For independent musicians, there are a few key strategies to making a full-time living with your craft. Touring, merchandising, and sync placements are all excellent ways to monetize your art and craft.
Getting your music placed in TV shows, movies, commercials, and video games can be a game-changer. Not only does it offer exposure to a broader audience, but it can also provide a steady income stream.
Sync Licensing for Independent Artists
Music synchronized with a moving picture, known as sync placements, is highly sought after in the music industry. In this blog post, we’ll explore strategies and tips on how to get sync placements as an independent musician.
It’s also worth mentioning the importance of understanding the role of a Music Supervisor. This person is the one who will be responsible for finding and choosing music to fit the emotional and textural role for the placement.
They may use services purpose-built to find music beds, rely on personal connections and research, or even request specific music be written for their needs.
1) Create High-Quality Music
The foundation of any successful music career, including getting sync placements, is creating high-quality music. It’s essential to invest time and resources in honing your craft and producing professional-sounding tracks. Your music should be original, well-recorded, mixed, and mastered to industry standards.
Not only should it sound great, but it also needs to be useful to a Music Supervisor. Certain elements can immediately disqualify a song for use in a sync placement. Chord progressions and melodies that are too complicated can be distracting to a viewer whose attention is meant to be on the plotline and the visuals.
Jarring sounds or unusual instrumentation can also make it difficult to use, although having a unique texture and vibe is often the attribute that catches the music supervisor’s attention.
2) Understand Your Brand and Genre
Sync placements are about matching the right music to the correct visuals or emotions. So, it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of your music’s genre, style, and the emotions it conveys. Understanding your brand and musical identity will help you target the right opportunities.
It is possible to submit music directly for specific purposes. If you feel your music is an excellent fit for a particular show or use, some research may allow you to find the music supervisor and reach out with a curated selection of music they can check out.
3) Build a Strong Online Presence
Sync licensors often search online platforms like Spotify, SoundCloud, and YouTube for music.
To increase your chances of being discovered, build a solid online presence. This includes creating a professional website, maintaining active social media profiles, and sharing your music on various streaming platforms.
4) Network within the Industry
Networking is a critical component of getting sync placements. Attend music industry events, conferences, and workshops. Connect with other musicians, music supervisors, and sync agents.
Building relationships in the industry can lead to valuable opportunities, especially if you can connect and work with artists who are already successfully earning a living off sync placements.
5) Register Your Music with a Performing Rights Organization (PRO)
To collect royalties from sync placements, you must register your music with a Performing Rights Organization (PRO) like ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC.
These organizations ensure you are compensated when your music is used in various media. Not only that, but some will be able to assist in finding placements.
6) Create a Sync-Friendly Music Catalog
Diversify your music catalog by creating a variety of tracks with different moods, tempos, and instrumentation. Having a broad selection of songs will increase your chances of finding a perfect match for a sync opportunity.
Using meta-data (which are descriptions built into the coding of your digital audio file) allows the song to be easily discoverable. Use keywords like uptempo, major key, rock anthem, etc., to help define the track.
7) Music Licensing Libraries
One of the most effective ways to get your music in sync is by working with music licensing libraries. These are agencies that specialize in connecting musicians with sync opportunities.
Some popular music licensing libraries include Musicbed, Artlist, and Epidemic Sound. Submit your music to these libraries and follow their submission guidelines. Find a few of them here.
Many artists who pursue sync licensing will subscribe to one or more of these to raise their visibility to music supervisors.
8) Create Sync-Focused Tracks
Consider creating specific tracks tailored for sync licensing. This means the mixes may have multiple versions, enabling flexibility in their use.
Versions include: instrumental, acapella, TV mix (everything but the lead vocal), vocal up, vocal down, and full stems. Stems are stereo portions of the mix. When added together, all the stems will equal the exact sound of the final mix.
This allows easy editing of any version to meet the demand. It also can help to have pre-edited versions of varying lengths (e.g., 15 seconds, 30 seconds, 60 seconds, and full-length). Music supervisors often need flexibility in selecting music for their projects, and having versatile tracks increases your chances of landing a placement.
9) Be Persistent and Patient
Getting sync placements can be a lengthy and competitive process, and rejection is part of the journey. But remember that persistence is key.
Many musicians in the field make their living for the year off of a single placement. Some placements may pay tens of thousands for a featured use in a motion picture. Keep improving your music and actively seeking opportunities. Over time, your hard work will pay off with successful music placements.
10) Sync Representation
Once you have developed a significant catalog and have the ability to make it worthwhile for them, consider hiring a sync licensing agent or representative. These professionals have established relationships with music supervisors and can help get your music in front of the right people.
While they do take a percentage of your earnings, their expertise can be invaluable. This is like a manager for a performing artist, who can allow you to focus on what you do best. While they do what they do best — work to make your efforts profitable for both of you.
Getting sync placements as an independent musician is achievable with strategy and persistence. It all starts with creating high-quality music, understanding your brand, and building a robust online presence.
By networking, registering with a PRO, creating a sync-friendly catalog, and utilizing music licensing libraries and websites, you can increase your chances of landing those sought-after placements.
Remember, success in this field takes time and dedication, so stay persistent and continue honing your craft. Sync placements can be a game-changer for your music career, providing exposure and income to support your artistic endeavors.
If you are interested in a career in the music industry, Dark Horse Institute’s music programs: Composition and Songwriting, Audio Engineering, or Music Business, are a great way to take things to the next level!