Sync Licensing Advice From Hitcher Music

Here is something we can all agree on: historic forms of income like record sales for songwriters and artists are not what they used to be. There’s a new money maker in town: sync licensing. Songwriters can make some serious BANK from the placement of music in films, television programs, advertising campaigns, and video games. We sat down with Chase Misenheimer of Hitcher Music to learn about the latest developments and trends in sync licensing, the biggest misconception artists have when dealing with a licensing company, tips for approaching sync licensing, and more.

Hi Chase, thanks for joining our series. Can you tell us a little about yourself? How long have you been in music publishing?

Thanks for having me! I went to Belmont University in Nashville to study the music business. From there I moved to New York and worked at the ad agency mcgarrybowen as a music producer/supervisor. After about five years there, I switched sides to licensing over here at Hitcher. I also like to play drums in my spare time and pretend I’m good at it.

What services does Hitcher offer artists and what are some of the benefits of working with a boutique firm like Hitcher?

Hitcher is in a unique position. We are privileged to exclusively represent the award-winning songwriters and artists at PULSE, which as a boutique firm is a great asset being able to represent recognizable hit songs known worldwide. We also represent 300 Entertainment’s diverse roster, and we take on several other independent labels, artists, and producers. Our goal is simple: to find the right opportunities for our artists across all media for each and every one of our clients. We’ll send out your newest album and we’ll invite key supervisors to your shows. We’ll send you customized briefs for new songs, and we’ll blast your cool new placement out on our social media accounts. Above all, it’s a relationship business and we get out there to make it happen and work directly with you to make it happen.

Can you give some background on ReverbNation’s strategic relationship with Hitcher?

Our partners are giving us great music to pitch 24/7, but we’re always on the hunt for more! Tapping into ReverbNation through the opportunities we run affords us the chance to find hidden gems or hot risers which gives us even more great music to give to our clients. We know there are fantastic musicians everywhere and we feel ReverbNation has the resources to help us find them.

Find dozens of licensing opportunities exclusive to ReverbNation today

How do you enlist artists to your roster?

We’re a tight team over here and everyone’s opinion matters. Whether Pulse is courting a new signing or an independent band is looking for representation, we carefully consider what’s being brought to the table and how we feel we can strategically find the right spots for the music. If the shoe fits, we put it on.

With the music industry being highly competitive and record sales dropping, music licensing has become a critical revenue stream for artists, labels, and publishers. How has music licensing shaped the current music industry and where do you foresee it going?

As you no doubt know by looking at your Netflix queue (do they still even use that term anymore??), we are in a time of overabundant media. There are shows and films and ads and content everywhere you look. There has never been more ground to cover and more spots to place a track. It’s a fun way to be heard: matching a song with a key plot point or montage or :30 commercial can help launch a career or merely bolster a few more download sales. Sometimes an artist will be shopping around for a publishing deal and if they’re on How To Get Away With Murder the week before the meeting, well, that’s just another talking point to get the deal done. As radio seems to continue it’s downward trend, it’s a way to find a measurable, tangible audience. Also, the vast majority of this content will be around and discoverable for years and years. If you don’t make a huge splash on the radio, that avenue is closed. But my aunt could be watching Gilmore Girls in seven years from now and hear your song and become a fan. That longevity is vital for an artist’s career.

What are some of the latest developments and trends in sync licensing strategy and monetization?

While there are many places to find a sync, some have smaller fees. That’s ok, though. We’re seeing more and more that networks, brands, etc. are willing to offer promotion in some other way. Maybe that’s a chyron with the title and artist in the bottom corner or maybe it’s a tweet with a link to your Spotify page. These things are negotiable and we keep an eye out for it.

What’s the biggest misconception artists have when signing a deal with a licensing company?

If you sign a deal, don’t be upset if the synchs don’t immediately start rolling in. It takes time to set up the right strategy to get your music into the right ears. Trust us: we are here for you! We know what works and we know how to get it out there, sometimes it takes that perfect brief to come along. Also, as the resident advertising guy: commercial budgets can be all over the place. Many think a commercial equals a six-figure payday and that’s certainly not the truth! Advertisers’ budgets are spread out now across all medias and platforms, and while we fight for every dollar we can, sometimes the payment won’t get you that new house. But I always like to say once it’s out there, that can bring other opportunities. I pitched The Lumineers and Imagine Dragons all day to creatives at my ad agency and no one bit until they heard them on other spots!

What are the pros and cons of doing an exclusive deal over a non-exclusive deal with a licensing company?

I think you have to assess your situation and see what sounds best to you. Signing up for all sorts of non-exclusive services can be a way to “set it and forget it” and maximize your chances. Those libraries can find you all sorts of synchs you never imagined existed. If synch is merely a perk and not a non-negotiable, then that can be the way to go. But I think exclusive deals are right for artists that are really making a go of their career. You’ll get the attention and know that the only people that have your music are the people that are dedicated to getting you the right synchs. Also supervisors have very little time and work fast; we’re talking seeking approvals on a song in only a couple of hours. If they’re chasing down a track that’s non-exclusive across three different companies that pitched it, it can slow them down. Knowing exactly who to go to can make the deal happen quickly and efficiently.

Can you give us some of your top tips and suggestions on how an artist should approach sync licensing?

One question we always ask new artists is, “Where do you think your music would be a good fit?” Coming in with knowledge of what shows or brands are using what sounds helps us zero in as well. We already have ideas in mind, but we want to hear from you! Also if I was an artist (and remember this is me): I would take every synch that came through. As mentioned above, they can stack. You think of examples like Martin Solveig’s “Hello” where it was used in promos then commercials then trailers. The first fee might not have been a huge one, and if the artist declined the use for that reason, the song might not have spread as wide as it did and then you’ve lost out on those subsequent synchs. While the money might not be oodles of cash, you never know just who might be listening.

DaveSync Licensing Advice From Hitcher Music

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  • Joshua - June 1, 2017 reply

    Nice, informative article. Thanks.

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