Staying in Sync

By: Ally Rhodes

Synchronization License. Music Publishers issue licenses as copyright owner or agent, usually to a producer or music supervisor, granting the right to synchronize the musical composition in timed relation with audio-visual images on film.

It’s the music we hear everyday on TV or commercials, the soundtracks to our favorite films and amazing music that drives the most popular video games. Anyplace there’s video or film content with music, there are sync licenses protecting and compensating the writers and composers of each piece.

So who are these “gate keepers” and what exactly are they searching for? There are two primary individuals who control the music associated with TV, Film, gaming and other visual content; the director and the music supervisor. The director will oversee each project from conception to completion and will work closely with producers and the music supervisor to create the most compelling experience for the viewer. For musical production, the responsibility for controlling and licensing music falls to the producer. This individual is responsible to oversee and manage the recording (i.e. “production”) of an artist’s music. A producer will help gather ideas for a project, select songs and supervise the entire process from recording to mixing and mastering. Over the last 20 years, producers have assumed a wider role, with responsibility for budgets, schedules, contracts and license negotiations.

Regardless of their specific role in the business, most music supervisors and producers compile enormous amounts of music from artists, writers, and publishers. They review the catalog of songs they believe might work for the current project, while also coordinating with artists and publishers with whom they have established relationships and confidence. This begets the primary reason most songwriters are in search of the right publishing deal and should always be open to new co-writes, introductions and collaborations. You never know how the next hit will evolve or when the phone will ring for that “perfect song”.

Make no mistake, the music business is not for the faint of heart, but it’s also a place of amazing creativity and dynamic influence. If not for music, some of the most inspired visual moments on film would not have been so impactful or memorable. Next time you’re watching an exciting or moving scene on your favorite program or movie, try to focus on the music, or better yet, hit the MUTE button and see what impact those sounds have on your experience. It’s all about the sync license and there are writers around the world who make a very good living making the music we love to watch!


For more information, visit your favorite PRO for details of how to get involved as a sync writer: ASCAP. SESAC. BMI

October 1, 2015