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Drake, Skrillex and More Music Stars Reaping Rewards From International Synchs

From Russia to the U.K., Audi, Apple Music, H&M lead international use of songs.

A recent Apple Music as that has become a viral sensation features Taylor Swift on a ­treadmill, enthusiastically rapping along with Drake and Future’s “Jumpman” until she gets so caught up in the beat that she slips, falls flat and is carried backward to the floor.

Swift’s orchestrated, comical mishap has been viewed more than 20 million times since debuting April 1 on the singer’s Instagram account, which has more than 73 million followers. The ad also is a big win for Sony/ATV Music Publishing, which represents both Swift and Drake, co-writer of “Jumpman,” and for Universal Music Publishing Group, which represents Future. Sales for the song in the United States jumped from 15,000 in the week ending March 31 to 44,000 in the week ending April 7, according to Nielsen Music — a gain of 193 percent.


“It’s great to see a huge star like Taylor poke fun at herself,” says Brian Monaco, executive vp/­worldwide head of ­advertising, film and TV at Sony/ATV, which struck a worldwide deal with Apple Music for “Jumpman.”

“For Drake, this is continuing the momentum for him in the synch world,” adds Monaco, ­citing T-Mobile’s use of “Hotline Bling” in a Super Bowl 50 ad that also featured the rapper. The football game was broadcast in more than 130 countries, ­according to the NFL.

For music publishers, the use of copyrights in international markets is an essential and ­lucrative part of their business, particularly the use of songs in films, TV shows or ads like the Apple Music spot. Such deals can earn $10,000 to $1 million apiece.

One measure of the strength of U.S. ­repertoire abroad: Performing rights ­societies ASCAP and BMI reported ­revenue to U.S. writers and ­publishers from sources outside the United States of more than $590 ­million in 2015. With both current hits and songs from their back catalog, music publishers offer six case studies of success.

A rapid-fire montage of pop-culture images — Garfield, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley — is accompanied by the electronic dance beat of Skrillex’s “Bangarang” in a TV ad created for Audi Germany. The placement of the EDM star’s song in the spot for the Audi 2 was the work of the synch team at Kobalt, and it has been viewed more than 700,000 times in Germany, according to the company. Skrillex has been a high-profile client for Kobalt. In a 2015 story in Wired U.K., he pronounced the data tools that the company offered to artists as “awesome.”

The Mamas & The Papas reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 five decades ago with “California Dreamin.’ ” In 2016, Universal Music Publishing Group’s team pitched the song in Sweden as the theme for the ad campaign “H&M Loves Coachella,” with Swedish band Amason offering an ethereal cover of the classic. UMPG, which has rights to the song and has signed the members of Amason as artist/writers, worked with Stockholm-based music agency Ohlogy to launch the song for H&M, a Swedish retailer with 4,000 stores worldwide.

For German director Tom Tykwer and German production company X Filme, peermusic licensed the David Foster hit “You’re the Inspiration” for the worldwide release of the comedy A Hologram for the King. Based on the book by Dave Eggers, and starring Tom Hanks, the film opened in the United States on April 22. “Inspiration” offers the punchline in one scene: After flying to Saudi Arabia and catching a cab, Hanks tells the driver that he hails from Boston. “Do you like Chicago?” asks the driver. “Not in the winter,” replies Hanks. “No, the band,” says the driver, as he pops in a cassette that plays “You’re the Inspiration.”

4. Lazer Focus for U.K. Retailer
In April, Major Lazer reached No. 6 on the Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart with “Light It Up,” featuring Nyla and Fuse ODG. Across the Atlantic, meanwhile, the track scaled the top 10 of the Official U.K. Singles chart in November 2015, setting the stage for a second level of exposure. “Light It Up” has become the backing music for an online ad for the spring line of British fashion retailer Very, says Gerard Phillips, head of creative for the United Kingdom and international at SONGS Music, who guided the synch deal by working with the Soho Music Group and the Somo agency. The spot has earned 500,000 views on YouTube.

“Champion the Wonder Horse” was the theme song of a children’s western TV series that aired on CBS for just 26 episodes in the 1950s and subsequently in the United Kingdom, offering the adventures of 12-year-old Ricky North and his faithful Mustang stallion. To make an emotional connection between a young cowboy and a deliveryman on a motor scooter, Spirit Music struck a synch deal for the song to appear in a U.K. Domino’s Pizza ad. The theme was written by composer Norman Luboff, who founded the Walton Music Corporation, and Spirit Music client Marilyn Bergman, one of America’s most acclaimed songwriters. She is along with her husband and co-lyricist Alan Bergman. The Bergmans won Academy Awards for best song for “The Windmills of Your Mind” in 1968 and “The Way We Were” in 1973, and for the score of Yentl in 1984.

6. The Best Synch Of Their Lives
“Best Day of My Life,” written by the members of New York-based indie band American Authors, along with their producers, reached No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 in April 2014. But that achievement pales in comparison to the song’s history as a favorite choice for synch deals around the world. According to Round Hill Music, which represents the writers, no fewer than 15 commercials have featured the hit, including ads for cars (Chevrolet in Russia, Citroen in the United Kingdom), candy (Cadbury in Canada), coffee (Nescafe Express in Turkey), phone service (Telecom in New Zealand, Vodaphone in Greece) and even Staatsloterij, the Dutch lottery.

This article first appeared in the June 4 issue of Billboard.