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Tips for getting your music on Sky TV

Peter Bradbury, director of music services at Sky UK, tells us what the company is looking for, how tracks get cleared for use and how artists can get their music placed…

Anita Awbi
  • By Anita Awbi
  • 19 Jun 2019
  • min read
Sky uses a staggering volume of music across programmes, promotions and advertising, working closely with publishers, labels, artists and composers to find the best music for its content. 

With 23.7 million customers across seven countries, it's Europe’s leading media and entertainment company and offers a wealth of opportunities for music-makers to bag that lucrative sync.

From commercial and production music to over 500 new commissions each year, its channels - including Sky Atlantic, Sky Sports, Sky News, Sky One, Sky Arts and Sky Kids - use thousands of hours of music from every possible genre.

Here, we pick the brains of Peter Bradbury, director of music services at Sky UK, to learn about what the company is looking for, how tracks get cleared for use and glean his top tips are for music-makers who want to get placed…

How do you source the music you use at Sky?

Sky has a team of music experts who discover new music every week and request the best tunes from hundreds of labels and publishers around the world. I believe that we are the only UK broadcaster that has the resource of a music creative team.

We also receive weekly emails from labels, publishers and pluggers with all their new releases and we have music delivered by many of the bigger labels direct to our internal digital library.

Where are the biggest opportunities for artists and composers?

Getting a track used on a promo for any of our channels is highly sought-after by labels and publishers. We have Sports, Drama, Entertainment, Comedy, Arts, News, Factual and Kids channels. A good song can also get many individual uses on our Sky Sports shows.

Which lyrics, styles and tempos work best on TV?

Sky Sports shows will generally use upbeat songs with positive lyrics, for example: legends; never giving in; up for the fight; in this together.

Promos for sports and entertainment tend to use upbeat tunes and good hooks; if the intro to a track is catchy it is more likely to gain attention for use in TV because most music uses are less than 30 seconds.

Drama promos use a variety of moods and styles, Sky Atlantic promos range from dark and lyrical to cinematic trailers with sound design.

How good do the recordings have to be?

Recordings should be of the highest quality possible and always be fully mastered. We need to cater for our viewers who have HD or UHD TVs with good sound and the music should match the quality of the pictures. Music should always be supplied as wav files.

If someone at Sky is interested in using a piece of our members’ music, what happens next?

We check each track is clearable; this is done via our automated system that communicates directly with the PRS for Music database, or by a manual clearance process and direct contact with the music rightsholders.

Do you have any tips for artists keen to secure a TV placement?

Firstly, make great music: everyone working in TV wants to use a great new tune.

Secondly, songwriters, artists and labels should register their songs with PRS for Music, MCPS and PPL before promoting to TV broadcasters. Producers need a tune to be immediately usable: if your tune isn’t registered, they will most likely move on to another track.  If an artist doesn’t have a publishing deal, they can register their tracks direct or artists are increasingly using non-traditional publishers and admin services who will register their works. Ensure any co-writers are also registered.

Thirdly, while it can be positive to release and register your music independently, having a recording or publishing deal can help with pitching for TV as all labels and publishers have relationships with broadcasters and production companies across the industry.