4 Tips for Sync Licensing

Sync licensing has become a viable revenue stream for indie artists in recent years. In the past, many artists viewed having their music on a commercial as “selling out,” but today, this is what many bands and musicians strive for. The great news is that there is a huge demand for indie music in TV and film. Many TV and film networks and companies cannot afford to pay top dollar for music from the super stars.

Figuring out how to approach music supervisors and make your music appealing for sync licensing is another story. To give you a better understanding of what these music supervisors are really looking for, Mallory Zumbach, the Creative Director at Round Hill Music, shared some tips and insights into the world of sync licensing.

1. Watch and Listen, Listen and Watch

When I was in high school, I had a really great band director, Mr. G., who was constantly imploring us to listen to all sorts of different music. His point was that you can’t become a great musician from practice alone—you have to immerse yourself in music and learn from your contemporaries and predecessors. I really believe that the same thing applies for succeeding in the synch world. When you’re watching TV, don’t just regard the music as wallpaper—pay attention to what’s getting used in the shows you’re watching and the ads playing throughout them. Try to observe the trends in song uses, and then go back to your own catalogue and pinpoint which of your own songs might fit into those trends. It’s such a turnoff to music supervisors when you send them stuff that doesn’t fit the mood of their show or sounds too dated for their commercial campaign.  If you have more awareness of what’s currently working for people, that will help you have the kind of targeted approach that they appreciate. It can also help give you ideas for things to incorporate into new songs when you sit down to write and record.

2. Get Happy

In the ad world in particular, there is a constant need for music with positive lyrics. At the end of the day, agencies are trying to help their clients sell their products, and a depressing or angry song, no matter how great, isn’t typically going to help them accomplish that goal. I don’t think there will ever be a time when agency music producers will stop requesting songs with lyrics about positive, universal themes like togetherness, feeling carefree, things changing for the better, etc. Nothing is more of a bummer for me than having a writer I work with send me a song that is musically uplifting (yay!) with negative lyrics (boo!).  Which is not to say that you should only write cheery tunes—no one can be happy all of the time, and there are still synch needs for sad/mad songs in other areas like film, TV, and video games. It’s just that having one or two big, anthemic songs with positive lyrics will give you something to work with across all synch mediums. Our band American Authors has a fantastic song, “Best Day of My Life”, that’s getting all sorts of synchs, from ads to film trailers to TV shows, because it’s a feel good song with feel good lyrics that’s also really genuine.

To see the other two tips, visit Music Think Tank.

On top of the up front money you could get from a sync license, your music and career will also benefit from the exposure. Try not to view your sync licenses in a vacuum. Instead, try to connect the sync placement to the rest of your career. Let your fans know that your song will be on TV. Perhaps you could start a contest in which the fan who finds your song first wins a prize. Be creative here!

Which tip above do you find most useful?

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