In television, music can be used as a theme song, the underscore, a song written for a specific scene, a pre-existing song, production company logo, promotional music, or as a commercial jingle. 

In film, music can be used in three basic ways: 1. the underscore, 2. the song written for the film and 3. the pre-existing song.  This website focuses mainly on how to get the music you already have recorded into film and TV, or the “pre-existing” song.  The pre-existing song can be used multiple ways in films:


1. Background music with vocals: A song played in the background, as support for a scene.  Vocals are included.

2. Background music without vocals: A song played in the background, as support for a scene.  This is an instrumental.

3. Visual vocals: One of the characters is singing the song on screen.

4. Visual instrumental:  An orchestra or band is playing a song on screen.

5. Opening or closing theme: A song used during the opening or closing credits of the film.

Each of these types of music uses generates different fees and royalty payments.    For example, background music with vocals pays five times as much in royalties than background music without vocals! 

Find out what the scene is. Is it important thematically for the movie?  Oftentimes, the music supervisor will explain the scene and how it will be used.  Sometimes they will send you a few pages of the actual script where they want your music used.

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