New Music Seminar 2013: The Ins and Outs of Synch Licensing

Josh Rabinowitz, SVP and director of music at GREY, addresses the music synch panel during the New Music Seminar, 2013 (Matthew Eisman)

The promise and process of music placements in television, movies and advertising was the topic du jour at a panel Tuesday for the New Music Seminar in New York. Representatives from labels and top music licensing companies, including Warner Music Group, S-Curve records, Zync and Shelly Bay Music discussed the subtle complexities of putting music to pictures.
Michelle Bayer of Shelly Bay, whose clients include Kia Motors and Mom + Pop Records, said her company builds personal relationships with music supervisors by learning their tastes and catering to their specific needs rather than sending out email blasts about the release of the week.
Steve Greenberg, founder and CEO of S-Curve Records, said one of his key strategies is “Do business now to do business later.” He said this means occasionally accepting less than ideal business, either low budget or last minute, in order to open the door to better business with a supervisor down the line.
Sanne Hagelsten, founder of Zync Music, said her company has dedicated teams in New York and LA focused on either TV, film, advertising or videogames. She noted that trends in one medium don’t necessarily apply to another.
“For TV shows anything related to vampires is good because TV is all vampires now,” she said. “But when it comes to advertising, those same songs won’t work so well.”
As a testament to the power of a great sync to completely transform the prospects for a band, Lori Feldman, SVP of Brand Partnerships and Music Licensing for Warner Music Group, told the story of how Damien Rice’s folk hit “The Blower’s Daughter” ended up in the 2004 Mike Nichols film “Closer.” The song had been placed in the trailer of the movie without the director’s knowledge. He happened to see it while in a theater for another movie and loved the song so much that he used it for the closing credits of his film and added it to the official soundtrack. Thanks to the exposure, Rice’s album O, already late in its cycle, sold an additional 250,000 copies.
“Sometimes there’s a truth in the music that’s just undeniable,” Feldman said.