5 Questions: Josh Rabinowitz of Grey Advertising on Sync Licensing

Over the past decade, sync licensing has established itself as a reliable source of income for emerging artists. Once the domain of only top-level performers, now artists at all levels are finding success with licensing. In addition to touring, merchandising, and album sales, sync licensing can boost your revenue on a consistent basis. And in today’s digital world, sync licensing is no longer only relegated to film and TV. Artists are placing music across a variety of platforms and devices, including video games, eBooks, and more.

But as attractive as licensing can be for an independent artist, it’s not the easiest realm to navigate. If you’re thinking about getting into this new arena, questions can begin to pile up. To help with that, we spoke to Josh Rabinowitz of New York City-based advertising agency, Grey, who are currently running two licensing opportunities with ReverbNation. Check out some of the helpful advice Joshua gave us, and then be sure to submit your music!

ReverbNation: Can you briefly explain how sync licensing works for TV, film, video games, etc?

Josh Rabinowitz: In advertising, we generally license music from rights holders (like publishers and labels), and at times from unsigned artists. We provide what the “use” would be (e.g. TV, all media, Internet only, etc.), the term (3 months, 6 weeks, 1 year, etc.) and the territory (US only, Regional, Global, Western Europe, etc.). We then negotiate a fair and reasonable deal based on the market rate of a particular track.

The creative aspect involves several collaborators including creative directors, copywriters, art directors, and more, offering their opinions as a spot or campaign is in development. The music producer or supervisor harnesses and guides this collaborative process and oversees the financial and rights negotiations.

What do you normally look for in an artist when searching for music? Are the common traits to each band, or does it differ radically from project to project?  

It’s a radical shift from project to project.  Much of what we do is create music specifically for each spot, which involves composers. And of course, much of what we do is finding an existing track that works. When working with a strict budget, we often utilize various library sources to fulfill our needs.

Why should an artist care about getting involved in sync licensing?  

It’s a decent revenue stream, with good upfront fees and the royalties can add up. The exposure may be the greatest value of all – a huge media presence with a great spot and brand can be a game-changer for an artist.

What can an artist do to improve their chances of being selected by a music supervisor?

By submitting music that is completely “on brief”** and understanding that we have limited time to listen to every piece of music submitted. Putting your best musical foot forward, simply and to the point, is very user-friendly to a music supervisor for sure.

Are there any turn-offs in an artist that make you less likely to use their music? 

Artists who do not take the time to understand the creative needs of a particular licensing request are not doing themselves any favors with a music supervisor. Take a moment and understand what the supervisor is looking for, and if your music is not relevant tot their needs, don’t submit your music.

**A “brief” is an agreement or contract between an advertising agency and a client that outlines the objectives of a campaign, estimate cost, targeted audience, and other factors.

Help create the soundtrack for a LongHorn national advertising campaign HERE

Create a new, modern version of the iconic Folgers Coffee jingle HERE

Sam5 Questions: Josh Rabinowitz of Grey Advertising on Sync Licensing
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5 Questions: Brian Ball of Ernie Ball & The Warped Tour

Since 1995, the Warped Tour has showcased not only some of the biggest names in punk and rock, but they’ve also created a platform for up-and-coming artists to get exposed to larger audiences. In fact, many consider The Warped Tour to be the first festival to bring artists like Blink-182, New Found Glory, and Katy Perry into the national spotlight.

In keeping with that tradition, The Warped Tour and Ernie Ball are working with ReverbNation for the fifth year to present a battle of the bands-style competition in which unsigned, independent artists compete for a two-week tour spot on this year’s Warped Tour.

We spoke with Brian Ball (grandson of the legendary Ernie Ball and the company’s current President) about the current festival landscape and how bands can improve their chances of being selected for opportunities, among other topics. Check out some of the highlights below:

ReverbNation: The number of festivals in the US has grown exponentially in the past few years — how does The Warped Tour stay relevant in this new festival culture?

Brian Ball: Not only has Warped Tour remained relevant in continuously booking breaking bands, but they’ve also managed to keep the value incredibly high. It’s mind boggling to me how expensive some of the newer festivals can be. Kevin Lyman (founder of Warped Tour) has done an amazing job at maximizing value, and allowing festivalgoers to be able to buy merch, water, food, etc., without breaking the bank.

What are some of the things you look for when narrowing your selections? Is it purely based on the music, or do the artist’s photos, videos, and profile stats play into your decision?

Songwriting is almost everything to me — does the band have dynamics? Are they trying to create their own voice or just follow trends? Second to that is the band’s appeal in their regional/local market — do they promote their shows and engage with fans online? Are they treating their band as a career or more as a hobby?

What is one of the most common mistakes you see with up-and-coming artists these days?

A big mistake is putting promotion and social media presence before songwriting and musicianship. We’re in a time where instant forms of promotion and communication have never been better, but I think they can also hold bands back from what’s most important — their music.

Is there any aspect of an artist’s profile/submission that tends to catch your eye more than others?

The first thing I look for in a profile is if they have live videos in addition to songs. That’s one element that shows me the band treats their art more as a lifestyle than a hobby. It also gives us the ability to see how much modern recording equipment (Pro Tools, Auto-Tune, etc.) goes into making the band sound great.

After an artist has been booked for a show or festival slot, what is the responsibility as far as promotion is concerned? Have you seen certain tactics work better than others?

Drawing a good crowd at any show or festival can be tough, so it’s vital that they promote prior to the show online, and even offer promotions to those that come see the show. Some bands have chosen to give fans their two free passes and hold a contest prior to the show to help them promote. Also, the bands that do the best at The Warped Tour show early and come with signs and headphones offering attendees in line the chance to check their music out. That can easily turn the show into having 50-100 people in front of the stage, to having 200+.

Key Takeaways:

  • Focus on songwriting first, promotion second
  • Include live videos on your press kit at all times
  • Get creative with your show promotion with contests, giveaways, etc.
  • A festival spot isn’t just another show — promote yourself throughout the festival, not just during your set

Don’t miss your chance to play The Warped Tour 2015:


Sam5 Questions: Brian Ball of Ernie Ball & The Warped Tour
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Summerfest and ReverbNation align to Launch Free Artist Submission Platform for “The World’s Largest Music Festival” in 2015

DURHAM, North Carolina – Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. and ReverbNation today announced a three-year agreement commencing with Summerfest 2015.  This strategic alliance makes ReverbNation the exclusive online submission platform for musical artists interested in performing at Summerfest, “The World’s Largest Music Festival.”

Started in 1968, Summerfest has joined together the music industry’s hottest stars, emerging talent and local favorites with approximately 900,000 people from Milwaukee and around the world. Set along the shores of Lake Michigan, over 800 acts give over 1,000 performances across the 11-day festival performing music spanning all genres, from alternative rock to country, R&B, Top 40, classic rock, reggae and everything in between.  Artists that would like the chance to perform at Summerfest can submit at ReverbNation.com now through March 31, 2015 for FREE.

ShellySummerfest and ReverbNation align to Launch Free Artist Submission Platform for “The World’s Largest Music Festival” in 2015
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Hard Rock Rising 2015 — The Global Battle of the Bands Returns to ReverbNation

Last year, over 9,000 Artists from 70 countries competed to perform in front of 40,000 fans in Rome, Italy. Seattle’s Joyfield ended up taking home the grand prize after being hand-selected from the final round of 25 global Artists. Hard Rock Rising 2014 was a huge event for Artists across the world, so we are excited to announce that Hard Rock Rising is coming back for another round.

You can now enter for a chance to play the main stage of Hard Rock Rising 2015 in Barcelona, Spain. With more than 85 cafes participating worldwide, Artists from all corners of the globe will have a chance to compete for top honors. Best of all, submission is FREE.

SamHard Rock Rising 2015 — The Global Battle of the Bands Returns to ReverbNation
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Belk Southern Musician Showcase Winner Jackie Venson: Why The Summer Tour Was ‘Like a Fantasy’

Jackie Venson may be young, but she’s already got years of music experience behind her. The up-and-coming multi-instrumentalist started her musical career as a classically trained pianist, then moved onto guitar and songwriting. Venson’s soulful, bluesy sensibilities recently received some well-deserved attention. She won the Belk Southern Musician Showcase and earned a spot on the Belk Summer Tour.

Music journalist Schuyler Rooth asked Jackie a few questions about the experience of winning such an honorable performance opportunity. Fresh from the excitement of the Belk Summer Tour and from releasing her latest album, “The Light In Me,” Jackie expressed her gratitude about winning, her fans’ reactions, and the jumping off point this win has afforded her career.

So how has this experience with Belk affected your career?

Winning this opportunity has really flipped everything on its back. I’ve been exposed to different Artists’ careers and what different aspects of the music industry look and feel like. I’ve been able to add big names to my resume, which has landed me a ton of other opportunities. I have also partnered with Belk, and they continue to give me new opportunities. It has been life and career changing.

SamBelk Southern Musician Showcase Winner Jackie Venson: Why The Summer Tour Was ‘Like a Fantasy’
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Announcing the #1TakeCovers Results

ReverbNation, in partnership with We Are The Hits, launched the #1TakeCovers video competition in early July to give our Artist community a chance to put their unique spin on a popular song. Artists were asked to choose from a list of 20 pre-approved songs and film their interpretation of the song in one continuous take.

Our panel of experts and tastemakers reviewed every submission. Then, the videos were judged on originality, performance, and quality of fan engagement through social media to determine the final results.

SamAnnouncing the #1TakeCovers Results
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High School Nation: Exposing you to the one demographic you can’t afford to ignore


If you’re an artist who plays frequent shows both in your hometown and on tour, chances are you’re mostly playing to a 21+ age group. And usually, this is a good thing for a performer — this demographic tends to have more disposable income and is more likely to help run up your end-of-the-night payout with bar sales.

But by default, many artists end up overlooking a demographic that, according to a recent study by Nielsen, contains some of the most dedicated music fans — teenagers.

Nielsen’s study confirmed that 54% of teen concert attendees purchase t-shirts and merchandise [source]. Similarly, 51% of teens have purchased some kind of music (download, CD, etc.) in the last year [source]. These numbers are far above the national average, as well as being higher than any other age demographic.


Founder Jimmy Cantillon

So how do you get a foothold in this often overlooked but highly invested demographic? A good place to start is with this year’s High School Nation (HSN) tour. We spoke with founder Jimmy Cantillon about the festival’s inception and its benefits for the artists who participate:

SamHigh School Nation: Exposing you to the one demographic you can’t afford to ignore
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Opportunities On Tap: Pepsi Gulf Coast Jam, College News Magazine, WXOU college radio, and Temecula Valley International Film Festival

Check out a sample of the opportunities we have going on this week:


Gulf Coast Jam


Location: Multiple Available

Genre: All

This year’s Southern Original Competition will be selecting 100 ReverbNation bands who will compete for 10 spots at the official Pepsi Gulf Coast Jam. Artists in ten different cities will have the chance to play their way to the main stage at the festival, where one finalist will open for Warner Music Nashville recording artist and judge of The Voice, Blake Shelton. The grand prize also includes recording time, a music video shoot, and three days hotel accommodations.

Submit today to play your way onto the main stage.

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SamOpportunities On Tap: Pepsi Gulf Coast Jam, College News Magazine, WXOU college radio, and Temecula Valley International Film Festival
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