Sync Placement: How To Win The Music Lottery!

by Melanie Lane
December 14, 2020 

So you want to be a Sync Star? – Your song perfectly placed in an ad, film, TV show or video game can certainly help put you on the fast track towards stardom! This article will help you to achieve this goal and to understand the challenging aspects involved in sync licensing such as; How to get your songs heard by Music Supervisors and What to expect if your song is selected for placement. Here is my advice on how to be a Sync Winner! –

Artist Identity

While you might think chasing down every sync person in existence hoping that you are exactly what they want is the best strategy, the truth is their wants frequently change depending on the project at hand. Music Supervisors are hired for various jobs which are specific to each individual client. The best way to get yourself out there for sync is to PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE! Meaning, constantly promote yourself and your music based upon your specific Artist Identity. To create this, think about some of your favorite bands and three words which best describe them. Now do this for yourself as an artist. Then take a consensus from your friends and fans, if this is the best way to describe your sound. Stick to these key words which define your Artist Identity. It will be much easier for sync managers to find you if you are marketing yourself based upon very particular keywords. Also your artist bio should be 3 – 4 sentences written in the 3rd person.

Social Media

Once you have your image identified, your keywords will outline your music and should be used consistently on all your social media pages. When you have new music, promote each of your tracks individually at separate times as if you were releasing them as singles. Also if you are mixing personal projects or other occupations on your Artist social media, cease this immediately! If you want to be taken seriously as a musical artist then present yourself as one, and not a Singer. Photographer. Model. Yoga Enthusiast. Etsy Seller. Cat Lover. Covid Hater. If you want to be recognized for your music, keep it all about the music. After you hit the big time, you can then use your career as a platform to promote everything you are involved in. But for now, the photos of your dog modeling your new line of crochet face masks belong on a separate page.

Promo tracks

Do not have the intro, bridge or outro duration too long on tracks for sync consideration. The average music supervisor does not have time to listen to every song submission in its entirety. So if your song intro is a guitar strumming for over 20 seconds, then you have already wasted the few valuable moments of attention to your music that you had. Create promo edits of your tracks specifically for the industry with short intros that highlight the best parts of your songs. And be certain to include what makes each of your tracks unique on your social media, i.e. literary referenced lyrics, dreamy guitar. Again, use your favorite songs as practice to describe the best parts in a few words and then do this for your tracks. Keep in mind the basic elements of music (melody, texture, rhythm, form, harmony) when creating your descriptions.

Artist and Copyright information

One of the most important suggestions that I can give to anyone who wants their music placed in Film and TV is, have all of your copyright and licensing information ready! When a sync manager contacts you, they will need very detailed information about your song; who wrote it, who owns it, who is the publisher. You must provide percentages and contact information for each person involved. So round up your band members or songwriting partners to sort this all out now, so there is NO confusion later. If there is a delay providing this information, then a sync manager could take a pass. I have been in situations where an artist or songwriter did not have the information needed to license their track, and the project just could not wait any longer for them to get it together. Also, keep in mind that submitting incorrect information could render your sync deal invalid.

Sync Fees

The Fee quoted is usually the exact amount that you will be paid. In most standard Recording Contracts there is a clause which states that Artists cannot hold out for more money for sync placements. Sync Fees can range anywhere between a few hundred dollars into the tens of thousands. A good gauge of being paid fairly is to ask the sync manager what is the music budget or production budget. If the budget for the entire project is enormous compared to the fee they are willing to pay, then you can always decline. All music placements are subject to a budget which has been set by the client who hired the Music Supervisor. They only have a certain amount of money per project and are not open to negotiations for a sync fee significantly higher than the amount quoted. So if you are an emerging artist, then do not expect a huge pay day. But remember that sync placements are someone paying you to promote your music!

Be Patient and Respectful

Even if you are in negotiations for your song being placed, there is no guarantee this will come to fruition. Things happen and clients change their mind, as we all know the phrase – ‘They decided to go in a different direction.’ However frustrating this might be, do not get angry with the sync person because it is most likely not their fault. Let me dispel a widely exaggerated sync myth – A Music Supervisor or Sync Manager’s job is NOT listening to music all day and picking songs that they like, yay! You, the artist, are just one on a huge list of people they are dealing with on a daily basis. They are also negotiating with the music publisher, record label and artist management for each individual songwriter on each selected track for each project. All this while trying to stay within strict budgets and deadlines. It is hard work to clear a song! So if you are courteous and easy to deal with, then you are a sync manager’s dream and this could help put you in consideration for their future projects if your music suits.

I have often described sync placement as the Music Lottery. There are many factors involved in the probability for any Artist to get a placement, and for an unknown artist this might seem highly unattainable. However, as the slogan goes, Somebody Has To Win! Well that somebody could certainly be you, and hopefully after reading this article you will have much better odds.

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