• Usher Morgan

How to Get Music For Your Film

Updated: Apr 5, 2019


If you were making a low-budget, indie film in 1998, you would have never even considered the possibility of having a legitimate licensed song in your film. CD sales were at an all-time high, agents and artists alike were making big money from lucrative licensing deals and most low budget indie filmmakers had to resort to hiring indie music composers who somehow managed to accommodate their budget. However, things have apparently changed for the music industry in the past decade. The internet has created a vast market for indie filmmakers with small budgets who want to use all sorts of music in their films.


Nowadays, you can license music from websites like Greenlight Rights ($2,000 plus per song), The Music Bed (around $1,500 per song, roughly), BeatPick and Marmoset Music ($100-$400 per song), Audiosocket ($50-$500 per track), NeoSounds ($30-$300), and AudioJungle ($10-300), etc.


When dealing with smaller websites like AudioJungle and NeoSounds, the process is fast and easy. You can download low-res samples of the songs you want to use – they’re less likely to have real bands and more likely to feature instrumental music, with some exceptions. Websites like The Music Bed, Marmoset Music, and BeatPick will feature some amazing indie bands and some actual musicians like Johnny Cash and Charlie Feathers, while websites like Greenlight Rights will grant you access to any song you can possibly think of (Eminem, Katie Perry, etc.) but at a higher cost.

Another option at your fingertips is to go hunting for a local band willing to contribute their music to your film for the publicity. Or to write your own music into the film and hire actors who can sing, which is what we did for Pickings. In that case, my actress / co-producer Katie Vincent wrote and performed all of the music for the film, and a bunch of people contributed free tracks as well (because they wanted the exposure). We even published and sold an original soundtrack called Pickings – Music From the Motion Picture.


Greta Gerwig had certain songs she wanted for specific scenes when creating Lady Bird, so she wrote personal letters to Justin Timberlake and Alanis Morrisette to ask their permission to license their songs. Jonah Hill did the same with Morrissey and Trent Reznor for his directorial debut Mid90’s as well. They both didn’t have the musical budget for these artists, but they ended up making it work.


There are endless possibilities to get the music you want onto your film. You shouldn’t restrict yourself because of a fickle thing like money (when there’s a will there’s a way). Do your research, comb through every possible option, and you will find a way to get the music you want.


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