feeling of what the broadcaster wants the music to convey.


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