This year, Nashville songwriters were up for Best Original Song in a motion picture for their work in Country Strong. Nashville’s own Tom Douglas, Hillary Lindsey and Troy Verges were nominated for their song, “Coming Home.” Kudos to being in the running, but the award went to Randy Newman for his work in Toy Story 3 (20 times nominated, 2-time winner). The Academy Award for Best Original Song is one of the awards given annually to people working in the motion picture industry by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). It is presented to the songwriters who have composed the best original song written specifically for a film. Would Music City writers be in the running if the movie were not dedicated to country music and filmed here in Nashville?
The market of TV/Film music production is highly under-appreciated by the typical Nashville songwriter. When was the last time you as a songwriter thought to think out of the local mold and thought of how else your music could have a chance to breathe? In this day and age where even established, hit songwriters are finding it hard to rise to the top of the “killer song” list, why not be creative and write songs that are geared towards another medium.
Speaking in generalities here, local songwriters tend to write songs with vivid stories, specific to the country music listeners. Artists want the songs about the parties in the fields and fishing off the dock – that kind of focused songwriting won’t end up in the final scenes of an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Music heard in TV and Film has to be more broadly written to fit in scenes about broad feelings of love, loss, jealousy, worry, etc…
If this type of writing is right in your sweet spot and you feel like it isn’t widely popular here in the Nashville music scene, you may want to broaden your horizons and consider writing music for TV/Film. Some in the music production library business have been recently heard saying that their business has been growing steadily due to an increase in demand for pre-cleared content (from web media, tv shows/commercials, new tv channels, video games, corporate videos, etc).
Some Nashville-based publishing companies like Part One Music are catching on the market and need for well written songs for TV and film. If you are considering this, start watching tv – pay attention to the type of music used in commercials or the last five minutes of your favorite drama. There is a place for you in this piece of the musical pie, what do you have to lose?