6 things to improve your chances of getting your music synched…
Music synchronisation has long been something artists have had an inherent interest in due to the obvious rewards it offers, mainly the combination of both exposure and cash. Lovely.
It also has a history of successfully breaking artists into the mainstream, if it wasn’t for Levis I would have never discovered Babylon Zoo’s “Spaceman” and the consequences of that aren’t even worth contemplating.
So how do you get your music on the new iPod advert? Or in the Eastenders caff whilst two people have a miserable conversation about their miserable lives? Or on the new Paris Hilton show where she chooses an idiot from a line of idiots to be her new idiotic best friend?.
Well read on my friend and hopefully the following advice will help you on your merry way.
First of all let me just break down some of the lingo I’ll be chucking hither and tither during this post:
Sync (synchronisation) – The act of putting music on top of visuals (TV, Movies, Games, Films, Websites etc) or other audio (Radio adverts etc).
Creatives – The people who work for advertising agencies/production companies who have “the vision” of what they want their final product to look like.
The Client – the brand/company which the product (advert, TV programme, website etc) is being made for and who the creatives are working for
Music Supervisors – the people that look for the track after they’ve been given their direction by the creatives
1) Find people who know what they’re doing and let them worry about it.
Unless the Creatives have your track in mind already and they’re knocking on your door with a briefcase full of cash in one hand and a contract in the other then getting your music under their noses is not the easiest thing to do. So much so that it’s peoples full time jobs to get chummy with music supervisors in order to get the music they’re representing on their radar.
Your best option is to find a sync agent or service (like Sentric Music of course) who’ll be pushing your music on your behalf as they’re the people who’ll be wining and dining the music supervisors whilst slipping them a cheeky sampler CD in-between the fish and soup courses.
Music Supervisor – “Delightful Haddock that”
Sync Agent – “Indeed”
Music Supervisor – “What’s the soup again? Winter Vegetable Melody? I must say it’s awfully nice of you to take me out like this”
Sync Agent – “No worries! Just thought it’d be nice to catch up, and the soup is Leek and Potato I believe… Talking about Leek and Potato soup have you heard this new track we’re representing by (insert Welsh band’s name here)?”
As you can see it’s a fine art that shouldn’t be sniffed at.
DON’T PAY UPFRONT for a service like this. There are a few companies out there that will ask for cash in exchange for submitting your music for advertising campaigns and what not but I’d personally avoid these like the plague. Go for either a publishing service that will push your music for free (like us), wait until a sync agent approaches you due to their love of your music and ask to represent you or wait for a traditional publishing deal to come along. If either of the latter two do happen make sure you seek legal advice before signing anything and remember: copyright is king so always lease and never look to sign over your copyright for an extended period of time.
2) Know who owns your rights and make sure they get on with one another.
In the majority of cases the core readership of this blog will own the copyright to both the master recordings and the songs themselves. If this is the case then you have nothing to worry about as once you’ve given the OK to whoever is pushing your music for sync then no more permission needs to be sought after.
If you have a label you need to make sure they know that there is a publisher pushing your material for synchronisation as permission for the master rights is also essential before any use can be confirmed. With the contacts we have in America who have placed some of Sentric Music’s artists tunes on programs on VH1 and MTV they’ve always requested music that is ‘pre cleared on both sides’ which to put in laymans terms means that they can use it without having to get permission from both us and the master rights holders first. This is due to the hasty turnaround deadlines the TV industry works to and also because of the time difference between us and our Atlantic neighbours.
We have strong relationships with many record labels and once we’ve been given permission by both themselves and the artists to begin pushing the material then we go and do what we do best and in the majority of cases there is little problem. However there is one label in particular who haven’t been the best (they’re a major, no surprises there) and therefore we’re unable to push the artist’s music for sync, which is a pity as the album is bloody well marvellous!
3) Always record instrumental versions of your music.
Having an instrumental version of your material handy is always a brilliant thing to have and usually doesn’t take up much of your precious studio time (just take off the vocals, level it a bit and bounce it down so I’ve been informed – although my experience of sound technology is limited to me recording myself playing the intro to Plug In Baby on a second hand acoustic guitar through a mini disc player when I was a teenager… I could have been Timbaland).
If a creative really likes your track it’s very common for them to request an instrumental version as well so when they’re cutting up the music to fit the video they can work their magic. So have one available, and let whoever is pushing your music know!
4) Be patient.
Over any one advert there may be a whole gallimaufry (which is ‘loads’ to a normal person) of music supervisors searching and submitting music to earn their percentage so competition is fierce. You may be up against thousands of other songs so it’s going to be rare that your track is the perfect one for the placement. Or even if it is perfect the client might not want to use it anyway and go for something else that they want which may be for various reasons: helping out a friend at a record label, they think the other track will be a better match for their brand, or they might just be an idiot.
We recently submitted some music for a particular advert which worked extremely well and the creatives also agreed, but for a reasons only beknowst to her, the client wanted to use M People. Having to explain why M People are no longer culturally relevant in a world full of HD TV’s and Twitter isn’t the easiest thing to do without sounding downright patronising and we’re currently waiting back to hear her response.
I’ve known certain music supervisors who were in their jobs for years until they landed their first sync deal and this isn’t due to them being bad at their job or having a narrow musical knowledge, far from it, it can just genuinely take that long for something to pay off so just chill out and enjoy life in the interim ok?
5) Demos aren’t good enough
If you get to the stage where you’re submitting music for briefs then don’t bother sending in a demo version of your new song that you’re convinced “is going to break you” because firstly it’s not and secondly as soon as the music supervisor hears the opening four seconds and realises the production quality is poor then it’ll be deleted, never to be heard again. Here at Sentric Music we sometimes have to listen to hundreds of tracks with the purpose of whittling them down to an acceptable number to send to the client and if the production quality is poor then we simply can’t submit it.
6) Apply self censorship
Be sure to read the brief and to listen to any reference tracks mentioned by the creatives/music supervisors. If they say they’re looking for something that is both energetic and sounds like “Ace of Spades” by Motorhead then don’t send something in that is purely energetic, but sounds nothing like Lemmy and Co.
I know it’s exciting to imagine your music on an advert for a multinational brand and I know it’s exciting to consider that a placement on a worldwide advert could be worth upwards of £100k but if your music doesn’t fit the brief then simply don’t submit it.
If you submit something that doesn’t match you’re going to piss off the music supervisor who will then be less inclined to listen to anything you also send in the future.
So there you go – six tips to help you get your music synced.
I know I’ve mentioned Sentric a couple of times in this post already and I often stress that this blog is purely for advice and not for marketing but on this occasion I feel it is relevant so bear with me as I do a bit of plugging…
If you sign up to Sentric Music then you’ll automatically be added onto our briefing distribution list where you’ll receive regular requests for music of various genres. We have been successful in placing music on nationwide TV advertising campaigns, we regularly have music placed on TV programmes (with Hollyoaks being a repeat customer) and we have a number of companies within the States pushing our music for sync. As ever it’s free to join up and if you go to the About Us page on our website you’ll find testimonies from some of our hundreds of users. Right, marketing done.