Looking for a way to make some money from your music? We all know streams pay barely anything and it can be difficult to pay your bills from merch/ticket sales especially if you have a smaller fan base. Let’s be honest, as music creators we really don’t like playing the sales person role. What if I told you there’s a way to bring in money for your music that doesn’t require begging your friends, family and fans to spend money with you? Let’s talk about synchronization licensing BKA “sync.”
A synchronization license, commonly shortened to ”sync,” generally refers to a legal agreement between the copyright owner of a piece of music and the party seeking to use that music, which permits the synchronization of copyrighted music to any other type of content (mainly visual content, although certain types of audio-usage require sync licenses as well).
Now that we have the technical definition out of the way, I can shorten it. Sync is basically the process of getting music placed to picture – typically for a tv show or film. I quit my job as a software engineer in 2019 to run my music production business full time. In the past year, sync has become my main source of income. I’ve had music placed with CBS, ESPN, HBO, PrimeVideo, Nickelodeon and more! I’ve even done music for advertisements with Got Milk, Tik Tok and Estrella Jalisco. All of which, I’ve gotten paid for! (Anywhere from $150 –$10,000+ per placement).
When I first started, I didn’t have anyone giving me advice on how to get into sync so I had to figure everything out on my own. I wish I would have had access to the article I’m writing now for you. For the sake of brevity, I’m just going to list out some quick tips for you. If you need further explanation or have more questions feel free to book a consultation with me through my website and I’ll be glad to chat with you! You can also check out my short film “Sync or Swim” to learn more about how I got into sync licensing. Okay. Let’s get into it!
Sync is a great way to get paid for your music – On the front end and back end!
- Artists – You don’t have to be major or known to get sync placements!!
- Producers – a lot of shows are looking for instrumental music so you don’t need to have songs with vocals to be valuable in the sync world.
- There are always a bunch of shows/movies being produced and THEY ALL NEED MUSIC!
Your music must be 100% original!!!
Music supervisors (the people who choose what songs to place for sync) do not want to go through unnecessary clearances. That means, no samples in your beats! That also means it’s better to be an independent music creator – as opposed to being signed.
Split sheets are key!
Make sure all of your song splits are documented and registered with your PRO (ie: ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, etc) – this is how to ensure you get paid on the backend.
- Everyone involved in the creation of the song must sign off on the split sheet.
- Each person involved should have 2 accounts with their PRO. A creator account and a publishing account. You can link them together.
The less people involved in a song the better. Remember, music supervisors do not want to go through a bunch of clearances. Typically, everyone involved on the splits of a song will have to sign off on the sync agreement in order for it to get placed. Obviously, this process is a lot smoother if there are only a couple people involved. (Ie: Just the artist and the producer)
You must own 100% of the music amongst the parties involved!
Artists, if you are leasing beats or using beats from youtube, YOU CAN NOT SUBMIT THOSE SONGS FOR SYNC PLACEMENTS. This is because you do not own the beat.
Even if you purchase the beat exclusively, depending on the agreement you sign with the producer – you still do not own the beat. You just have the exclusive right to use it. Therefore, you will have to have the producer sign off on any sync agreements to get a song placed. The industry standard is that the producer will be entitled to 50% of the split – unless you agree to something different.
Therefore, I’d highly suggest finding a producer who is also interested in getting sync placements and building a catalog of music with them to pitch for sync.
Make Easily “Sync-able” Music Lyrically
Keep the lyrics general so they can appeal to a broader range of shows/scenes. Don’t put your name in the music or be too specific about a situation. Write from a place of feeling as opposed to detailed events. For example, write about the feeling of heartbreak in general as opposed to what your significant other did to you specifically to break your heart. Everyone can relate to a feeling – not everyone can relate to your specific situation.
Disco is an amazing platform which allows you to upload, store and organize all of your music. You can have your metadata, genre, bpm, lyrics, split info, etc all stored as apart of the track. This is helpful because music supervisors will automatically be able to access this info when you send them a disco link. You can also create playlists of your music within disco to keep it organized. (For example, hip hop playlist, pop playlist, drama playlist, etc.)
Research Music Supervisors
Music Supervisors are always listed in the credits at the end of a show. You can go to IMDB.com and search for a specific show and look at the cast/crew list to find music supervisors. You can check social media and LinkedIn as well. Once you find them, check for their website and see if they have a submission process.
Research Music Libraries/Catalogs
Some supervisors go to libraries/catalogs to pull music to use for their projects. If you have music in a library/catalog then you have an opportunity to get placed. Nonexclusive libraries/catalogs allow you to have your music in their library and others. Exclusive libraries/catalogs only allow you to have your song in their library alone.
Be sure to read the terms of the agreement before allowing your music to be in a library/catalog to make sure it’s right for you. Here are a few you can start with…
Again, if you have questions feel free to book a consultation with me through my website and I’ll be glad to chat with you! You can also check out my short film “Sync or Swim” to learn more about how I got into sync licensing. Lastly, follow me on Instagram where I also give out sync tips!