You've put your blood, sweet, and tears into your latest EP or album. You've had a great response with your existing fans at gigs. You've had a write-up in the music press. Your local radio station has decided to spin your track and you have your songs with a bunch of music supervisors. Everything seems to be pointing in the right direction, so why aren't you landing any SYNC deals? What's holding you back?
The short answer is, most likely, NOTHING!
What you may not know is that timing and luck are big deciding factors with sync placements. Just because a placement hasn't occurred, it doesn't mean your songs are not licensable or will never be licensed. What people don't tell you is that music is incredibly subjective. People respond to music differently based on their own moods/tastes and personal experiences/emotions. Whether it be a certain genre, musical feel, or lyrical message, each decision maker can, and do, resonate to a song completely differently to the next person.
Furthermore, there is very rarely one person making the final decision on what song they'll proceed with. Whether it be a TV Show, Motion Film, Video Game or TV Commercial, there is always a long list of decision makers (chain of command), all weighing in their opinions and judgments. Fundamentally, the Music Supervisor acts as the specialist who provides guidance in the music direction, and filters down the music options, but if the CEO of Brand X or the Producer of Film Y doesn't like the song, even though everyone else in the chain of command loves it, it's then vetoed and on to the next song.
The deciding factor could simply come down to a lyric being more suited to the image/feel, or the producer preferring a female vocal to a male, or maybe they all thought a rock song would fit perfect, but it turned out that it overpowered the scene and an acoustic track was selected instead. There are hundreds of different reasons why you haven't yet landed a sync placement, a lot of which are completely out of your control. From my own experience I've had a song pulled from a TV Commercial the day before it's due to air, simply because the CEO's daughter didn't like the song. WTF! Who would have thought that across all the different decision makers, from Creative Directors, Copywriters, Producers, Music Supervisors, Music Catalog Representatives, Editors, Marketing Coordinators, Marketing Directors, CEO, etc.… It would all come down to a 12-year-old child!
On the flip side, don't ever think, 'I never got that placement… they'll never license my song'. Just because the cards didn't fall in your favor on that said production it doesn't mean it won't in the future. What you don't know is that your song has now been filed, tagged and stored inside the Music Supervisors iTunes catalog, ready for them to re-draw upon on the next production. What I like to call a 'no for now'. The very reason why your song wasn't selected for project X, could be the reason why it's selected for project Y. For example; a rock edge is now required as an acoustic track lacks intensity. Songs can sit in personal libraries for years before someone calls upon your song. At the end of the day if the shoe fits the deal is sowed. This might not always line up with your songs' release schedule, you may even be onto your next EP, but it all leads back to gaining exposure, earning a coin or two, and growing your fan base.
So remember plenty of amazing songs don't get placements. You just need to remain persistent & patient and don't expect instant results.
About the Author – Daniela D'Onofrio
Daniela has been responsible in representing hundreds of indie artists, and successfully securing placements for Virgin, Qantas, Contiki, Jeans West, Joe Fresh, Sony PlayStation and countless Films and TV Shows with Disney, 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures, HBO, Showtime, FOX, USA Network, MTV, CTV, Warner Bros, ABC (USA), and NBC Universal.
Passionate about the sync industry, Daniela has had many speaking and teaching engagements including Q Music, Music Industry Inside Out, and SYNC Master Classes at Queensland University of Technology