5 reasons why licensing music should be your career goal

Find out all you need to know about the world of sync with Music Gateway...


Let’s face it there are a lot of musicians out there and the odds are if you reading this you’ll be at the beginning of your journey.

But at this stage, you know that making the most of every avenue to sell and promote your work is going to be really important for your music career. Here's where sync licensing comes in... 

Pocket Silver Screen

Music has always been a powerful tool for silver screen success, but in a world where video is accessible from anywhere at any time, an engaging track will act as the glue to keep content stuck in the mind of the viewer.

Music is designed to help tell the narrative and communicate the vision of the director. This is paramount, but more and more people in the TV and film businesses are getting smart with the way they use the right music. This will attract new audiences and potentially help a project get commissioned if it hasn't been already. This is why specialist platforms have emerged which find music based on a brief to match a particular video sequence. This process is known as sync licensing.

It’s helping ‘The Avengers’

Much in the same way that studios will hire third party effects, production and marketing teams, so too will studios look to work with specialist industry services for their music needs. In fact, because music has become the new marketing tool, they’re part of the event. Just take the Marvel films, criticised for their throwaway scores but lauded for their use of licensed music. The second 'Iron Man' film saw the release of an AC/DC compilation album accompanied by branding for the film.

This accelerated to the 'Guardians of the Galaxy' soundtrack being a central plot device, to Kendrick Lamar’s announcement that he would handling soundtrack duties for the cultural phenomenon that was 'Black Panther'  being an event in itself.

Obviously, not all filmmakers have the kind of budgets that the major labels demand for their legacy copyrights, so it’s the indie sector that can really fill this gap in the market and help every filmmaker's project, not only come to life, but reach mass audiences, just from the quality of the music itself."

It’s not as easy as it looks

This is where nuanced understanding of licensing these tracks becomes so important. For both the studio and the artist sync licensing is an incredible opportunity; obviously it furthers the artist’s career and the film gets a great piece of music that’s fresh and high quality making the sequence more memorable.

But the issue arises that the process of actually licensing music both from a legal and a logistical perspective. Thankfully services exist that can help both sides acting not so much as a middle-man but more of a network bringing two industries together.

Netflix is now

The days of Queen’s 'Highlander' soundtrack or Simon & Garfunkel’s work on 'The Graduate' are back in a big way.

It’s not just the big screen that’s making music a big seller for media, take a look at the big TV events, like HBO’s 'Game of Thrones' or Netflix’s 'Stranger Things', both have memorable theme tunes." 

These theme tunes have become synonymous with the show and in a world where there’s a ‘skip intro’ button, making the opening credits engaging, is only possible with good music. The soundtrack business fell off a cliff post iTunes, but we have now seen a big resurgence, reminding us all of the importance of music to visual media.

John Lewis’s Christmas covers

There was a reason that the John Lewis Christmas ad became an event and it wasn’t the adorable kid who couldn’t wait to give his parents a present.

No it was The Smith’s 'Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want' covered by Slow Moving Millie that started the trend of the heartfelt, emotional ad that puts the onus on the music.

However, this trend hasn’t just stopped with the emotional ad. Beer companies like Estrella are now using short films posted online as a marketing tool. For the smaller filmmakers, this will be a huge opportunity to make their mark but the gravity of these brands will require production quality on the same level. This will of course require quality music under tight deadlines, which makes sync licensing agencies even more crucial to the production process.

That’s the game

Ultimately, whether it’s a film, tv show, trailer or advert these pieces of media are designed to grab mindshare and the best way of doing that is through social media. It may seem obvious but the power of serving content to audiences who will be keen to claim the discovery of new music used in these promotions as their own. It’s this kind of social capital training that has breathed new life into music sync.

When ‘(insert media here) song’ is more often than not, one of the top suggested searches on Google, it’s hard to argue against the importance of music as a marketing tool and a driver of engagement.

But now that the secret’s out not just any old eighties pop cover will do, the use of music in video marketing is no longer a game of quantity, it’s a game of quality.

Ned Newberry has worked in content production and marketing for nearly five years and was marketing executive at Music Gateway, who have provided quality music through their Sync Licensing Service for hundreds of projects across the entertainment industry. 

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Contact the team on 020 7328 0222 or via email enquiries@icmp.ac.uk and start your music career today.

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by Ned Newberry
December 5, 2018
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