What is a sync agent? – Music industry jargon busting
What is a Sync Agent?
You’ve probably dreamt of calling your friends and family, and announcing that your tune has just been chosen as the next Bond theme song (Move over, Adele!). But how realistic is it to vie for a movie credit? We’re here to tell you that, if you get a hotshot sync agent, it could potentially become a reality.
But what is a sync agent, anyway? And why do musicians need one?
A sync agent is a company that’s responsible for getting your music on traditional TV/Netflix/Prime (and all streaming platforms), in adverts, films, video games etc. – basically, any place where your music could enhance what’s happening on the screen. As you might have figured out, doing it yourself can only get you so far, as a good sync agent has a lot of great contacts with film studios, game developers, music supervisors, advertising agencies and whatnot.
Some publishers and labels (especially the majors) also double as sync agents as they pitch the music that’s already on their roster to studios and music supervisors.
What’s a sync deal?
Time to explain some legal terminology! First things first – the term “sync deal” refers to when you sign that sweet contract and officially land a sync. Getting a sync deal goes hand in hand with contracts and understanding some pretty confusing buzzwords. Thankfully, we’re here to make things easier and help you take over the sync world!
A sync licence is an agreement that’s made when a piece of music is chosen from a database of thousands of tunes to be used in an audiovisual project. Strictly speaking, the licence refers to the musical composition i.e. the composition rights. However, this term is replaced with “master use licence” if the music supervisor asks for a specific recording of the song. Sync licences typically deal with songwriters and publishers. This all changes when the master is requested, since the recording artist, as well as the label, also need to get involved. These entities all have to give their permission for the sync to go ahead.
And why is every musician talking about getting a sync deal? A sync deal is highly coveted by musicians and songwriters alike as it enables them to generate income without relying on merch or live shows.
What kind of music should I make if I want to land a sync?
Whatever you want! Different types of music are used in different scenes, movies, ads etc.- so you shouldn’t worry too much about making a professional U-turn to focus on jingles or ambient tracks. Be true to yourself, hone your craft, and don’t be afraid to reach out to the industry professionals in your life to ask for their opinion.
The key thing is to make as many tracks as possible. According to Gothic Storm’s Dan Graham, if you’re seriously considering making a career out of syncing, you should aim to write at least one track a week. Before contacting anyone, make sure that you have an album’s worth of songs that fit a general theme. Finally, ensure that your tracks are professionally mixed and mastered.
Getting your music synced is a great way of earning wads of cash without ever leaving your bedroom studio, as you get paid without doing any shows or (potentially) even writing any new music! Moreover, it puts your music in front of a whole bunch of people who don’t know you exist – so that’s potentially a whole new set of fans that can discover your music, buy your merch and come to your shows.