• Randy McGravey

4 Different Paths to Sync Licensing

Today we are discussing the different paths one can take to get into the sync licensing world. Most beginners in the industry don't know how to get started. Lucky for you, I can show you several ways in this post!


Working with Royalty-Free Music Libraries


These are online music libraries (usually they look like storefronts) where anyone can sign up and upload their music for sale. Clients can also sign up at will (most common clients are YouTubers, wedding videographers, college students, etc.). These websites are either subscription-based or a-la-carte style (pay per track).


Pros

- The websites are non-exclusive, meaning you can work with any/all of them with the same music tracks

- They usually pay weekly or monthly

- You can usually maintain full control of your backend royalties


Cons

- Sales are often for low money (pennies or small dollars)

- TV Placements are unlikely through these sites


Examples of RF Libraries

Pond5, Audiojungle, Melodicloud, Artlist


Working with Exclusive and Boutique Music Libraries


These are also online music libraries. Most libraries like this are more geared towards TV placements, commercials, etc. Libraries like this tend to be more selective with their music (quality must be good). You are also likely to have to submit full albums as opposed to individual tracks. Exclusive libraries don't allow you to sell the same music tracks anywhere else. Developing a relationship with these types of libraries sometimes yields opportunities to write for briefs.


Pros

- TV placements are more likely, and can be recurring

- Sales/sync fees are usually higher amounts than RF sites

- Backend royalties will likely be a bigger source of income


Cons

- Libraries will most likely take the entire publisher's share through PROs (50% of the song share)

- You can't use the same music anywhere else

- Payments are usually quarterly or bi-annual


Pitching Directly to Music Supervisors


This is the best option for pitching vocal/band music. To find music supervisors, do some research on IMDB or Tunefind and see who selects the music for your favorite TV shows. These supervisors likely get a lot of emails daily from people just like you (as do libraries). Be sure to customize your messages and don't spam them.


Pros

- You keep the full backend share

- Vocal music is more likely to be accepted


Cons

- Can be time consuming to research and contact people

- Instrumental music is less likely to be used

- You cast a smaller net than libraries would (you might get dozens or hundreds of placements from one track with an exclusive library, whereas a supervisor might use the track one time for one show).

- Opportunities might be few and far between


Working with a Sync Agent


A sync agent essentially pitches your music to supervisors for you, in exchange for a small fee. This is similar to the previous method. You will maintain all backend royalties (beware of any agent who wants to take those)! Agents usually have a handful of connections, but not as many as major libraries.


Pros

- You keep the full backend share

- Vocal music is more likely to be accepted

- You save time compared to direct pitching


Cons

- Instrumental music is less likely to be used

- You cast a smaller net than libraries would

- Agent takes a fee

- Opportunities might be few and far between

 

There we have it! Those are my 4 different paths to the world of sync licensing. The same path won't work for everyone, and that's ok. If you write instrumental music I would recommend working with libraries (especially exclusive ones). If you want low risk/low reward side money, go with royalty-free libraries. For licensing artist music I would go with direct pitching or sync agents depending how much time you have on your hands. Vocal music also has its place in libraries too. Evaluate your own situation and take a leap, cause no one else will do it for you!


Special thanks to Ra Zarita Blanco-Reus for suggesting this topic! What blog would you like me to post next?


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"Making Money with Music Licensing"


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