Back in January of 2009, Crucial Music started accepting my Water Bear trio and quartet recordings for pitching to TV & film placements. It took 4 years before my pieces were placed anywhere, but in the years since, these wonderful performances have appeared in TV shows like Touch (Fox), Agents Of Shield (ABC), streaming shows like Mozart in the Jungle (Amazon), cable TV (The Magicians on SyFy), and an indie film (In Search of Fellini).
It's sporadic, but not only do I receive the initial placement fee (I’ve received anywhere from $75 to $2000), but also royalties ongoing from ASCAP domestically and internationally. These royalties often surpass the initial placement fee amount but take far longer to trickle down to me after the shows air.
Recently I’ve been on a kick to supply Crucial Music with fresh material — they haven’t placed any of my pieces since 2019, and I suspect there’s been lots of changes in their business model. There seems to be so much music created by synthesized performances that sound almost as good as real instruments, show runners being able to hire composers more easily, and perhaps changes in perception around using music without permission is fine. All of this leads to Crucial Music needing to re-define how they operate. Probably fees have gotten lower, the value of what I’ve been able to supply them with has diminished.
And I’ve also noticed that shorter pieces are more suitable now, as if everyone’s attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, and there is no point to a piece longer than about 1-2 minutes, because the uses for that music are going to be much shorter. And Crucial Music has accepted pieces from me that are 15-30 seconds!
So I’ve been going back over my catalog (as we like to call it in the business!) and re-listening to pieces that are close to 1 minute long to get my next batch of submissions ready. Crucial Music only accepts 3 pieces at a time, and since they’ve had to trim down personnel, the process which used to take only a couple of weeks has now stretched out to 4 months or more.
Over this weekend I’ve selected three pieces, and now I’ll get them ready for submission. Mostly I need to get in the mood for describing them attractively, putting into words the qualities each has so that they will be findable on the database that Crucial Music maintains for anyone looking to license tracks. I try to be objective in picking the keywords, but does anyone else hear what I hear in my own compositions? I can get into a crisis of a lack of confidence, that is what I need to overcome in order to proceed! Wish me luck!