From Recording to Licensing: How to Prepare Your Music for submission to a Library

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Submitting your music to a library is a crucial step towards getting it licensed for use in various media productions. But before you hit submit, it's important to properly prepare your music to increase your chances of success. In this blog post, we'll share four essential tips to help you get your music library-ready.

I. How to Research Music Libraries and Submit Music that Fits their Criteria

Let’s focus on the importance of considering the type of music library you are submitting your music to. This is a critical step in preparing your music for submission, as different libraries have unique requirements and preferences for the type of music they are looking for.


To maximize your chances of success, it’s important to research the library you are submitting to and ensure that your music fits their criteria. This can involve listening to the music they already have in their catalog, reviewing their submission guidelines, and considering their target audience.


One key consideration when researching music libraries is the type of media productions they cater to. Some libraries specialize in providing music for film and TV, while others focus on video games or advertisements. By understanding the types of media productions a library works with, you can tailor your music submissions accordingly.


Another important factor to consider is the genre of music the library is interested in. Some libraries may have a specific focus on a particular genre, while others may be more open to a range of styles. Researching the library’s previous music releases can help you gain insight into their preferred genres.


Overall, taking the time to research and understand the library you are submitting to can greatly increase your chances of getting your music licensed. By ensuring that your music fits their criteria, you are more likely to catch their attention and potentially secure a licensing deal.

II. The Importance of Creating Edit Versions for Your Music Library Submissions

Having edit versions of your music, such as underscore or 30-second versions, is crucial when submitting to music libraries. This allows the music to be more easily adapted to different media productions, increasing the chances of it being used or pitched. By providing these versions upfront, you make it easier for music supervisors to find the right piece of music for their project and increase your chances of getting licensed.


Let’s take a closer look at what edit versions are and how they can be categorized:


1. Full-length versions

This category includes versions of the original piece of music that have been reduced in instrumentation or vocals. For example, a “No Lead Instruments” version, a “Reduced” version, or a “Stripped Down” version. 

These versions are typically used for background music in TV shows, movies, or commercials where the focus is on the dialogue.

a) No Lead Instrument

Underscore versions of tracks are important because they allow for background music to support the action on screen without competing with dialogue or other important audio elements. This is especially important when a song’s lead instrument or frequency range may conflict with the main character’s voice or dialogue. 

b) Reduced Instrumentation or “Stripped-down”

An underscore version with reduced instrumentation is often more appropriate for scenes requiring a lighter musical accompaniment to evoke a sense of tension, suspense, or unease. This type of underscore can effectively enhance the mood of a scene or be used to foreshadow upcoming events.

Ultimately, underscore versions allow for greater control and flexibility in using music to support storytelling in visual media.


2. Time-cuts or “cut-downs”

This category includes different versions of the same piece of music that have been edited to fit specific time durations. For example, a 30-second cut, a 15-second cut, or a 60-second cut. These versions are typically used for commercials, promos, or short videos where shorter pieces of music are required.

a) 60sec, 30sec, 15sec

Production music libraries, often include time-cuts of 60 seconds, 30 seconds, and 15 seconds in length, with the 30-second version being the most commonly used  and most popular choice for advertising, promos and other media productions that have a limited time to convey their message.

Overall, cut-downs play an important role in the production music industry by making it easier and more convenient for media producers to find and use the music they need to create compelling and engaging content for their audiences.

3. Alternate versions

This category includes versions of the original piece of music that have been remixed or reimagined in some way. For example, a “Remix” version, a “Trailerized” version, or an “Acoustic” version. These versions are typically used for specific scenes or trailers where a different mood or atmosphere is required.

a) Remix

A remix is a version of a song that has been reworked by a producer or remixer. The original recording is often edited, rearranged, and/or have additional elements added to it such as new instrumentation, electronic beats or effects, or vocal samples. The purpose of a remix is to give a fresh spin to the original song, and to make it more suitable for different contexts such as clubs, radio, or streaming services. There are many different types of remixes, such as radio edits, extended versions, club mixes, and dub versions.

b) Acoustic

An acoustic version of a song is typically a stripped-down, unplugged, or live version of the original recording. In an acoustic version, the focus is often on the song’s melody and lyrics, with minimal instrumentation, and sometimes features alternate vocal harmonies. The purpose of an acoustic version is to showcase the song’s composition in a more intimate, organic way, highlighting the songwriting and performance skills of the artist.

c) Trailerizing

A trailerized version of a song is a specific type of remix that is designed for use in movie trailers, TV spots, or video game trailers. The trailerized version often features a three-part structure: an intro, a buildup, and a climax. The intro is typically a slow, atmospheric section that sets the mood for the trailer, often featuring sound effects or dialogue from the film or game. The buildup is where the music gradually increases in intensity, with the addition of percussion, strings, and/or electronic elements. The climax is the most intense part of the trailer, featuring a big, epic, and dramatic sound. The purpose of a trailerized version is to create an emotional connection with the audience and to convey the film or game’s story, action, or theme in a concise and powerful way.


Interpolation in music refers to the act of using a portion of a pre-existing song in a new composition, often as a way of paying homage or creating a new…

Learn more about Interpolation »

Trailerizing a track is a process of taking an existing song and creating a new version that is suitable for use in movie trailers, TV spots, or video game trailers. This process is called Interpolation. There are multiple forms of trailerizing a track, depending on the needs of the specific trailer. One approach is to take parts of the song and add cinematic elements such as strings, brass, choir, and modern cinematic percussion to create a buildup that gradually increases in intensity until a big climax. This type of trailerized version is often used for action, adventure, or epic trailers.

Another approach is to take elements of the song and make it more soft and reduced, often featuring acoustic instruments, piano, or solo vocals. This type of trailerized version is often used for romantic, drama, or emotional trailers. The purpose of trailerizing a track is to create an emotional connection with the audience and to convey the film or game’s story, action, or theme in a concise and powerful way. The trailerized version of a song is usually shorter than the original, with a specific structure that is tailored to the needs of the trailer. 


4. Sting and Link Versions

This category includes short versions of the original piece of music that have a specific ending designed for use in film, TV, or advertising. 

a) Sting

In the context of production music libraries, a sting is a short musical phrase or sound effect that is used to punctuate or emphasize a specific moment in a media production, such as a transition, a reveal, or the introduction of a new element.

A sting is typically very short, often lasting only a few seconds or less, has a buttoned ending or hit, and is designed to create a specific emotional or dramatic effect. Stings can be musical or non-musical, and may include sounds such as a drum hit, a guitar riff, or a synthesizer flourish, among others.

Stings are commonly used in a variety of media productions, including television shows, films, commercials, and video games. They can help to create a sense of excitement, anticipation, or tension, and can be used to emphasize key moments in a production, such as the introduction of a character, the reveal of a plot twist, or the climax of a scene.

Production music libraries often offer multiple stings of the same song, such as a music or drum hit, to provide flexibility in editing and fitting the music to different scenes or project needs.

b) Link

Unlike Sting versions, which have a buttoned ending, Link versions have an open ending that can create a sense of continuity and flow between different parts of a project or scene. These versions are often useful for linking different scenes that require an open, suspenseful, or tense mood.

Link versions can end on a non-tonic chord or include a different melodic ending than the full-length version.

In conclusion, Link and Sting versions of a song are essential tools for music supervisors and editors to use in their projects. With their open or buttoned endings, they can help to create seamless transitions, add tension or suspense, and provide flexibility in the editing process. The different chord choices in Link versions can also offer a variety of options for scene changes. Overall, having access to these versions can greatly enhance the effectiveness of a music track in a project.

5. Stems

Stems are individual submixes of a song’s tracks that group together related instruments or sounds. For example, drum stems may include all of the drum tracks in a song, while vocal stems may include all of the vocal tracks. In addition to drums and vocals, common stem groups include bass, guitar, keyboards, strings, horns, and percussion. Some producers may also create stems for specific effects or processing, such as reverbs or delays. The number and type of stems can vary depending on the complexity of the song and the needs of the production.

a) Stems in commercial music

By exporting individual stems, a producer or engineer can adjust the levels or processing on specific elements of the song without affecting the rest of the mix. This can be useful when making changes to a specific part of the song or when creating alternate mixes, such as instrumental versions or remixes.

b) Stems in the Film and TV

Stems are a crucial tool in post-production as they allow for greater control and flexibility in the mixing and mastering process. They can be particularly useful when certain elements in the song are in conflict frequency-wise with the dialogue or any other element in the scene, as they allow for adjustments to be made to the level and frequencies. 

Additionally, stems can come in handy when a Music Supervisor or director chooses to use a song and “trailerize” it by adding cinematic elements like strings, orchestral percussions, etc. while leaving some elements of the original version out.

So what versions do I need to submit?

To ensure a comprehensive submission, the minimum versions that need to be included are the “Full Version”, “No Lead Melody”, one “30sec version”, two stems “Drums and Bass” and “Music Stem”, one “Sting” and one “Link”. 

However, for an optimal selection of versions, it’s recommended to submit “Full Version”, “No Lead Melody”, one or two “Underscores”, one or two “30sec version”, three to four “Stems”, two or three “Stings”, and two or three “Link versions”. 

Additional versions such as “Acoustic versions” or “Remix version” or even “Trailerized version” can be considered as an added bonus.

III. The Technical Details You Need to Know Before Submitting Your Music to a Library

Submit your music in the correct format: The library may specify what formats they accept, but generally, you should provide high-quality audio files such as WAV or AIFF. 

Let’s have a closer look on the technical requirement:


1. Bit rate and sampling frequency

In professional film post-production, the most commonly used audio format is 24-bit 48kHz WAV or AIFF. This is because 24-bit audio provides more information and a greater dynamic range than 16-bit audio, making it suitable for the high demands of film soundtracks. Additionally, 48kHz is traditionally the sampling frequency used in post-production, providing a high-quality and accurate representation of the original sound. 

Other formats such as MP3 or AAC may be suitable for other purposes, but are generally not used in professional film post-production due to their lower quality and limited editing capabilities.


2. Clean editing; Reverb Tails

It is crucial to have all tracks and versions with clean edits and to ensure that the high-quality of the original recording is maintained. Any unwanted noise or artifacts in the recording can be very distracting and take away from the overall production value. Additionally, abrupt cuts can also negatively affect the flow of the scene or project, and it’s important to make sure that all edits are smooth and seamless.

In the case of a track that ends with reverb, it’s best to leave the reverb tail and not abruptly cut it off. This is because cutting off a reverb tail can sound unnatural and abrupt. Instead, it’s best to leave the reverb tail and let the editor make the decision on how to cut it according to their specific needs. 

Overall, attention to detail in the editing and post-production process is essential in creating a polished and professional final product.


3. Mastering or “Don’t squeeze the master”

It’s important to leave enough headroom in the final mix of a song, especially for use in post-production, as it will go through multiple stages of dynamic processing. Overly compressing or limiting the mix can cause problems for the editor or mastering engineer down the line, so it’s best to avoid squeezing the master and instead aim for a healthy level with enough room for adjustments. This allows the editor or mastering engineer to tailor the sound to the specific needs and preferences of the project.

It is important to remember that a song can be quickly mastered and compressed, but it cannot be easily undone if it’s over-compressed.

IV. Organizing Your Music for Submission: Tips for Accurate Metadata and Consistency

Chapter IV focuses on the importance of organizing your music properly when submitting it to a music library. In addition to providing high-quality tracks, you will also need to ensure that all of the necessary metadata is included and accurate.

1. Copyright ownership 

One key piece of information that music libraries require is copyright ownership information. This can include information about the ownership of the master recording, as well as the composition itself. You will need to provide all relevant information regarding copyright ownership, such as the names of all writers and performers involved in the recording.

2. Metadata

Another important piece of metadata is the track title, artist name. It’s important to ensure that this information is consistent and accurate across all of your tracks. In addition, you may also need to provide information about the instruments used, the genre of the music, and any relevant descriptive information about the sound or style of the music.

It’s also important to provide information about any edit versions of the track that you have created. This can include information about the length of the version, as well as any specific uses or placements that the version is intended for.

By organizing your music properly and ensuring that all relevant metadata is included and accurate, you can make it easier for music supervisors to find and use your music. This can greatly increase your chances of getting licensed and having your music featured in media productions.


Our article explores essential tips for preparing music submissions to a music library. In the first chapter, we discuss the importance of considering the type of library you are submitting to and tailoring your music to fit their criteria. In the second chapter, we emphasize the importance of creating edit versions of your music, such as underscore and 30-second versions, to increase the chances of your music being used or pitched. In the third chapter, we focus on the technical details, including sampling rates, mixing, and mastering requirements. Finally, in the fourth chapter we highlight the importance of properly organizing your music when submitting to a library, including accurate metadata, information about copyright ownership, and details about edit versions of the track.


By following these essential tips, you can increase your chances of success as a music library artist and increase the likelihood of your music being featured in media productions.