The Full Guide to Landing Sync Deals with Music ProductionThe Full Guide to Landing Sync Deals with Music Production


The Full Guide to Landing Sync Deals with Music Production

How to land sync deals is one of the music industry's codes to crack. Producers who are after sync placements need to find their way through the maze of music supervisors, sync agents, and music licenses. Plus: what are the legal rights regarding (cleared and uncleared) samples in beats? This guide helps producers and beatmakers navigate the sync placements industry.




February 22, 2024

What are sync placements?

Unlike beat placements for (major) artists and rappers looking for beats, sync placements are all about synchronization. This means that your original songs aren’t offered for exclusive use but instead, ‘synced’ to moving media like a film, TV show, video game, streaming, advertisement, or commercial.

Fees are usually paid upfront, which is why sync deals are a desirable, sought-after revenue stream for artists. In addition, you may earn performance royalties for the public broadcasting of, for example, a TV show or a film streaming on Netflix. Mechanical royalties may come into play as well if the medium is offered as a download or as a physical copy such as a DVD.

You can consult Music Publishing Made Easy: The Ultimate Guide for Beginners for more about the different types of royalties and music rights.

music licensing movie syncing

Types of Sync Licenses

Music syncing for Film

Music licensing for major studios (Universal, Paramount, Warner Bros, Disney) or up-and-coming independent film companies such as the highly influential studio A24. Sync deals for film are also possible for streaming services such as Netflix, HBO Max, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, or on a smaller scale for independent filmmakers and indie producers.

Music syncing for Television

This relates to both traditional media (television shows) as well as episode-based new media (shows on streaming platforms).

Music syncing for Commercials & Advertising

With commercial budgets, there’s a lot of appeal for independent artists to sync music to advertisements, commercials, ad agencies, and production companies.

Music syncing for Video Games

This type of a sync license gets much more niche than more broad media like films or commercials. But if your music fits in the realm of retro video games, soundscapes for video game storylines, or even a specific style like Bandai Namco, then licensing music for games might be of interest. Think of major studios like Sony, Electronic Arts (EA), Epic Games, Rockstar, Activision/Blizzard, or Guerrilla Games, or independent developers and mobile game makers.

video game music syncing

Frequently Asked Questions about Music Syncing

How much money can you make with music sync deals?

According to music business education company Ari's Take, this is the scope of typical upfront fees for independent artists:

  • Commercial Campaigns: $20K – $150K+
  • Films: $10K – $80K
  • Trailers: $10K – $80K
  • TV: $500 – $20K
  • Video Games: $2K – $10K
  • Theme Songs: $5K – $10K

Can you also sync music to podcasts?

Licensing music to podcasts may technically not be considered syncing because podcasts are an audio format. But there still is a big potential when it comes to music licensing for podcasts, as explained here by Synchtank:

"Just as we have iconic syncs in film and television, we could see irreplaceable music moments from podcasts which fans will be dying to see visualised on the big screen. Licensing music to a podcast may not be a sync deal, but it could be the foundation for a lucrative one down the line."

—Kriss Edward Thakrar (Synchtank)

Can you get sync placements with uncleared samples?

As the world’s only online record store for sampling, we cannot express enough how important it is to clear samples. That’s even more so the case for landing sync deals: music with uncleared samples will NOT be accepted for sync placements. To put it this way: why would sync agents go through the trouble of clearance issues and lawsuits if they have thousands of cleared original songs to choose from?

Luckily, Tracklib now offers unlimited sample clearance to clear samples without licensing fees. This allows you to fully engage and chase that sync gold!

In case you’re under the impression that people won’t find out about uncleared samples in sync placements—think again before going rogue. Our longread Myths & Misconceptions About Sampling Music Debunked explains why it’s best to stay out of trouble.

Can you sync beats made with Tracklib samples?

Most songs available on Tracklib include the right to synchronize the new song (derivative work) with a sample. However, tracks marked with the orange Sync on Request icon do not include the rights to synchronization without prior approval of the original rightsholders. For more info, check out Tracklib’s Licensing Guide.

mixing board music syncing

Sync Deals: A 'How To' Guide

How to land sync placements on Netflix and other TV shows?

Chart-topping, trend-setting success stories like Kate Bush’s "Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)" in Stranger Things show the huge potential of music synchronization licenses for streaming platforms.

Key takeaway: music supervisors rarely accept music directly from artists. The solution: sync agents. They are the middle-man between supervisors and independent artists or record labels, who work in close liaison with supervisors and music publishers. Sync agents work independently or on behalf of a sync licensing company. Over the years, they have built a strong network, trust, and understanding of the world of sync licensing. So there’s no need to grope in the dark in the complex world of music syncing in music production.

Music supervisors prefer to work with sync agents because they can guarantee A) quality music in line with sync briefs and B) cleared music. The latter means that a sync agent can work as a "one stop": working on behalf of an independent artist or record label, clearing all the master rights and publishing rights, and efficiently handling everything to make a music supervisor’s life easier.

If you want to learn more about the differences between master rights and compositions, then there’s a dedicated section about that in our guide Sample Clearance Demystified: How to Clear a Sample.

How to get in touch with music supervisors and sync agents?

There’s no need to invent the wheel. The world of music licensing and sync deals is hard enough by itself. That’s why it’s best to consult existing resources and insights to get in touch with sync agents, music supervisors, or a production company.

Here are a few recommended lists as a starting point:

  • A list of music supervisors and sync agents (by Ari’s Take)
  • Advanced Sync Strategies for TV, Film, and Video Games (video masterclass)
  • 10 Best Music Sync Licensing Companies That Actually Deliver For Artists (by Omari)
  • A definite list of sync licensing companies (by TRQK)
  • ‘The Enormous List’ (by Janaé E. Music)

How to submit beats and music for sync placements

Getting your metadata right is critical for landing sync deals
Make sure all information is part of the audio file for the actual song or the instrumental version. In addition, original songs and master rights need to be properly registered with a PRO (publishing rights organization) and a neighboring rights collection agency. For more about metadata when licensing your music, we recommend episode 16 of the Sync Songwriter podcast by Chris SD.

Be as precise and concise as possible based on sync briefs
A sync brief (synchronization briefing) details what a music supervisor is looking for. The overview describes the project, the general mood, the style, the tempo, and potentially ‘Similar To…’ reference tracks. The closer you get to a perfect song for a sync brief, the bigger your chance of landing a sync deal or placement. Needless to say, if a music supervisor is after a The Alchemist type beat, don’t submit Nujabes-inspired lo-fi beats.

Be prepared to deliver different versions of the actual song
A delivery of instrumentals, acapellas, a TV mix, or in the case of profanity: a clean mix. The right delivery can be hugely beneficial to land sync deals.

Clearly state if your sync submission is one-stop
For many music supervisors, working with a "one-stop" is preferred to have all the necessary legal rights, publishing, and master rights in place. That’s obviously better for them than the need to chase down different rightsholders or hard-to-reach contributors.

Make your delivery clean, clear, and easy
A music management platform like DISCO is a go-to tool for many music supervisors and sync companies. This way, you can include all necessary metadata, lyrics, and release information. Pro tip: avoid ad-based preview links like the free version of SoundCloud!

"When listeners arrive to check out that track they've just heard in a TV show, commercial, or movie, it's easy for them to then go even deeper into an artist's catalog on Spotify, save their new favorite songs to playlists, and share them with friends."

—Bryan Johnson (Spotify's head of artist/industry partnerships), taken from 'How Syncs Supercharge Your Fans: Insights from Spotify for Artists and Netflix'

How music producers can start pursuing sync placements

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