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Just Another Great How-To Blog On Sync Licensing

Updated: Feb 23, 2022

by Maria Kaganis


Have you ever wondered how music is placed or chosen in TV shows, movies, and commercials? I know I have. After watching Kill Bill Vol. 1 at the ripe age of eight years old, you could say that I was equally amazed and horrified by the presence of the Japanese rock trio, The's, belting their upbeat, cutesy hit "Woohoo" just before the most gory fight scene of the movie (spoiler alert). Quentin Tarantino movies are well known for their incredible soundtracks and, in return, garner incredible fame for artists like The's, Stealers Wheel, and many others after having their music placed in his movies.

So, how can you get music placed in Tarantino's next movie and how do you generate income from that? It's not the most complicated process out there, but it's important to

know what you're getting yourself into if you want to get your own music synced to visual media, Tarantino movies or not. This process is called synchronization licensing, or sync licensing for short, and Brain Candy would like to give you some pointers on how it can generate revenue streams - particularly for independent artists out there.


To put it simply, sync licensing is a form of licensing that allows the use of a song in TV, films, commercials, or any other audiovisual medium. "Sync" is when you match the audio to visual media, and "licensing" is the legal permission granted by the rightholder of the song to be used in visual media. These rightholders are typically the owners of the master recording and the owners of the musical composition itself. Because there are rightholders for two separate aspects of the song, one master use license is issued for the use of the master sound recording in the visual media and the sync license is issued for the use of the musical composition in matching the song to visual media (Source: Symphonic Distribution). Now that we know how the license works, let’s move on to how sync licensing actually generates revenue.


When music supervisors want to find music to include in their new movie or TV show, they will typically send out briefs describing the project and what kind of music they’re looking for to publishers or sync agencies. If an artist sends their music in and scores a sync placement for that project, there are a few different ways that the rightholders get paid. It is quite common for companies to offer upfront payment for the use of an artist’s music, as well as backend payments through royalties - sometimes, there’s even a combination of both (Source: Sync Licensing and Indie Artists).

There is no set number on how much one can make off of a sync placement because it depends on what the song is used in, what specific scene it’s used in, how much of the song is used, who’s paying, and who’s licensing. However, sync placements still offer another stream of collection for independent artists given that royalties from things like streaming often leave recording artists and songwriters alike with the short end of the stick.


Want to know more about the nitty-gritty of sync royalties and where Brain Candy steps in to help? Look out for part two of this blog post to find out!

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