So here we are in LA this week to learn more about the business of sync licensing. I caught up with Adam Gardiner, Head of Creative Licensing over at Universal Music UK, to find out more about how they work to get their artists' music placed in TV programme, movies and more.
What is sync licensing?
It’s the practice by which a rights holder licenses a song or piece of music to a third party who will sync the track to a picture, be it an advert, film or TV show
How does music make it onto a TV programme, movie or advertisement?
A track is chosen for any number of reasons. The director of a film might pick a track by his favourite artist or a sync team at a label might pitch a track for an advert as the first choice fell through at the 11th hour. We often work on campaigns before anything has even been shot right down to clearing a track the day before an advert airs. It’s all about making sure you’re speaking to the right people at the right time.
What does your job entail?
Essentially It's my job to ensure that we're across as many projects as possible at any one time. Establishing which adverts / film / TV shows are currently in production and seeking out opportunities for our artists. The exposure a sync can bring can make a huge difference to an emerging artist but it's also our responsibility to ensure that our artists get paid.
Which sync deals are you particularly proud of?
As a team we’ve worked on some great projects in recent years. The first major sync I landed was for Willy Moon’s Yeah Yeah on a global Apple campaign. It’s really satisfying to know that something you’ve pitched will be seen by millions of people but by the time the ad actually airs you’re already busy working on other projects. Sync is so fast moving that you never have time to savour the moment.
What skills do you think are helpful to do your job?
You have to be proactive and have good people skills. It's all about seeking our opportunities and ensuring that when people are looking for music you're the person they come to. Once that happens it's essential you listen to what they want. If you don't it's unlikely you'll hear from them again. Having a good ear and a passion for music are a pre-requisite.
Have you one piece of advice for anyone who wants to get into sync?
My first job in sync was working for a TV production company called Endemol. It was my responsibility to source music for the various TV shows they were producing and this meant striking up relationships with record labels and publishers. I put out myself out there and met as many people as possible which ultimately led to me working here at Universal Music. Look at which companies licence music. Do they have a dedicated team? Cast the net as wide as possible.