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Build Your Base: How Music Sync Licenses Work For You

As an independent artist, you need to find as many ways to profit off of your hard work as you can. Streaming is great, but it isn't guaranteed, especially if your numbers ever slow down. Streaming, touring, and merch sales aren't the only ways to make cash off your music, there's also the lucrative but rarely spoken world of music sync licensing.

Music Sync Licenses are essentially contracts between the owner, composer, producer of a certain song, and a production company that wants to use that song in a visual medium. For example, if a commercial is being made, and they reach out to use your song, a music sync license is the written agreement ensuring that you get compensated and give consent for your song to be used in said commercial.

There are two main ways to profit off of music sync licenses, depending on the details of your contract:

Upfront Fees

Usually a one-time payout that the production company will pay you in exchange for permission to use your song in a film, TV show, commercial, or video game. If you were wondering, yes it is possible for you to get paid if someone wants to use your cover of someone else's song, usually because it is cheaper for the production company to pay a cover artist than an original.

Residual Royalties

Some music sync licenses offer the opportunity to receive royalties for the use of your music. If your music is on a film or TV show, you'd receive a royalty check every time it was rerun for later broadcast. You're much more likely to have royalties if you make original music for the TV show, movie, video game, etc. This is passive income, money you get without clocking in or out, and the best part, the more your music is in visual media, the more likely you'll find new fans, new listeners, and inevitably bump up your streaming numbers.

So how do you get involved? Rather than wait for a production to approach you and ask for your music, you should invest in applying with a sync licensing agency, and work to "pre-clear" your tracks. Pre-clearing means that you have given future permission for productions to use your music, should they come across something they like. It is fast, you still get your pay, and you've essentially put your music into a smaller pool of music that production companies will have easier access to. Sync Licensing platforms such as Music Gateway and Premium Beat have professional backing, and are used by companies like Dreamworks when looking for music to put in their projects. YouTube also offers sync licenses if you are a fan of making cover videos of classic songs.

Ultimately, being an independent artist and penning a sync license is a badge of honor, and another step in your career, to have music that can resonate not just with your listeners, but within the stories of film, TV, and video games? It is a springboard to jump towards higher gains, a wider audience, and more buzz towards your artistic brand. Spread your art far and wide and reap what you sow.

Written by Max Olarinde, @mobeige1 on all social media.

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