Indie Champion Crucial Music Launches Virtual Custom Music Marketplace

by | Apr 12, 2016 | Music Licensing

Indie Champion Crucial Music Launches Virtual Custom Music Marketplace
And Why This is a Big Deal in the World of Licensing

When an agency, producer, music supervisor, CMO, or even a small business owner needs the perfect music for ads and promos, where do they go?

There are a slew of royalty-free stock music sites, but it’s hard to find the exact track to fit. There are the production houses, but often the catalogs are stale, and they mostly focus on instrumentals. Increasingly, master/sync licenses are the preferred method, but depending on the song needed, it’s time consuming (if not impossible) to search for rights holders, and the cost can be prohibitive.

Enter Crucial Music, which has been providing independent artists with an opportunity to compete with the majors in Master/Sync placements for a decade. With just around 1,000 artists in their catalog, Crucial is known for their high-quality (and picky) catalog. Having been successful with pre-recorded track licensing (mostly for TV and Film), Crucial is breaking into new territory with a custom music platform.


I spent some time chatting with one my favorites in the industry, the fantastic Tanvi Patel, CEO and president of Crucial Music, about the new venture CrucialCustom, billed as a “virtual custom music marketplace.”

You’ve been in the licensing game for over 15 years; what are some major changes you’ve noticed?

For the longest time, Film and TV were dependent on production library music. Productions were stuck with the cost of licensing big songs, or they had to use cold library searches. Around the early 2000s music became essential in new shows like The O.C. and Grey’s Anatomy; there was a need to score moments in shows with reasonably priced, real songs. Crucial Music was able to help independent artists earn very good fees, get noticed, and drive sales. The industry came to know what we always believed: music by independent artists always has more magic in it compared to library tracks.

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How did CrucialCustom start?

After a long back and forth of pitching catalog tracks that just weren’t the exact 1950s voice and style requested, and only 48 hours before the spot was due, the client said, “Why don’t we try this custom thing?” I only sent project specs to 23 writers, and I got 6 fantastic demos. The client was thrilled, and they ultimately went for it. The result was a national Old Navy spot by Crucial artist David Choi.

Why CrucialCustom now?

The growth in digital content for advertisers is exponential, but budgets have shrunk while speed is more important than ever. Online campaigns reach almost as many eyes and ears as broadcast, and clients demand tracks that sound like a million for a few thousand. There’s more original programming than ever with Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and cable networks. Even if budgets are tight, there are many more opportunities. More content means more music!

What kind of brands/clients is CrucialCustom targeting?

We feel like we have the highest quality of custom music at such a great price point for all types of advertisers – traditional and digital, small to large. We’re focused on everything, from :30s to long-form ads, mobile, industrial, broadcast, consumer markets, and TV.

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How is technology integrated with CrucialCustom? 

We’ve built a streamlined system for communication and efficiency, between us and the client, and also between our writers. Here’s an example: the client can sync music with their video, and see a waveform in front of them. They can then click and timestamp a comment at exactly :25 – “I don’t like the sax here, can you change it to be more staccato?” Work gets done quicker, musicians have clear input, and the clients get exactly what they need.

Walk us through the CrucialCustom process.

Clients upload video or just detailed specs of project, and music details (Rock, Pop, Artist Style). Our team matches up the criteria with Crucial artists who get an email notification. As demos are uploaded, we review them for the quality, specs, etc. Even if the track won’t work, we can contact the composer to make some changes and fix the track to resubmit. Once we approve the tracks, the client gets demos in their project profile. Clients may get 20 or more demos, and they can select up to 5 that they think work. They can license immediately, or work with the composers to make the first round of revisions with no charge.

What kind of producer/songwriters is CrucialCustom looking for?

We’re always looking for great songwriters. But, as you know, a lot of this game is quick-turnaround, often less than 24 hours. So, to be effective, we’re looking for self-contained songwriter/producers with a home studio, or access to one, and the ability to finish a high-quality track quickly, and of course, write terrific hooks.

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Visit and then upload your best track to be considered at

Michael St. James is the founder and creative director of St. James Media, specializing in music licensing, publishing, production and artist development.