This Is How YOU Can Get A Licensing Deal!
Updated: Jan 1
Guide on Sync Licensing: How to Get Your Music Placed in Ads, Tv & Films Introduction
As a musician, seeing your song played in a movie or a commercial means far more than the financial aspect of it. The alchemy between a song and a visual or a video resonates with millions of people worldwide. This is how you step foot into the listener's world. It is not new for a struggling or an upcoming artist to go through an existential dread from time to time. There are moments where you might get second thoughts about your career choice. There are times when you may wish to go back to college or get a regular job. Now imagine closing a deal worth $6000 for a song you created to be used in a film project for the next two years. This is where a good sync deal comes in and re-motivates you to invest in your art again. What Is a Sync License And How Much Can You Earn From It? Sync, which is short for synchronization, is a process through which your music's audio element is embedded or fixed into becoming a form of visual production. On the other hand, a license is a permission granted by the original musician or copyright holder to use his work in some form. It could either be for broadcasting, recreating, or simply for listening to the copyrighted work. In simple words, the link between a music creator, a media outlet, and the compensation for using the creator's work is called a license.
The primary areas of sync licensing include advertising, film, TV, and computer games. Advertising is, by far, the most profitable but equally challenging area. It Is also the most expensive area to target as it employs several thousand to select music for a particular project. As compared to the gaming industry, it is far more inclusive and accepts a variety of music. Gaming companies, on the other hand, only utilize a handful of music.
Simply put, if you are thinking about breaking into the music business, a sync license is your way of making money out of your musical piece of work. The need for music in films, commercials, radio, tv shows, etc. is becoming more and more essential with every passing day. Simultaneously, the need for more music means the need for more musicians. However, the growing competition has its own drawbacks.
As an artist, the amount of money you can earn depends on the sites you use and the type of clients they have. On average, you can earn up to $1200 a month; however, the top artists can also make a whopping $700,000.
What Are Mechanical Royalties?
As a musician, you are eligible for mechanical royalties if your songs have been distributed and sold in a territory. Moreover, even if someone remakes your song, they are required to pay you this royalty. With increasing cases of copyright infringement and unlawful use of several artist's works, It has become immensely important to understand the concept of paying royalties to the original copyright holder. Copyright lawsuits are a serious deal and can get you into unnecessary trouble. To find out who the original copyright holder for a particular piece of art is, you can always visit www.copyright.gov and obtain a mechanical license. Types of licenses Mechanical license
A mechanical license differs from a sync license because it only allows the license holder to release song composition audio. Even if someone releases a recording of a very small portion of your song, they would need a mechanical license. They are often used for cover songs.
Advertising is an area that creates brand awareness among the masses. Music comes into play as it helps create an emotional connection between the brand and its target audience. But the question remains, how can your music reach the right brand? The good news is that as an independent artist, you might have a better chance of being approached by advertising agencies than the musicians who work under record labels. This is due to the declining trend of licensing work from major record labels. Here are some tips to help you make the right choice when it comes to advertising agencies. a. Shortlist main agencies Instead of sending your work to every agency out there, do some homework on the ones that represent a brand your music suits best with. If you end up sending your music to everyone, it can cost you a good 1500 pounds. The same amount could also have been spent on promoting an upcoming single, revamping your website, or organizing a live gig instead. b. Focus on developing relationships Once you have filtered the agencies and found a point of contact, always introduce your label or your independent work. However, it is always a plus point to have a previous relationship with them. Regardless, you can send them a fact sheet describing the type of music you or your record label represents. You can also send a sample song but make sure it’s relevant. c. Apply the DIY approach The DIY approach might seem frustrating and time-consuming, but you will eventually reap the rewards with consistency and good practice. The secret to getting there is in building relationships, doing plenty of research, and staying patient. However, It may take some years for your hard work to pay off as advertising is a very competitive market. d. Negotiate your fee well Advertising agencies are not exactly known for fair negotiations when it comes to the fees for music. As an artist, never allow your music to be de-valued. Find out the market price from a publisher or lawyer to create a contract for you. Tracks are often licensed for as much as £150,000 and as little as £5000 depending on certain factors. Television
The TV produces several hours of programming worldwide and provides various promotional opportunities. Independent musicians can greatly benefit from it as even an hour-long drama uses several pieces of music. Moreover, TV producers and editors often work on tight deadlines and prefer quick solutions offered by independent right holders. Many TV shows prefer originality and creativity in their music and often find such work unavailable with major labels. Here are the following ways you could make it big on TV: a. Take note of the type of music used in TV shows, dramas, etc. and figure out which of your work fits the feel. Make it a habit to check the credits at the end of the program for details of the production company. Send in your music and explain how your work could be used in a particular episode. b. Research may also be beneficial. If you didn't get the chance to figure out what music has been used in a particular season of a TV show, you could still do your research by using www.tunefind.com. c. If you are on to trying your luck in the US market, you must understand that music licensing on TV occurs in cycles and usually coincides with pilot programs. A huge number of such programs get produced in the middle of January and April. Therefore, during summer, a lot of music licensing is carried out to prepare for fall. d. Try to make more contacts with TV music supervisors instead of Film music supervisors because the latter is almost always at the mercy of a creative director. In contrast, the former has more say in music selection. The people that are mainly involved in fitting and editing music into TV shows are editors, producers, and supervisors within a production company. Therefore, know where to make contacts. e. Do your homework about the fees you can charge. A lot of factors come in to play while deciding the average fees. It usually depends on where the show will be broadcasted. Most high rated shows license a single song in each episode and use unknown material to fill the remaining spots. f. If your song is used for a pilot show, you can expect your fee to be higher than the average that is anywhere between £1,200 to £3,000. However, the United States' most profitable license is of a theme song on TV, which could earn you up to £15,000.
Computer Games Computer games are one of the leading industries after advertising and tv that use music in some of their best-selling games. Even though music used to be incorporated in games at the ending stages of production, it is now also added in the initial stages. Several parts of a game can use it, such as menus, motion video, replay footage, etc. Just as music is an essential component of TV due to its emotional value attached to a particular show, it is used in games for the same reason. While playing games, the players need a sort of rush or emotion to add value to their experience. Independent musicians can gain a huge lead when it comes to attaining musical rights in games because they have much more niche music than a lot of huge labels. Moreover, as gaming is becoming more and more accessible on a number of handsets, there is a greater chance for people to download music they hear instantly. Here are some important pointers that could help independent artists have an edge over others.
a. Different games use different genres of music. For example, rock and metal music fits the racing game vibe, whereas indie music may better suit football games.
b. The process of adding music into games is initiated as early as 18 months before the game is launched. Unlike advertising where your track can be replaced even after being incorporated into an ad, games are much more reliable.
c. While there are many companies that dominate TV or advertising, only a few dominate the gaming industry. This makes it more convenient for independent musicians to target a particular company for work.
d. It is important to note which companies use composed music the most. For example, Nintendo is known to be one such company, and it gets its licensing done entirely from Japan. Moreover, Konami, Sony Play Station, and Xbox are also very open to licensing independent music. e. Once again, the key is to do your homework and find out which new games can go well with the genre you produce. Once you figure that out, target the person who's working on that game.
f. The gaming industry is much more fair and lucrative as compared to the film industry. However, it is important to find out how your music will be used in the game when it comes to charging a fee. The more areas it covers in a game, the better your chances of earning more. You can be paid in terms of the number of games sold, the number of times your music has been used, and so on. g. Last but not least, consider the following questions before finalizing any deal with a gaming company. Ø What kind of game is it? Ø What is the music budget of the game? Ø How much is the audience for this game? Ø Which music from other artists is being used? Ø In how many territories is the game available? Film
Films production is divided into two main categories: independent and major studios. The USA is one of the major producers of major motion pictures across the globe, whereas the UK produces a majority of independent films. However, the production of independent movies has immensely increased over the years. Music in motion pictures vs. independent films A large number of major motion pictures use sourced music as their central component. However, the type of music used in films also depends on the film genre, and many a time, large companies tend to look for different and unusual music genres. They are also open to licensing from outside the United States. On the other hand, Independent films also tend to use music to fit their concept and vision. The amount of sourced and composed music depends on a number of factors such as the director's take on the story, the movie genre, and how well the music goes with the story. Independent films are also made in much lower budgets than major motion pictures due to which many supervisors cannot afford to license music from big record companies. Therefore, they actively look for the work of independent musicians.
In order to get your music to the right people in the industry, you must note the following:
1. Use Resource Guides
Resource guides are a great starting point for you to make contacts, and it is always better to have more than one directory or guide. They have all the contacts and addresses you need. You can refer to "The Music Registry" for reference guides pertaining to the film, TV, and music industry. This is one of the oldest companies to provide directories for TV and has been in business since the 90s. It carries plenty of information about music editors and supervisors, among several other things. However, you can also refer to the "Hollywood Creative Directory," "Blu-Book Directory," and "Music Connection" as these are all well known for their directories and guides.
2. Do Your Homework
This has been emphasized upon in many places in this article, and regardless of what field you are opting for, you must do your homework. Make a list of contacts to approach from the resource guides and ensure that your music suits the interest of these contacts. For instance, if you sing pop, make sure that the agency you are contacting licenses proper vocal music and not just a minute long instrumental song. The best way to find that out is by watching relevant shows and take note of their style so that you are well informed before approaching them. In addition, always for more recommendations from the person in question in the case they are unable to use your music. Try to maintain a log that has the dates and names of the people you spoke to.
3. Build A Catalog
Whether you just started out or have been a part of the business for years, having a product is crucial. You must have enough songs when you are shopping for licensing possibilities. It is never a good idea to send only one song to a supervisor unless it is a big hit that everyone knows about. It is only sensible to do so since you are already going through the trouble of contacting people. Always inquire about any future projects that could use your work in case it cannot be used for a current project.
4. Understand Music Libraries
Music libraries are companies that hire different composers to make affordable music for any type of productions. So if there is a show that requires a pop song but cannot afford a track from Rihanna, for example, they go to such libraries for licensing a similar sounding song. It is not only affordable but also convenient because these libraries have access to both sync and masters. In the modern-day, these companies are licensing songs from a number of musicians instead of hiring composers to create a catalogue.
5. Target Music Editors
While a supervisor may seem like the person to go to, it is the editor who does the main job of physically placing music in the shows. It's super important for editors to have your music in hand while they are testing it as you might have a better chance of getting it placed. It gives you a golden chance to turn it into a business relationship as some of the editors can even call you personally in the future for composing any number of songs. The best way to connect with an editor is by phone and see if they are willing to license music from independent artists. The same goes for production facilities and supervisors as they also have the authority to drop a track at the last minute if it doesn't go well with a scene. The key to having your music placed in their production is for them to be able to access it easily.