Our third and final part to our rights management series hones in on sync. What is sync licensing, and in particular, sync?
‘Sync’ is short for ‘synchronization.’ When you’re talking about synchronization licensing in the music business, synchronization refers to the act of synchronizing a piece of music with any form of visual media—movies, TV episodes, commercials, video games, etc. Licensing refers to the act of getting the rights to use the music. Music supervisors on film, TV, commercial, gaming and trailer projects must ask the rights holders of song(s) for permission to use the music in their projects. They have to get permission from all owners of a song: 1) The Master (or sound recording) owners, and 2) The “publishing” owners, which refers to the owners of the underlying musical composition. The music supervisors will ultimately need to obtain two licenses to use the song in their visual media project: 1) A “Master Use License” is required to use the master recording in coordination with the visual media, and 2) A “Synchronization License” to use the underlying musical composition in coordination with the visual media.
In terms of how Symphonic works in this field, we have relationships with music supervisors, advertising agencies, film companies, and tv networks all of which receive consistent notices of songs that are represented by our brand. We’ve been fortunate to earn clients thousands of dollars and placements across HBO, ABC, Fox, and other major USA and International networks.
If you are unsure about what a music supervisor is, basically, a music supervisor is a professional hired by a film director, TV network, video game, TV production company and the like. Music supervisors are hired to manage the creative selection of music and the licensing of all the songs placed in their visual media projects. Music supervisors work hand in hand with the film/TV/trailer/commercial/video game directors. Though music supervisors are in charge of seeking out the music for a project, it is ultimately up to the film director or the head of the project which songs actually get used.
Once you get picked up for a placement, you may have an advance, and backend royalties. Typically advances are paid out directly but backend royalties would then be paid out to the societies you are registered (a further reasoning why if you are interested in getting your material to be on commercials and/or films, it is key that you have your songs registered).
One of the most important things that someone has to now realize about Sync Licensing is that you need to ensure each and every sample is fully cleared. If you have any samples that aren’t or that you are unaware of, it could potentially create a lot of legal problems. Further, It’s recommended that you have instrumentals of your songs and are as available as possible. Make yourself available, reliable, and check your email and phone frequently. That’s not exactly rocket science but deals can be lost if you as an artist or record label are not around for approval of a particular work.
Our service works as a one-stop, so we have the clearance to approve or deny which ends up saving a lot of paperwork. Often times we go for deals that we feel will be beneficial for the label or artist that’s related and we’ve seen great success that further increases downloads, streams, ugc, and rights related revenue.
In case you were wondering, placements will differ based on the popularity of the artist. Someone like Skrillex can potentially make upwards of $200,000 for a film trailer while a new artist may make anywhere from $5,000 to $30,000. It all varies on how prominently the song will be featured in a scene, film, trailer, etc. But regardless, this represents an area of the industry that has helped to make many artists and turn them into household names.
Hopefully by now you realize the importance of registering your songs in societies and realize how close it is to Sync Licensing and additional opportunities. Hope this helps!