The future of music

What Is Sync Licensing? How to Get Your Music in Movies & TV

May 30, 2023
what is sync licensing

If you’re an independent musician or producer, tapping into the sync licensing revenue might be a great idea.

If you manage to get your music in TV shows, movies, and commercials, you would undoubtedly get more money as well as more exposure. 

But what is sync licensing, how does it really work, and why do you need a sync license?

We’ll tackle all of these questions in today’s post, and we will take you through your first steps of landing a music sync deal.

What Is Sync Licensing?

Sync licensing (or synchronization licensing) refers to all the music used in TV shows, movies, advertisements, video games, and other audiovisual content.

So if you license your music, you would give a third party (a brand or a company) permission to use your music in their content. 

Generally, a sync license refers to a legal agreement between the copyright owner and a person who wants to use that piece of music. 

This is just one of the music licenses, along with public performance licenses, master licenses, and so on. 

But landing a music sync deal is arguably one of the best ways to get your music heard and earn royalties from your work in an easy way.

If you manage to get a good music sync deal, you would be generating money without actually doing anything.

Depending on your licensing contract, there’s even a possibility to earn money for many years to come.

A glass with Plant and coins

Of course, if you want to land a good music sync deal, you have to produce high-quality music.

Many sync licensing companies search for talented songwriters and producers and pitch their music to music supervisors and media buyers.

And if your music is good, they can help you get it licensed for popular TV shows, movies, and video games. 

The best music sync licensing companies work with big names such as Netflix, Universal, Dreamworks, Amazon, Disney, and so on.

But how does that really work, and how much can you make from music sync licensing?

How Does Music Sync Licensing Work?

In essence, a sync license gives brands, companies, and creators permission to use a certain piece of music in their content.

And when it comes to the process itself, music supervisors usually provide briefs to music publishers based on their client’s wishes.

Publishers then go through their roster of artists, look for a track that meets their client’s needs, and pitch a certain piece of music they believe best suits their creative brief.

Now, exact terms of usage depend on a specific contract, and there isn’t a standard sync fee. 

So how much you’re going to earn if someone picks your music varies a lot and it depends on a number of factors, including:

  • Type of visual media
  • Duration of the usage
  • The budget for the production
  • The length of the song/audio
  • The region of use

However, there’s usually a flat fee paid for the sync license.

And you can earn anything from $100 to $10,000 for one placement. 

But if there’s a big production company involved, you can get quite a lot of money for one-time use of your music in a TV show or film.

Person Chillin while watching TV

To try to get their music licensed, many indie artists also reach out to sync licensing companies.

Music sync licensing companies can get your music into TV shows, movie soundtracks, video games, and ads, and some of them work with the world’s biggest brands. 

In most cases, you can simply sign up, submit your music, and wait for their response.

And if you meet the requirements of the platform, your music will be added to their music library where creators can search for songs, sounds, and jingles for their audiovisual projects.

Each music sync licensing platform has its own rules and features though, so you should conduct thorough research before submitting your music. 

Nevertheless, finding a good licensing platform is a great way to get things started.

What Kind of Music Is Good for Sync Licensing? 

When thinking about submitting their music to sync licensing companies, many artists wonder if their music is “right” for this.

But the truth is, music catalogs are usually huge and versatile, and they include a variety of genres and styles. 

So if you’re wondering what type of music is good for sync licensing, the short answer is every kind of music.

However, you should learn more about the platform you’re interested in before submitting your music. 

But the bottom line is, you can license your music regardless of your genre.

Music is used in all kinds of commercials, videos, movies, and TV shows, so you never know if someone will need exactly what you offer.

How to Land a Music Sync Deal

Music licensing can be a hard market to get into, but if you approach it in the right way, you will increase your chances for success.

And success in this field can be quite sweet – sync licensing is indeed one of the most lucrative revenues for independent artists.

Plus, sync licensing can introduce your music to millions of people.

So, how do artists get a music sync deal, and what is the best way to license your music? 

A man using headphone and laptop

There are different ways you can get a sync placement.

You can find a sync library explicitly looking for new producers or apply to specific pitch requests.

You can also find a good sync licensing company that will pitch your music to their clients.

When adding music to a sync catalog or working with a sync licensing agency, artists are sometimes asked to grant the right to negotiate a sync deal on their behalf.

In other words, you might be asked to “pre-clear” the permissions. 

But there’s also a way to prepare your track for sync placements.

For instance, you should think about clearing the following licenses:

  • The master copyright – this covers the sound recording (or master recording) and it’s normally held by artists or their record label
  • The publishing copyright – this covers the song’s composition and it can be owned by a songwriter or a publisher 

If someone wants to use your music, they have to pay to license both the master recording rights and the composition rights.

Furthermore, you should familiarize yourself with metadata – learn more about what music metadata usually entails, such as artist name, producer, song title, release date, duration, genre, and so on.

And you should consider joining a collection society.

Collection societies protect, register, license, and collect royalties for their members’ works, and there are many ways you can register. 

All in all, landing a music sync deal can seem intimidating, but if you keep all of these things in mind, you’ll probably manage to do it sooner than you think.

Sync licensing platforms and publishers seek new artists all the time, and with a bunch of new TV shows, movies, and videos made every day, music for sync is always in demand. 

Finding a Music Sync Licensing Company 

Submitting your music to a sync licensing company is probably the easiest way to get your music in TV and film. 

However, it’s also important to find a reliable licensing platform that meets your needs.

And which company you should opt for depends on your goals, abilities, and genre. 

Some platforms are known for selling beats so they’re ideal for producers while others work with clients in TV and film so they’re looking for talented composers and songwriters. 

But some big licensing platforms accept all kinds of music. 

Either way, you should learn more about their features, pricing plans, and collaborations before submitting your music. 

You can also try to find out what people say about the platform (both clients and artists) and discover what types of brands and companies they normally work with. 

Finally, don’t forget to check if the company is accepting submissions at the moment. 

How to Increase Your Chances of Placement 

Honestly, landing an awesome sync deal that will get you a ton of money and millions of new followers is not so easy.

It takes time to figure out how everything works, and the field is quite competitive.

But the good news is, no matter what your genre is, there’s a sync licensing need for your music. 

That said, you should focus on the quality of your music and nurture your own unique musical identity.

Don’t try to write something trendy – write something honest and authentic instead. 

That’s arguably the best way to write music that resonates with people.

Also, focus on the production quality – your tracks need to be mixed, mastered, and polished, and they need to meet industry standards.

You can also check out online production courses to improve your skills and gain new knowledge.

And you should learn more about music royalties, copyright, and the details of sync licenses – before embarking on your sync licensing journey, you should know what your rights are. 

Contract Paper on table

Another thing you can do to increase your chances of getting a sync deal is to prepare instrumental mixes or stems.

The thing is, many video creators and TV productions find a piece of music they like but they decide to use an instrumental version instead – therefore, it would be wise to have those mixes ready to go. 

By the way, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to sign your whole catalog up for sync licensing.

Release dates and sales don’t matter in this part of the music business, so don’t be afraid to add some old songs as well.

Finally, if you want to make money from sync licensing, you should try to build a good reputation.

If you’re a singer/songwriter, perform live as much as you can and promote your music online.

Reach out to playlist curators and influencers and create an attractive music website. 

Be active on social media and start a YouTube channel if you already don’t have one. 

You don’t need to be a famous artist or producer to land a sync deal, but making connections, building a strong portfolio, and creating a strong online presence can only increase your chances for success.

What Is Sync Licensing – Final Thoughts 

Music sync licensing refers to the use of music in TV, film, advertisements, trailers, video games, and other visual media.

If you’re an indie artist and you land a good music sync deal, this could be a very lucrative revenue for you.

Plus, you would get a chance to get your music heard by millions. 

And you don’t need to have a huge fan base to get a sync deal – you just need to produce quality music and find a good way to license it.

You may also like: How to Make Money from Music

Will Fenton

Will, the founder of MIDDER, is a multifaceted individual with a deep passion for music and personal finance. As a self-proclaimed music and personal finance geek, he has a keen eye for futuristic technologies, especially those that empower creators and the public.

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