by Head Above Music

By Gooding Kingdom

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Welcome brave souls.

I am an independent musician who has proudly played over 600 shows in 60 cities. I have done countless radio and tv interviews and built my own indie label, publishing and licensing company brick by brick. I have placed over 100 songs in films and television programs including The Matrix: Revisited and Animatrix, Dodge, Jeep, Chrysler, DVD’s of Nip/Tuck, The Closer, Ice Age 2, We Are Marshall and recently helped with the sonic re-branding of CNN, CNN international and PBS through Expansion Team NYC. I have accomplished this without corporate or major label support through a decade of borrowing, begging and stealing (i.e. writing, recording, saying yes to every live show I can play, making calls, asking questions, and generally showing up and soaking up everything I can). I also accomplished some of this long before moving to LA from Kansas. With major label funding becoming a thing of the past, more and more artists are asking how I landed placements in film and TV. Here are some of the things I have done over the years; I hope they save you some time and money.


I put these first as they include the nuts and bolts of sync and master licensing which I will not be covering here. We are going into this conversation assuming you have registered with a PRO (Performing Rights Organization) like BMI, ASCAP or SESAC. If you don’t know what this is, definitely read the suggested books listed below and get signed up so you will receive royalties if you get a song placed.




“Everything You Need to Know About the Music Business” by Donald Passman

“Music Money and Success” by Jeffrey and Todd Brabec

When you read these, you might sit down with a legal pad and pen and study it as if it were a college course.  Don’t skip the hard parts like I did the first 3x. Ok, I am still glazing over a couple sections 🙂

Unrelated but totally related…

“The Tao of Wille” by Willie Nelson

“Don’t Worry, Make Money” by Richard Carlson

“Catching the Big Fish” by David Lynch


If you are in LA area, my publishing administrator, attorney and often voice of reason, Steve Winogradsky, teaches a great night class at UCLA on music publishing.

Various Resources:

IMDB, Film Music Network, soundtrack.net; there are a ton of sites you can check depending on your style of music- and whether you are an artist trying to pitch songs with lyrics, or composers with more score based tracks looking for background placements. Grab the latest Musicians Atlas and look under catalogs and music supervisors. Start watching the end of every film and TV show and find out who the heavy hitters are. You most likely won’t get a hold of them at the start, but it’s crucial to know who is working on what. You could get an on online subscription to billboard (my head of operations for K2, Deb T. has one) and there are alot of mentions of what is going into production, who is working where, what the trends are, etc.

Getting to know the editors on a project can be a great resource too. It was actually an editor friend of mine who went on to become a fantastic director who gave me some of my first ops here in LA. I met him at a show I played at the Cat Club for about 5 people. We became fast friends and have been ever since.  Sometimes editors will put something in as a temporary track and the director/producer falls in love and gets the rights to the temp secured (AKA- “temp love”). If you are in high school or college and not in a major market where there are industry events and people to network with, score everything that your friends produce. Tell them they won’t be able to clear that track by the Beatles or Radiohead and that they should let you rescore it at once!

Do your homework on who is doing what is a HUGE part of showing the industry you care enough not to waste their time, or ours. Figure out what artists are in your genre and where they are getting placed. When you talk to people in the biz you must have some understanding of what is going on and what their needs are you are gonna have some really short and uncomfortable phone calls (I’ve had em and you don’t want em). Some of the music sups are becoming gatekeepers and tastemakers in today’s music biz, and in order to succeed in music licensing we must accept that part of our job is to provide them what they need and do some of their legwork for them. To put it simply: you MUST show them you have spent the time researching them before you blow up their phones.

If you are in LA or NYC and have a resume I would suggest signing up for the following organizations. All have events to give you the opportunity to network, find mentors and soak up current info.

SCL (The Society of Composers & Lyricists) www.thescl.com

AIMP (Association of Independent Music Publishers) www.aimp.org

NARAS (National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences) www.grammy.com

CCC (California Copyright Conference) www.theccc.org

ASMAC (American Society of Music Arrangers and Composers) www.asmac.org

Also- If you are already working in the business, I find linkedIn is a great way to get a sense of who runs with who and start to build your network. As musician’s we have a built in and painful empathy to take everyone on that comes to us. We want attention at some level and say yes very quickly. Whether it’s the kindness of your heart or sheer desperation, linkedin is one place you don’t take everyone who wants to connect with you since you are opening up your network to them and possibly tempting them to use your name to use with others. Be selective with your reputation and your time.




50 state tour starts March 6, 2010

Download my new record for free here: http://www.goodingmusic.com/music

And if this was helpful drop me a line and let me know how the fight goes at:

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