Sync licensing can be a significant creative and financial driver for artists, composers, and producers. At a basic level, granting a sync and recording license allows a third party to use the copyright and sound recording of a musical work alongside visual media like TV shows, films, ads, trailers, and video games. It’s also an art form — a surefire way of adding a dynamic layer to an artist’s story while providing a significant revenue stream.
Sync In The Modern Age
It’s an exciting time to work in the music industry as more and more people have been enabled to create, independently distribute and market truly great music. However, this also means that the market is quite crowded. Sync can be one way to stand out; artists at just about any stage of their career should be thinking about it.
The sync industry is built upon trusted creative relationships and knowing how to be at the right place at the right time. Music, at its core, is subjective. For that reason, artists — especially new ones — should not rely solely on syncs as a source of revenue or marketing. This is why it’s imperative to align oneself with partners and companies that can put the music in the best place to succeed in this space.
Knowing Your Worth and Doing the Research
Companies in all corners of the music industry specialize in syncing music: traditional music publishers (that are actively pitching), sync houses, creative sync teams at labels and distribution companies, production music libraries, etc. Every artist is different and finding the right fit takes time and research. What is more important is understanding your value as an artist and asking questions when you do get a seat at the table.
When approached by a third party seeking to pitch and sync music on your behalf, be sure to ask questions about any success they’ve had in the last three-to-six months. Ask them how your music fits their goals for growth as a company, and questions about their business model and terms. The answers to these questions will help you make the best decision for you.
Creating Your Own Relationships
While aligning with people and companies who have relationships in place to pitch and sync music is the best way to set yourself up for success, I would urge any artist who has the time to build his or her own relationships. The creation of media content is growing every day and the majority of it needs music. Artists should develop working relationships with creatives such as producers, music supervisors, and video editors, all while understanding the strengths and subtleties of each field.
Music supervision is a craft and a highly nuanced profession. It combines a deep knowledge of music and music for pictures with music clearance and negotiation skills. It also requires a wide network of relationships with music rights holders and other creatives like showrunners, executive producers, and directors.
Before pitching to a music supervisor, take the time to research their current project(s) and ask yourself if your sound is a realistic fit. Let them know who owns or controls both your recording and publishing rights. Above all, be professional and respectful. That may be surprising for most, but it goes a long way.
The Benefits of Sync
Overall, I believe sync deals are beneficial for artists. They can be instrumental in helping to grow your organic fan base — the people who will consistently stream your music and come to your shows. They allow your music to take on a whole new meaning and creative purpose, and they provide a revenue stream that you can invest back into your career.
However, know your value! Do not give your music away for free. For newer artists, you will have to take risks as there will be opportunities with lower fees that can help provide a foundation for your career. But, do not shy away from negotiating. In my experience, if the music is truly meaningful to the production, there will be a deal that is beneficial for both sides. Just be prepared; it’ll go a long way.
While Songtrust does not offer creative services such as sync, we highly encourage our clients to create those relationships and pitch their songs for creative opportunities. To make sure you’re collecting all of your performance and mechanical royalties (and you and your songs are searchable for supervisors), register with Songtrust today!