How to Write Music For Sync

We learn how to write music for film, TV, videogames and more... 


From production music to pitching to hear your creations soundtrack TV and films, the world of sync is vast and full of opportunities for music makers and composers. 

But if you're looking to break into this world, how do you go about it? 

As part of ICMP's recent Careers Day, organised by ICMP's Careers and Industry Hub, Geoff Cox from Universal Production Music and composer Amy McKnight were guests discussing how the different platforms, tips on composing and the best ways to get more work. 

Here's some of what we learned below:

Versatility across format is key for creatives looking to break into this world

Amy McKnight (AM): I’m a composer, sound designer and work in production music too. 

I’m working across a variety of different media, creating music for advertising and Tik Tok has become a big platform at the moment. I also compose long-form for TV, film and documentaries and try to maintain a balance between them. They can be similar but require slightly different ways of working. 

Sync can be one of many income streams

Geoff Cox (GC): The majority of composers we work with are on a freelance arrangement so many of them will have different strings to their bow. 

There are some that choose to specialise in one form but many are usually writing across multiple different projects and catalogues. 

As a writer, showing you can deliver opens up long-term opportunities

GC: We're constantly working with new writers but we also have a core group we can trust. Ultimately, my aim is to build relationships with composers. The ones I come back to are those I know are going to deliver on time and provide great quality music. 

Alongside this, we try out new writers - and in time, if they can deliver to deadline and provide great content, they will become among our regular composers too. 


Building relationships with music supervisors and decision makers is definitely a very useful thing to do as a composer. It will ensure that your stream of work expands."

Network effectively

AM: My journey into production was via using LinkedIn as a networking tool. I’d use a short, personalised message as an introduction either through this platform or via an email I’d find on their profile. Sometimes they have details on there about how they like to be contacted so make sure you look out for this. 

It’s really important to not send out the same generic message to everyone. Make it personal so hopefully they will read and pay attention. 

Work out your niche or style

AM: I have definitely found my own musical style. And I think it’s important to avoid being the composer that says they can produce every type of music. For me, I figured out that contemporary pop music is my sound and where I could fit into this music production world. It suits me as I was top lining and writing songs for major label artists before - so this is a continuation of this. 

GC: I get lots of emails from prospective writers - so it helps if I know where their strengths lie. Although there is a potential risk of being pigeon holed for one particular style. It is down to us as the commissioners of this music to make sure this doesn’t happen. 

Meet your deadlines 

AM: It’s really important that as composers we meet our deadlines - so work out a schedule, then stick to it. You need to behave professionally and meeting deadlines is a big part of this. You also need to provide what was asked for in the brief - so make sure editors have all the different edits and instrumentals that they need. 

Collaboration can help - don’t do everything yourself 

AM: I have friends who are great at guitar, bass and other instruments. If I think this is what the music needs, then I will collaborate with someone else to make sure the music is as good as it can be. 

I highly recommend a collaborative approach. It can often turn a piece of music into something you didn’t think it could be if it was just made by you sitting on your own."  

Don’t over reference - the music still needs identity

AM: I sketch out the production, then go through the references in the brief. But I think there’s a very thin line between acknowledging these influences and sources, then sounding too much like them. 

If you do continually get too close to these sources, then you might stop getting sent briefs. You still need to put some of your musical personality into production music, I think that really helps you stand out. 

Music requests come from different sources

GC: The kind of music you might be asked to make comes from our different data sources. So we have client-facing teams who provide feedback on the type of music they’re being asked for. There might be certain artists who keep getting named in briefs. We also have download data from our music production website and usage date. Our teams are also proactive in looking to see what trends are out there and the kind of TV shows or composers supervisors keep referencing. 

Become a composer or producer of music for the moving image

ICMP’s highly relevant and progressive course sees you explore audio composition and production requirements within the booming film, television and games industries. Develop the technical and creative skills to create high-quality music content for the broadcast media world.

To completely immerse yourself in your music career, email our friendly Admissions Team at or call them on 020 7328 0222.

BA Music Production for TV, Film and Games
by Jim Ottewill
August 16, 2022
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