A halftime viewing audience of 118.5 million wasn’t the only record broken by Super Bowl XLIX. Synchs — songs licensed for commercials that aired during the big game — reached new highs at the top three music publishers, with Warner/Chappell reporting 14, Sony/ATV clocking 12 and Universal Music Publishing Group tallying 20. (Sony and Warner’s totals were from the main telecast; UMPG’s tally includes pregame spots.)
As ad rates have soared — to $4.5 million for the cost of a 30-second spot during NBC’s broadcast of the big game — licensing royalties for songwriters and artists have gotten healthier, too. Brian Monaco, executive vp/worldwide head of advertising, film and TV at Sony/ATV, says that although the company booked fewer synchs than the 2014 telecast (12 vs. 14), the overall revenue was up thanks to a $2 million fee for a rerecording of The Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love” for Ecuador Tourism, a regional commercial for American Family Insurance featuring Jennifer Hudson covering The Five Stairsteps’ “Ooh Child” and a newly recorded version of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” by Sony/ATV writer Marc Cibilia for Jeep. (Synch fees for the 2015 Super Bowl ranged from $75,000 to $2 million, depending on the length of the commercial campaign and whether the original master was used.)
“People are consuming more music in ads than ever, [so] brands need to make big statements,” says Monaco, noting that licensing windows have been narrowed from a year with renewals to six to nine months to keep up with demand. “But there are still songs that can command a major premium when you put them on a Super Bowl platform.”
Ron Broitman, executive vp/head of synchronization at Warner/Chappell Music and Rhino Entertainment, adds that Warner Music had seven synchs on the masters side, including Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s in the Cradle,” for which Nissan paid $1 million. “We continue to see the impact of powerful songs on advertising, which makes for a vibrant and competitive marketplace,” he says. “Warner saw one of its best Super Bowls from a licensing standpoint this year, which is a testament to strong relationships and the privilege of working with amazing music.”
Expect the synch wave to stay afloat heading into the Feb. 8 Grammy Awards, where spots soared past $1 million for the first time in 2014. Advertisers such as Pepsi, MasterCard, and Hyundai will all likely debut new creative.
Sleeping at Last’s cover of The Proclaimers’ “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” soundtracks “Lost Dog.”
2. Ecuador Tourism
A spoken “All You Need Is Love” — a rare synch for the Beatles canon — draws viewers to the South American country.
Chapin’s bittersweet “Cat’s in the Cradle” accopmanies this paean to the joys and trails of parenthood.
4. American Family Insurance
Hudson plays up family ties with her gospel-inflected rendition of The Five Stairstep’s “Ooh Child.”