How do you get your songs into TV shows and movies?

By Dave Carew

Over the past few years, I’ve met many singer-songwriters who have been able to get their songs placed in TV shows and movies. I bought my beloved Epiphone acoustic guitar (the one I still play) from Laurie Webb, who, at the time, had just placed a song in the latest Gwyneth Paltrow film. And my friend Shantell Ogden soon will have four of her songs played on the popular TV series “Hart of Dixie.”

This process has always been a mystery to me. Exactly how does one do this? How do you get your songs considered for, and placed in, TV shows and movies?

To get authoritative answers, Underground Nashville turned to Keegan Dewitt, a songwriter who has seen his songs placed in such popular TV shows as “How I Met Your Mother,” “Revenge,” and “Hart of Dixie,” and who wrote “Two Hearts,” the theme song for MTV’s “FriendZone.” Keegan recently was nominated for an Academy Award for his work scoring the film Inocente Carreño. Here’s what Keegan had to tell us:

UNDERGROUND NASHVILLE:   If you are a songwriter interested in placing your songs in films or TV shows, what is the first step you should take to make that happen?

KEEGAN DEWITT:  People should do the research and find out the main licensing houses (Zync, Secret Road, etc.), and then have management or a lawyer approach those licensing houses about representation. You should find a single, reputable licensing house to rep your music, and let them be the only ones submitting your work. There are a lot of people who have “boutique” licensing houses, which is essentially just a guy at a coffeeshop getting these email requests, and sending in any and every song he has on his iTunes. This not only makes the artist look bad, but it drives down the price of the track. “Boutique” houses mean well, but are rarely effective and don’t represent the artist with any real class or exclusivity.

UN: What additional advice would you offer?

KD: As with almost anything in the music business, never give up any exclusivity on anything. If someone is asking for it, there should be a considerable price tag involved. Exclusivity should be a life-changing amount of money. You’re very literally giving up that music’s revenue-creating ability for the indefinite future, so it better be able to make up for that, whether in the amount of cash involved, or the amount of profile-bumping involved.

Along with that, publishing and admin deals should be avoided unless they are also life-altering. If you’re doing your job as a hustling artist, with management alongside, it makes no sense to sign away publishing for a paltry $25,000 or what- not. It seems like great money, but suddenly a year goes by, you don’t own your creative work, and where are you at?

For more information about Keegan Dewitt, please visit WildCubMusic.com and/or KeeganDewitt.com.

David M. (Dave) Carew is writer/editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter,” both now available at XLibris.com. Dave also is a freelance book editor, publicist, seminar and workshop leader, journalist, and advertising / marketing / public relations writer.

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Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville by Dave Carew—which was praised by The Tennessean as “beautiful, haunting, powerful”—is now available in an all-new paperback edition. For more information, please visit and “like” the page on Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/EverythingMeansNothingtoMe?ref=ts&fref=ts

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Do you want to help homeless people in Nashville learn culinary arts and other employment skills that provide a specific, effective path off the streets? Please visit Lambscroft.org and consider making a financial contribution. Any amount is very helpful and appreciated. Thank you.

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Editor’s Note: “Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective, offering “thoughts from the shadows of a great American city.”

Dave Carew

 

 

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