Television is more within reach than most people are aware, especially with shows in local markets. Once you get coverage, you can use it to open more doors and opportunities.
In the last article in our “get heard and seen” series, we talked about the many websites, sharing, and social sites you can target to get your music heard. Now, let’s move onto the “seen” aspect of getting discovered by large audiences: television and video streaming. Although television and video streaming options heavily favor established and well-known artists, both have opportunities that are within reach — even for musicians who are just starting out.
Public access television
Public access television still exists in major cities and typically has live TV shows that cover local arts, culture, and music. If you have a public access station in your area, these are great first places to target to break into television. Many stations have sound stages with lighting, cameras, and equipment that are perfect for hosting musicians. Note that these shows also do interviews with the artists, so it can become a bigger PR opportunity as well.
Local TV shows and talk shows
Most television markets have local morning and evening shows that highlight entertainment in the area. These often will feature local artists who participate in local events such as a festival or convention in town. These are still major TV stations — especially in large cities — that really want to cover local arts and culture. They are more within reach than you might think if you are willing to be persistent.
Music video channels
Music Video Channels like Music Choice play music videos 24/7. They are great for royalties and accept video submissions.
Syndicated national/international television shows
Syndicated shows go beyond talk shows and include probably one of the best known national shows: Saturday Night Live. They have a broad reach, but are extremely competitive to get into and focus mostly on established and famous artists.
Before you begin targeting any of these outlets, you’ll want the following at-the-ready:
Profiles and streaming platforms
Television can give you and your music a lot of exposure, so you’ll want to have your platform ready, including having your music on streaming sites. That way, if any of your songs get coverage, your new fans will be able to easily find more of your music. You should also link to playlists and have your music available on your own website. Same with social media sites (through your profile or posts) and your video channel. After all, if you get seen on television, you’ll want your new fans to be able to find you, subscribe, and listen. None of that is possible if you aren’t set up and ready-to-go from the beginning.
Television usually requires formal press kits, so ensure you have three versions of your bio handy for submitting to these sites: one sentence, one paragraph, and one page.
Make sure you have a link to images ready for use for the station’s coverage. They often will request this since they flash a band/artist or album photo during the segment.
Links to your sites and profiles
You’ll want to provide any television or video streaming channel with links to your sites and profiles for their content because they will often like to post.
Simple tracking system (spreadsheet)
Keep track of who, where, and when you sent your music and any supporting material. You can use simple spreadsheets, such as Google Sheets, which is free.
How to make money
Television generates performance royalties, so you’ll want to make sure you’re registered with the composition PROs like ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC. Depending on the nature of your performance, you may need to submit a cue sheet to inform your PRO exactly when and where your music was performed.
For more detailed info about how royalties work and the 14 registrations you should do to protect your music and ensure you get all the money that’s owed you, see the Licensing and Royalties chapter of our book, Making Money With Music.
How to get played
Once you’re registered to get all the royalties owed to you and have your music and press kit, here’s how you can get your music onto these types of outlets.
Search for the stations in your area
In the US, the Federal Communications Commission regulates all television and radio stations around the country. A simple search using the FCC’s search tool can quickly uncover all the broadcast and cable stations in your area. Be sure to click each station as you’ll get the studio’s address, email, and phone contact information.
By the way, this same tool lists radio stations as well, including: commercial, public, satellite, cable, and college stations.
Many of these television options are competitive, so you’ll need to have a very disciplined campaign to succeed.
Find the websites or social media for culture-based shows on your local Public Access television station and reach out to the show producers.
Note: Public Access usually restricts commercial activity, so while you can play, you may not be able to plug your music or merch.
Local TV shows and talk shows
Once you’ve identified your local stations, target those shows on the station you think you’ll be most likely to get on. Although this might seem out of reach, we know several local artists who were successful at playing on these shows by being persistent. And, once covered, they were able to add the fact they were featured on TV to their bios to generate many more opportunities. The keys to these shows are their producers, so find out who is producing the shows that you want to target and reach out. Many of these local TV shows have webpages that list submission directions.
Music video channels
Music video channels like Music Choice accept submissions, so follow their instructions. Just make sure you have a professionally produced video. Like everything in television, this is easiest to do when you have contacts rather than a cold submission. If you haven’t seen channels like Music Choice, check it out so you get a feel of what they feature. They play music constantly, and it’s a great outlet if you can get in rotation.
Post to social media and ask fans to share
Naturally, you’ll want to share everything about your television experience to your fans and anyone who connects with your social media profiles, so post before, during, and after your event.
Track your results
Once you have coverage, it’s a great time to update your search alerts with your artist name and the name of the songs that are part of your campaign. You can do this with services like Google Alerts.
Read the rest of the “Get Seen and Heard” series.
Authors of the critically-acclaimed modern classic, The Indie Band Survival Guide, Billboard Magazine called Randy Chertkow and Jason Feehan “the ideal mentors for aspiring indie musicians who want to navigate an ever-changing music industry.” Their latest book, Making Money With Music (Macmillan) and free Making Money With Music Newsletter, help all musicians — from startups to pros — build a sustainable music business so you can make money in today’s tech-driven music environment.
How to get your music reviewed and played on (all kinds of) websites
Craft three band bios to describe you and your music
Maximize your royalties by submitting cue sheets
How to get played on commercial radio
Are you ready for Music PR?
One thought on “How to get your music played on television”
While the basic information in this article is accurate, the impression it makes is misleading. There are only two effective ways to get your music licensed: 1. Sheer viral luck; and 2. Representation. Both of these do require hard work, perseverance, and yes, good music. But don’t be fooled into thinking that following ANY of the paths above will get you what you want. If you have your music and online presence ready, put ALL of your time into finding representation. Most outlets – including Music Choice – do not accept unsolicited material. One more bit of advice: don’t ever think you have to pay someone up front to do this work for you. Any partner worth the time & money will be in this fight with you, making their money only when you make your money. Anyone who claims otherwise is selling advice and not actual boots on the ground hard work.