• Manojna Yeluri

3 things to know about sync licensing your music


Sync licensing or synchronization licensing of music is fast becoming one of the most important licensing arrangements for indie musicians. With a steadily rising interest in original musical content that is both diverse and unique, producers of audio-visual works (like film, television shows, advertisements) have been increasingly approaching musicians and composers with offers to include their original songs, into background scores, television show-reels, brand promos and ads. 


In industry and legal lingo, the rights to match a song to a corresponding video format are referred to as synchronization rights; and suffice to say that these are rights are something to stay well informed about. While the nuances can get a bit complicated, here are three basic things about sync licenses that are easy enough to remember; 


(1) Sync rights belong to the copyright owner


You can only consider sync licensing your songs, if you’ve actually got the copyrights over them. So this means making sure that you double check the terms in any other deals that you get into, and retaining the rights over your composition and sound recordings.


(2) Sync rights can work across all kinds of audio-visual formats


Sync rights and their licensing typically crops up in conversations where the producer 

of the film or advertisement seeks to incorporate your song, but sync licenses work for 

a whole range of formats and domains, and are of increasing importance in the world 

of computer games, immersive retail experiences, video-on-demand services…it’s a 

pretty endless list, and a pretty endless list of opportunities.


(3) Sync licenses are negotiable 


Recognizing that sync rights and sync licensing packs quite a bit of potential for your career, it’s important to remember to think twice before signing any dotted lines. You want to look out for the scope of the usage of the sync license, the time period (watch out for words like “in perpetuity” and “unlimited”), the territory, and the payment terms (are you going to be paid a one-time amount or will there be royalties involved). It’s always a good idea to hire a lawyer to review your paper work (or manager, so long as they are familiar with these kind of deals), and always check twice before you sign any terms. 


Sync licensing is of growing importance to musicians, who are creating and in control of a library of original music. So important, that management agencies, record labels and publishers have been including the offer of finding their artists more sync revenue opportunities. Trust us, this is a fast growing revenue stream every musician needs to be aware of.  


Photo by Moise Alex on Unsplash

© 2020 Manojna Yeluri

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