Singer, Songwriter slash Mom
Just how do you get a song on TV?
1st Jul 2011 Posted in: Blog 3

Getting a song on TV is called “synch.”

For the uninitiated, “synch” is what you call it when music is synchronized with a visual image – as in a commercial, a movie or a TV show. My first experience with this was when my song “Beautiful Tree” was picked as the theme song for the CW show Life Unexpected.

(Actually, my first experience was when my song “Yosemite” was licensed for a rheumatology  nurses’ education video. But you probably didn’t see that.)

Once upon a time, synch was the biggest sellout, and in my naive youth I dissed many artists for licensing their songs to commercials. But that was when the way to obtain a new album was to pay for it. Nowadays, it’s very respectable and everyone knows it’s the only way to get the money to make the next record.

Synch is desirable, then, because it’s one of the few ways to actually still get paid. And it’s also awesome because it’s passive, meaning that if you place a song somewhere it can make money without you being present.

I go to at least one music conference a year, like South by Southwest and Folk Alliance, and as a result of religiously attending and asking questions at many panel discussions and following up afterwards, I now have agents who promote my songs for synch placements. These placements take two forms. The first is if someone wants to license a recorded track from one of my albums. The second is when I get word of an opportunity to record a song on spec.

These opportunities read something like this. (Actually they read exactly like this, as I’ve copied and pasted a real request but redacted it.)

“1. Main Title Song!  Something fun, feel good, upbeat to kick off the movie – rock or alt/indie rock.
** unreleased, new or releasing in summer 2011

2. End Title Song – Something anthemic / triumphant / bright in an indie-rock / alt-rock kinda way.  big track, nothing too thin production-wise
** could be lyrics about life or love”

Then I decide if I think I can pull it off and if so I email a couple of people I work with to see if they have time to work for free with the possibility of getting paid someday. Then I either choose a song to cover (if that’s appropriate) or write something, and we record really quickly, send the song off and…then we wait for a week to three months! Yay!

So the song I recorded day before yesterday was a cover song, which I love to do. Earlier this year I wrote a song for the movie version of a book, which was a very interesting writing assignment. I’ll hear back about both of them later this summer, and I will either post my unbridled excitement or my disheartened frustration on this blog.

About the blog: okay, so I did all that work getting it good to go and had an airtight plan to create interesting posts every day. As you can see from the haphazard posting schedule in the archives, this is something I’ve never quite achieved. But now the infrastructure is awesome and all I have to do is generate content on a regular basis. So I made my first video, and I had my first contest (“write a haiku”), and I had a great response (10 haikus!). And then…I went to go visit relatives in Boston. And then, less than two weeks later I went back to Boston because one of my beloved aunts had passed away. And after that, for a little while, I didn’t feel much like posting hilarious observations about life.

And now it’s summer, and my 14-year-old daughter is not yet driving, so my days are…amorphous, shall we say.

And it’s not like the world is pounding down my door to read the musings of a semi-rural singer-songwriter/mom.

But…I hereby commit – to myself, as well as to those early readers who have actually come this far – not to regular content – but at least to slowly but surely continuing to put my heart into this blog, because I’m inspired to do so, largely because I’m so moved and entertained by this guy and want to blog kind of like him when I grow up.

Thanks for reading this far.


3 Responses

  1. Well then, that’s all we can ask for and we’ll be happy to get it. Because we all love commitments!

  2. Rachel says:

    Now I know more about the music for the best TV show of 2010; the show would not have been the same without the theme song, so thank you for the explanation. Have to get the CD version at some point….

    I’m sorry for your loss. Fortunately, you know enough to give yourself time to get through it.

    Happy Fourth!

    • rainperry says:

      Thanks, Rachel! Sorry to take awhile writing back. I’ve been mercilessly spammed in the comments and accidentally didn’t read yours until tonight.

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