What is Sync Licensing?
‘Sync’ is short for ‘synchronization’. When you’re talking about synchronization licensing in the music business, synchronization refers to the act of synchronizing a piece of music with any form of visual media—movies, TV episodes, commercials, video games, etc. Licensing refers to the act of getting the rights to use the music.
Music supervisors on film, TV, commercial, gaming and trailer projects must ask the rights holders of song(s) for permission to use the music in their projects.
They have to get permission from all owners of a song:
- The Master (or sound recording) owners
- The “publishing” owners, which refers to the owners of the underlying musical composition
The music supervisors will ultimately need to obtain two licenses to use the song in their visual media project:
- A “Master Use License” to use the master recording in coordination with the visual media
- A “Synchronization License” to use the underlying musical composition in coordination with the visual media
What is a Music Supervisor?
A music supervisor is a professional hired by a film director, TV network, video game, TV production company and the like. Music supervisors are hired to manage the creative selection of music and the licensing of all the songs placed in their visual media projects. They work hand in hand with the film/TV/trailer/commercial/video game directors. Although music supervisors are in charge of seeking out the music for a project, it is ultimately up to the film director or the head of the project which songs actually get used.
What is the eligibility for licensing submissions?
1. For any one of Symphonic’s licensing offerings, all music submitted must not contain ANY uncleared samples. In general, songs with uncleared samples are completely ineligible for sync licensing. If an uncleared sample is found, you could get into big legal trouble.
2. As a record label, you must have the right to grant master use and synchronization licenses on behalf of your artist/songwriter. This must be stated clearly and explicitly in your artist-label contract. If not, you must have prior authorization from your artists/songwriters in the form of writing. By delivering your music to Symphonic to ultimately deliver to our licensing partners, you warrant and represent that all owners of the songs have given you permission in some form and that all songs you deliver to our licensing partners are pre-cleared for placement and licensing purposes.
Background Music Licensing vs. Sync Licensing
Sync licensing is the business of giving/getting the rights to place music on top of some form of visual media.
Background music licensing is the business of giving/getting the rights to publicly perform and play the music as background music in a public space, such as restaurants, retail stores, shopping malls, bars, etc.
Where can I learn more about the licensing business?
Music Licensing is a different business than digital distribution, so it’s important to know more about it. First off, check out our article “5 Steps to Prepare for Licensing Your Music”.
Having a solid foundation in music publishing is vital when venturing into the licensing world. We highly suggest you read our (free!) Publishing Guide Part 1, which delves into all the basics of music publishing and how it involves licensing. The publishing and licensing worlds are intertwined, so having a strong familiarity with both and understanding the relationship between them is crucial to moving forward with your business.