There is good money to be made by artists who can acquire a sync deal for their music, but getting your composition into the hands and ears of those who have the power to make it happen is no easy task. Here we look at why and how artists should go about getting a sync agent.
At our Hollywood SyncSummit last month, one of the main issues speakers discussed and attendees asked about was how participants at the event can best get their music into the ears of a music supervisor, ad agency producer or brand manager.
The answer? Get a sync rep. And I agree.
I say this for several reasons.
First, for most artists, the logistical and marketing details of pitching are time-consuming and overly complicated.
Proper pitching – and preparing for it, takes a lot of time and effort as well as a completely different skillset outside music that, let’s face it, a lot of artists don’t possess. For the ones that do, great. But for most, you’re better off sticking to your musical day job.
Second, and this is probably even more important, every hour you spend trying to figure out metadata, cue sheets, clearance splits and the like, let alone trying to get into the mindset and the needs of every music supervisor is an hour you’re taking away from composing, making and perfecting your art.
Third, and this is most important – the people you want to use your music just don’t have the time, as much as they want to, to listen to and evaluate the ownership and clearability of every track provided to them by people they don’t know and haven’t worked with.
Music Supervisors and ad producers want to go to the people they know – people who make their jobs easier – people who have made it their main job to make sure when a brief is sent out will present them with the right music, fully cleared and with the proper metadata.
This is what you’re up against when you’re a musician pitching your own music – a complicated submission process that takes time away from your art only to present to people who for the most part are reluctant to or simply cannot spend the time and effort needed to take on and evaluate music from the 500 or so artists who submit music to them on a daily basis.
So what are you to do? Get a rep – someone or a company to represent you to the music buying community.
Simple as that.
Even if you choose to promote your music yourself to music buyers, I urge you to look for a company or person that can help you get your music placed.
Here’s four important reasons why.
- Music supervisors and ad producers prefer working with dedicated sync agents.
This is by far the most important reason. Over and over and over again, for years, in private and in public, this is all I hear from the people you want to buy and use your music.In fact, many of them just won’t even consider submissions from individual musicians or people they don’t know.Why? It’s a matter of time and reliability. These are people with serious time, budget and legal constraints. They just don’t have the time to listen to every track submitted to them.And, even if they do listen to unsolicited submissions (many do), they often don’t want to go through the time and trouble of making sure the music is properly cleared from a legal point of view.But there’s more to it.
Buyers know dedicated sync agents know the buyer’s projects and needs and will submit music for a brief that’s on point for a project. And, buyers know good sync agents will make sure the rights are properly cleared, that the music will be delivered on time and on budget. The business of the sync agent depends on it, and the buyers know that.
- Good sync agents can make sure your music is properly labeled and cleared.
This takes a lot of pressure off of you to make sure all the various elements of your music’s labeling – from the assurance that all the rights are properly cleared (sync and publishing) to the metadata to the types of licenses are actually doable. It’s part of their job, and because they do it day-in, day out, they know what to do to prepare music for the needs of a buyer.
- They are your knowledgeable, objective advocate to the buyer community.
This is crucial. They will look at your music from an objective point of view – and pitch it accordingly. A good rep will make sure your music is presented not only the right way to the right people, but at the right time for the right project.For example, if you’re a hip-hop artist, they won’t send blind submissions to a show like Nashville. I see artists make bad submissions like this all the time.I mean seriously, if you see a show like Empire where they use urban music, ask yourself, as good as your hard rock song is, what do you honestly think the chances are it will actually be listened to or used for a show like that?I can tell you. Slim to none.
But still artists make these bad submission choices because they are looking at their music as the amazing music it may be in a general sense when it’s completely wrong for a project they’ve submitted it to.
A good rep will never do that. They know that the objective in pitching a piece of music is to help a music buyer, and that mean’s they’ll follow a brief and submit or pitch music that fills a need the music buyer has.And having this kind of knowledge and expertise on your side will not only make sure your music is presented when it’s right for a project, but if it is placed in a project, they’ll do so in a way that gets you the best possible deal.
- A percentage of something is a hell of a lot better than all of nothing.
What I mean by this is that you may have to give up part of your sync fees, but with a decent rep, you’re a lot more likely to get them, and if you’re already getting them, you’ll get more of them than you do on your own. A good rep is totally worth your money.
So if you’re following me so far, then the next question is, if you don’t already have a rep, how do you go about getting one?
Getting a Good Rep
I’ll give you a list of some companies you can start looking into to help you at the end of the article, but before that, I’d like to give you a few pointers of what you should do before you engage with a sync agent.
That’s the biggest point. Go on the Internet, ask around, see who your peers have repping them and who is repping the kind of music you create in general. Then contact the company directly, ask them what kind of music they represent, what their revenue splits are, who they work with, submit some music to them and see if there’s a potential to work together, then if it’s right, engage with them.
- Choose Wisely.
I mean this in two ways – once you have done your research, make your decision to work with someone who could be a real advocate for your music and has access to the buyer community.And, don’t spread your music all over the place – you don’t need to sign up with every single service or rep out there – pick 1-2 max that you think can work with – and give them time to try to find you some projects. Music buyers don’t like it when they have music pitched from too many sources – it’s time consuming and annoying. Sort of defeats the point of having a rep in the first place.
- Exclusive or Non-Exclusive? You Decide.
There’s some debate to this – some reps or agents will tell you you need to go exclusive with them, that it insures that they will be better advocates and that you’ll be seen in a better light by buyers.And, while I can see their point to some degree, I’m not an advocate of going exclusive in this world, unless someone’s investing in you with their money.In my opinion, going non-exclusive is more in your interest – for example, what if one rep is really connected at ad agencies and one is deep in film and TV – how much sense does it make for you to be tied to a rep that can do a good job in one area and not another?To me, not much.
That said, it does make sense to not compete against yourself – if someone is repping you in film and TV, let them have a chance to do their job. Same if you have someone repping you for ads, don’t sign up with four companies because you heard each one has a brand or an agency they are close to.
So my personal opinion is, exclusivity in one area – perhaps a rep heavy in film/TV, one in ads/brands and one that’s more international.
And now some recommendations
There are a lot of companies out there I think are fantastic and can really help you connect your music to projects, music supervisors, ad producers and brands. I do a little repping myself now and then, so you can always contact me directly and we can talk, but this article isn’t about me, it’s about you and giving you a range of resources to choose from.
So in no particular order, and with only some basic information (really, you need to do the research yourself on whether these companies are right for you), here’s a few companies that can rep your music and do it well, whether it’s custom or tracks you want to license.
They are no means the only people out there, and there’s a lot of really decent reps and services to get your music out there I didn’t add here, but these should get you started.
- Bank Robber Music (traditional music licensing reps)
- Audiodraft (Online marketplace for Custom Music Only)
- Entertainment One (online platform)
- Shelly Bay Music (traditional music licensing reps)
- Pusher Music (traditional music licensing reps)
- Search Party Music (traditional music licensing reps)
- Music Dealers (online platform)
- Tomatoshark (online platform)
- DeWolfe Music (Custom/catalog music)
- Songtradr (online platform)
- Musicbed (traditional music licensing company)
- Jinglepunks (online platform)
Whoever you choose to work with, I urge you to get a rep for your music. It’s essential to your success.