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.