Music Industry

Sync for Singers | What is a Music Supervisor?

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Music supervisors and sync are really important for singers. As well as helping to make more money, music supervisors can help build a platform for you as an artist and help you to become recognised in the music industry. For some artists, it has really shaped their career.  

To get involved in sync, singers just need to take the right steps by making a good quality track and selling it to the right people. Find music supervisors and make it easy for them to listen to your track. If you can get a deal then it could be a real money-spinner. 

Synchronisation has become another way for artists to make money. It’s a good opportunity for singers to throw themselves into the limelight using the power of the moving picture. 

What is sync?

what is a music supervisor

Synchronisation in the music industry is a process by which music is used alongside a moving picture such as a television show, an advert, a film or a video game. Anyone who wants to use a song for a moving picture needs to gain permission from the songwriter or producer of the song using a Sync Licence. 

It’s important in the music industry because for many artists, it helps them to make their big break. By having their music attached to a visual platform, audiences begin to recognise the music and associate it with them and that song and it can open it up to a wider audience.

It has helped many new and established artists create a bigger awareness of their music. 

Now, it is one of the most important income streams for artists, especially if you are just starting out in the industry. Particularly in recent years, as the sale of CD’s has declined and streaming services have become more popular. 

How does sync make artists money?

Adverts are a great way to get an artist’s name out there. Christmas time is an ideal time for this, especially when the big department stores and supermarkets get their advertising campaigns out onto our television screens.  

John Lewis is a prime example. Each year people look forward to the advert that will inevitably pull at the heartstrings. In 2013, Lily Allen covered Keane’s Somewhere Only We Know. Ok, so it was a cover. But it became a huge hit and now, it’s often played by radio stations at Christmas time because people associate it with Christmas.

The next year it was Tom Odell’s cover of John Lennon’s Real Love. In 2016, Norwegian artist Aurora covered Oasis’ Half the World Away.

Yes, these are all covers. But they are all songs that did well in the charts as the result of advertising campaigns. 

Syncing isn’t just beneficial for the singer in question. It’s beneficial for the entire music industry. It shows the power of a song and the success of a song in an advertising campaign or in a film can bring in sync licensing royalties for the record company. It also helps build a good reputation for that company.

Syncing is a good way to get an upfront fee and a performance royalty as well as a guaranteed bonus. 

A sync to remember 

Another good factor about syncing is that it could benefit you as an artist years down the line. You could find that in five years time, a track that you recorded at the beginning of the career is perfect for a new advert for one of the world’s favourite brands of gin, or for a new blockbuster movie.  

A great example is Australian duo Empire of the Sun whose single We Are The People appeared in a German Vodafone advert and went to the top of the charts in Germany. Then eight years later, another track from the same album appeared in a Honda advert which promoted a re-release that sold that more than a million copies. It reached the top of the Billboard dance chart in the US. 

So, even if you don’t get a sync deal now, doesn’t mean that you won’t in years to come. It could bring in a lot of extra money for you. 

What is a music supervisor?

A music supervisor is responsible for putting together music with a moving picture. They act as mediators between production teams and composers and their teams. That could include engineers, copyists, musician’s contractors or orchestrators. They also suggest ideas for music and do research as well as obtaining the rights to source the music.

A music supervisor is responsible for organising and arranging the budgets for music requirements. They check synchronization issues during on-camera performances. Music supervisors also negotiate deal points and contracts, prepare budgets and attend scheduling meetings and spotting sessions.

Before you contact music supervisors

The first and most important step is to make sure your music is going to attract attention. Make sure you have a good quality recording that you are confident will sell when you pitch it. Is it going to be of a high enough production standard to be used for syncing?

If it isn’t then put the work in to ensure that it is. If you’re getting into the music industry, you want to ensure you have the quality to succeed.

Make sure you have an instrumental version of your song. You should do this with all your music. Many producers and directors will be looking for lyricless songs that will make their product or film or show stand out. It’s not too much effort for you and it could make you a lot of money in the long run. 

Next, make sure you have got all the metadata on your MP3 so that when a producer opens your file and plays it, all the relevant and important information about the track (including how to contact you) comes up. If you haven’t got that bit right, it’s likely the listener will lose interest straight away. It needs to be easy for them. Alongside the metadata, of equal importance is copyright. In order to enable your music to be synced anywhere, both the master copyright and the publishing copyright must be cleared. Make sure each of them can make contact with each other. 

How do you find music supervisors?

The next step is about doing your research. You need to make contact with people who can represent artists and make contact with music supervisors. These will usually be music sync licensing agencies who can represent you.

First impressions are really important at this stage. If you get it wrong at the first stage, you are very unlikely to get a second chance.

Tell them why your track is good enough to be used in synchronisation. Sell yourself as an artist by telling them who else likes your music. Who in the music industry values your talents? Have you had radio airplay? Has your music featured on blogs? Where have you performed? Has your music been synced before? What recognition do you have in the music industry that could benefit you? All of this is vital information that is likely to be key to helping you break into the synchronisation market.

If you’ve got this far, well done. It’s a long process but it could be hugely beneficial not just to line your pockets as you look to break into the industry, but also, more importantly, to help get your name out in the public domain.

The next step is to be patient. The music industry is competitive and syncs can take a long time. Sometimes artists might wait for years but then when it all comes in, you could find you are making more money than you have in your career so far.

What happens next?

 What is a Music Supervisor?

When you finally get that call or the email lands in your inbox confirming your track will be featured on a television show or on an advert, now is the chance to plug it as best as you can. Get on your social media and share a link if you can. Put your song on SoundCloud and add in ‘as featured on’ to give it an extra boost.

The worst thing you could do at this stage would be to sit back and miss out on further exposure. Certain syncs could be the gift that keeps on giving if you handle it correctly. You need to ensure that it has the best exposure possible and you could do that with very little effort.

Also, the competitive nature of syncs has meant that some of the less established artists have to accept lower fees. If you are just starting out and you want to get more attention then it could be worth it in the long run as it could put your music in front of millions of people. Imagine what it could do to your career – it could be a huge success for you.

How much does a sync licence cost?

Put simply, a synchronisation licence is an agreement between a music user and the owner of a copyrighted song. The licence pays a royalty to the owner of the song. It will likely be a one time fee and can vary depending on what the licence will be used for.

The money made from sync fees could be a small amount up to thousands of pounds. It’s based on the prominence of the artists and the song, how it is used and what material the song will be used in. For example, you will be paid more for a song that is played in a big motion picture than for one used in a YouTube video. The composer has a say – an artist who has made their name in the music world already will demand a higher fee than an artist who is just starting to break into the industry.

Another factor which will affect the amount you earn is whether or not you are selling the song directly, or if you are working through a third party. Any service helping you to sell the song will obviously take a slice of the profits as well.

Sync licensing vs master licensing

There are different types of licences which can make it very confusing, particularly if you are just starting out in the industry. What’s the difference? Do your research, and you could find your track is a real money spinner.

A sync licence is the most popular licence and is especially good for emerging artists. This is recognised as an agreement between a licensee and the copyright holder to use the song in a moving picture.

A master licence is also a common licence but in this case, an agreement is made between the owner of the master recording (such as a record label or record company) and the person who wants to use the song. Again, it gives permission to use your work in a moving picture.

As the mastered recording is usually owned by record labels, they tend to control all the licensing agreements. There tend to be no negotiations.

Ready to sync?

Above all, just keep the faith. Syncing is a really good way to make extra money but in the meantime, you can carry on with your music career. Keep singing, recording and performing as much as you can.

By now, you should have a strong understanding of synchronisation and why it is so important for singers – especially if you are just starting out in the music industry.

Has one of your tracks been synced in the past? How did you go about it? Where was it featured? Share your advice and give some suggestions to help others below.