6 minute read


Film, Television, And Advertising Licensing: Vice President Film & Television Music Licensing


In the licensing arena, you market and exploit the catalog of songs to film and trailers, television programs, commercials, advertising, and new media communities, such as CD-ROM and video games, for synchronization. You conceive and manage a variety of music marketing campaigns, and direct and motivate department staff.


A love of all types of music, as well as a keen interest in film and television programs are essential. Here, you must be highly organized, have typing and computer skills, and the ability to compose correspondence and various marketing materials. Verbal communication, leadership, self-motivation, and creative thinking are essential. Social skills, flexibility, and a friendly and outgoing personality are extremely helpful.


A typical day for Art Ford begins with phone calls, an average of 50 e-mails, and a half dozen packages of music sent from the territorial offices around the world. Often he will have an early morning meeting or conference call with a director, producer, or music supervisor, and lunch with a music supervisor or client. Ongoing projects include sending out music or negotiating a deal for a film or commercial, coordinating monthly marketing mailers, and working on special projects like events for the Sundance Film Festival. Each week, Ford's staff meets to listen to new music that has come in and the singles they publish that are entering the charts. When writers and artists are in town, he meets with them about their catalog and takes them to meet film and television people who potentially could use their songs. In between, Ford has inter-company duties such as budgets and other paperwork.


“This business is about relationships and being trusted.” People need to feel confident that the information you are giving them about a song is accurate and that they can trust you will follow through on the promises you make for its use.

Study film and television soundtracks to learn the names of supervisors, composers, writers, and others in the business. Become familiar with who wrote, published, produced, and recorded songs you love.



“The administrative side of the job, which I find a way to delegate and oversee as much as possible.”


“The short attention span quality of this business; I love the speed that it runs at. I like things that either pay off or don't pay off and you can move on quickly. I love that we make money for our songwriters and we defend their rights. I love being able to take care of my clients, which for the most part are my friends.”

“Find a way in. Even if you can start interning with a company, you can see how the business is done and learn who the players are. If you get an assistant position, you're in a perfect position to really take care of people and build some great relationships. If you can't get a job with a publisher, try working for a music supervisor. A music supervisor deals with the publishers, record companies, and managers, and you get to see the whole problem-solving side of the job.”


Art Ford began his musical odyssey as a drummer at age 11. By the time he was 15, he was playing professionally and touring with bands that opened for artists like Pat Benatar, Bob Dylan, and Tom Petty, until a car wreck ended his drumming career in 1985. Ford put in a short stint as a record producer, then as an independent talent scout in the Northwest, searching out grunge groups for Atlantic Records, and then touring as a road manager with bands like Ratt, L.A. Guns, and Poco.

After moving to Los Angeles, Ford landed a position in A&R for MCA-distributed Impact Records, working with acts like The Fixx and Southside Johnny and the Asbury Dukes. He created a job for himself when he discovered that there was no one assigned to field phone calls from film studios regarding licensing masters for sound tracks. After successfully placing songs in films like The Bodyguard and Point Break, Ford found that he loved the fast-paced, “I need it yesterday” energy of the film and television music business. Recognizing the need for a broader range of material, he worked out an agreement with the president of MCA whereby he was allowed to broker independent consulting deals with outside record labels and publishing houses. With song catalogs representing pop, rock, alternative, rap, and country material to draw upon, Ford quickly established himself as the one-stop source for film and television sound track licensing. In addition to his MCA salary, he was paid consulting fees by the catalogs he represented, as well as commissions on songs he placed.

Ford realized that if he could break into music supervising for films, he could be both the buyer and the seller. In return for supervising a small film for Synergy Productions, he obtained a letter of introduction that allowed him to get meetings with the presidents of the major publishing houses, leading to a subpublishing deal with Sony Music. Impressed by Ford's entrepreneurial spirit, in 1993 BMG Music's Danny Strick offered him a job running their film and television department.

Initially, Ford was a one-man operation. In order to service his clients and keep track of the thousands of songs in the BMG catalogs, he set up a song search computer database. Recognizing the power of the Internet, he convinced his employer to bankroll the launch of an on-line song search engine to the film and television community, becoming the first publishing house to do so. The success of the innovative user-friendly and service-oriented database established BMG's reputation within the industry as a proactive, artist-friendly music publisher. Ford's department grew to include its own marketing division dedicated to gaining exposure for BMG artists.

After seven years with BMG, Ford left his powerful position to launch his own company, June St. Entertainment in 2001. The firm catered to film and television music supervisors and advertising agencies, who “are always in crisis-management mode” when it comes to finding songs for specific projects. With a solid understanding of the needs and tight schedules of music licensees, he used cutting-edge Internet-based technology to create a song search engine where clients could search for music by artist, title, lyric, year, mood, gender of vocalist, or any other combination of prompts. The password-protected interface allowed clients to access information 24/7 from their own computers. When a potential song is identified, the user can preview the song instantly, burn it onto a CD, and cut it to picture.

In just over a year, the company placed songs in such films as A Walk to Remember, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Goldmember/Austin Powers 3, and Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle and in commercials for Coca-Cola, Nike, Old Navy, and UPS.

In response to several offers to handle all of the music supervision and licensing responsibilities for feature films and other projects, Ford formed Ford Music Services. He has served as a music consultant on xXx: State of the Union, Walk the Line, and Waist Deep. “I put music in movies and get paid for it,” Ford says, “Come on, that's a great job to have.”

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesCareers in the Music BusinessMUSIC PUBLISHING - Executive Office: Chief Executive Officer • President • Vice President/general Manager (major Music Publisher)