Top tips for sync licensing

The Association of Independent Music (AIM) is set to hold a brand-new international sync licensing conference at the end of the month.

Taking place at the Barbican Centre, London, AIM Sync will feature a range of industry figures covering sync licensing in gaming, film, TV, branding and advertising.

The conference aims to connect business from the key areas of sync licensing via talks, on-stage discussions, and interactive sessions.

Ahead of the conference on 28 January, some of the featured speakers offer up some expert advice on the world of sync licensing…

Tim Dellow, co-founder, Transgressive Records: Know your catalogue, be open minded, courteous and approachable. Understand your artists and their motivations and be mindful of what the brand is hoping to achieve.

Emma Lomas, senior creative & licensing manager, Beggars Group: Never rush when sending an email approval! Always double check you’re confirming the right terms and fees. Also, know your repertoire – be aware of samples and side artists that might require approval. I guess it’s all attention to detail!

Pete Beck, global head of sync, Believe Distribution Services: There’s a lot to consider when trying to land a sync, but you should always get things in order before sending music to potential clients. Speak to your artist about the placements they’re interested in or are likely to deny; make sure you have all your audio assets to hand; and – most importantly – make sure you know exactly who controls which rights. That way you’ll be ready to go and make the most of any opportunity that comes in.

Clemmie Woodhouse, creative sync, Ninja Tune: If you get sent a music brief, only ever send tracks that are relevant to the brief. Don’t go off-piste. The odd wildcard is fine if you think it will work well with that project but in general, stick to what they are asking for. Make sure you know who owns the rights to the tracks that you are sending to ease the licensing process. Have instrumentals available to send to the client.

Ayla Owen (pictured), head of music & partner, BBH: Sync licensing is not an exact science, and anyone who tells you differently is trying to sell you snake oil. The best music supervisors work with an accumulative mental database of commercial precedents, projects that went wrong (with the hindsight of why they went wrong), labels/artists/publishers/managers that they trust, projects that went really fucking wrong (and the scars to prove it). It goes without saying that a vast knowledge of all genres of music (even and especially genres they don’t personally like), an unabashed passion for music and an unshakeable work ethic are all crucial elements for success.

Never assume anything. Check, cross check, and check some more. If you are in charge of someone else’s money and brand, due diligence should be tattooed on your forehead. Nobody’s perfect, humans make mistakes – but sloppiness can kill reputations in a heartbeat, including yours. Always help others. It’s not only good karma, but you can learn so much from being part of a collaborative network.

Tristan Wilson, head of sync & brand partnerships, Downtown Music Publishing: Be transparent from the off, and don’t make music an afterthought. We can help you with the rest.

Ed Horrox, head of A&R, 4AD: I’m coming at this from an A&R perspective, so first and foremost I’m constantly searching for an emotional response to music. Once you have this it’s a case of connecting with directors, actors, music supervisors … who will hopefully help orchestrate equally moving syncs. Some of these connections are already in place, so sharing work in progress where possible can be fruitful.

For more information about AIM Sync and to book tickets, please visit musicindie.com

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