FuelTV’s Daryl Berg: Five tips for getting your music onto TV shows

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As bands search for pennies in the couch to make ends meet in the new economy, they are increasingly turning to a once-disregarded source of cash -- licensing music for television shows.

It used to be that only established or up-and-coming bands could get their music on broadcast shows such as ‘House.’ But with a plethora of new cable channels targeted at niche audiences, lesser known artists also now have a chance.


FuelTV, a Fox channel that focuses on young males ages 13 to 44, is a prime example. Its music director, Daryl Berg, is a music industry refugee turned TV executive who has worked for EMI Music and The Orchard.

Berg sat down with The Times at the New Music Seminar this week in Los Angeles to talk about how new bands can pitch music supervisors such as himself and Alexandra Patsavas, the queen bee of the business who has hand-selected music for more than 60 films and TV shows, including ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ ‘Twilight’ and ‘Mad Men.’

The money from licensing ranges from a couple hundred to several thousand dollars per play. ‘It’s not rock star money, but it’s enough to supplement your income,’ Berg said. Often, the money is less important than the publicity, especially for young artists.

For bands interested in chasing this revenue stream, Berg offers the following advice.

1. Match your music to the show. Don’t pitch country songs to a channel like FuelTV, which is watched by male adrenaline junkies. Find out which shows your music would best fit, then target their music directors.

2. Keep it streaming simple. Berg said he tries to listen to every album he receives. But sending confetti or balloons won’t make him listen to the music any faster. When pitching via e-mail, Berg said a link to a streaming playlist is easier and faster than attaching an album, which takes time to download and open. It’s also preferable to phone messages, because Berg can respond more readily to an e-mail late at night or on weekends.

3. Send tracks with killer openings. Music directors will only listen to the first 10 or 15 seconds of a song before they bail, if they listen at all, Berg said. Songs that hook people in immediately have a better chance of getting noticed.


4. Follow up, but don’t be a pest. It’s OK to follow up with a message two or three weeks after sending the album, he said. Peppering music directors with daily messages will only boost your chances of getting a restraining order, not a contract. If they turn you down, ask if they know someone else you can try so that your effort isn’t a dead end, Berg suggested.

5. If your music is stellar and you still fail, consider hiring a professional. ‘A pitch person can sometimes help you get in front of the right people, for a percentage,’ said Berg. One example is Natural Energy Lab in Los Angeles, which works to get its clients’ songs placed on TV shows, commercials and movies.

-- Alex Pham