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Month 10 – The Song Is Synced On A European TV Advert.


Car TV Ad

Pure-Horse have just received a rather career changing email from their artist liaison at Sentric Music. We find them, huddled around the singer’s rather antiquated laptop, all reading and re-reading the same sentence over and over again.

“‘The fee that is being proposed for this 12 month license of The Song on the [BRAND] advert is £120,000 for the master and publishing rights, please let us know ASAP if you agree to these terms and we’ll execute the paperwork’” the singer reads aloud, slowly emphasising the monetary value. 

“That says ‘one hundred and twenty thousand’, right? Or is the decimal point in the wrong place and it’s just ‘one hundred and twenty’?” the guitarist asks their bandmates, and also the universe in general.

“No, you’re right the first time. I rang the office fifteen minutes ago and had a chat with an absolute dreamboat on the sync team there called Patrick who sounded like he had incredible hair. He confirmed that it is indeed £120k”, the drummer informs everyone, sporting the widest grin he’s grinned since his tutor told him he had the quickest paradiddle in Western Europe.

“I assume we’re all happy for this to happen? I mean, I for one am a fan of the [BRAND] range and am happy to have our music used on their advert to promote such an ethically focused product. All those in favour say ‘aye’”, the bass player calls the vote. Everyone says aye, two band members announce it emphatically and with a grade A swear word proceeding their response. That night, the band treat themselves to some drinks that don’t come from the supermarket’s own brand budget range and not one, but two Deliveroo’s (main course and dessert). The Song has officially earned them a living.

(Quick side note from me here, despite the band and song above being fictional, the actual situation isn’t. There have been many times over the years at Sentric where we have landed £100k+ figure sync deals for emerging/unsigned artists that have allowed them to quit their day jobs and become full time musicians. Don’t get me wrong, they’re exceptionally difficult to land and it’s an outrageously competitive market, but it can, and does, happen).

So when do they get paid? Approximately three to six months.

In this situation, how long it takes you to get paid is all down to how long it takes the advertising agency to pay their invoice and that, in turn, is all down to how long it takes the [BRAND] to pay the advertising agency their invoice. In a perfect world, most people will cough up within thirty days of receiving an invoice, but there can be times where companies (especially huge conglomerates) drag their heels to an almost comical degree. The only thing you need to remember is that we, the publishers, want to get paid ASAP in order to get you your hard earned money as well, so rest assured, we’re chasing them as much as you would be!

What actually has to happen to land a sync deal?

Getting a European TV advert (alongside adverts in general, movie trailers and computer games etc.) is classed as one of the ‘big’ syncs that everyone in the music industry is fighting for (and I mean everyone). It’s an extremely competitive marketplace and to increase your chances of landing one it’s best to work with a sync team who really know what they’re doing (like our sync team at Sentric Music who have been nominated five years running as ‘Best Indie Publisher’ at the Music Week Sync Awards *drops mic*).

For your music to be synced on anything at all two copyrights need to be cleared; the master copyright and the publishing copyright. Be sure you know who controls both of these copyrights and that they know how to get hold of one another in case they need to discuss clearing the track in question for a sync opportunity.

Stereotypically the master copyright is controlled by whoever paid for the recording. So traditionally this would be the record label, but in the modern emerging music industry we all know and love, this is now quite often the artist themselves.

The publishing copyright is controlled by the publisher (which is what we are here at Sentric), but keep in mind that a track might have a number of songwriters who may all have different publishers and those publishers might have sub-publishers in various territories – all of which would need to give permission in order for a sync to go ahead depending on where the license is being generated. And I mean all of them – even if someone who owns just 1% of the publishing copyright says no to a sync deal, the song simply can’t be used.

The upfront sync fee is split between the master & publishing copyright holders, so a £100,000 sync fee is split £50,000 to the publisher and £50,000 to the label. These two parties almost always receive the same amount of money as one another and this is referred to as ‘MFN’ – Most Favoured Nation – which essentially protects either party from being taken advantage of.

This is why it’s imperative that the two copyright owners are in cahoots and communicating regularly. If a sync deal worth £100,000 (£50,000 per side) was on the table and the publisher said ‘yes’ but the label said ‘no, we want £60,000 for the master rights’ then the client would have to match that and also pay the publisher £60,000, therefore, the original offer of £100,000 would have to increase 20% to £120,000

Here at Sentric, we represent an artist who released an album which went through a subsidiary of a major label in the States. One of their tracks was up for a small movie trailer for a reasonable enough fee of $35,000 (so $17,500 for each side). We were happy and the band were bloody chuffed (as they had actually split up at this point so this was essentially bonus money), but the label tried to push it up to $20,000 for the master rights and the client didn’t want to pay $40,000 in total so they pulled out of the deal and everyone lost out. Bad times.

This is also a reason why it’s extremely attractive to music supervisors and sync agents to license music which is ‘one-stop’. This means that the master & publishing copyrights can be agreed and licensed from a single contract which makes their life significantly easier. Here at Sentric, if we’re working with an artist who owns their master copyrights we always ask to also represent those rights for sync so therefore we can pitch the track as ‘one-stop’ and therefore significantly increase the chances of landing a sync for the song.

Remember that the bulk of a music supervisors’ job (especially Stateside) isn’t actually creative; it’s clearing copyrights and tracking down who represents what in which territories. If you can make their job as easy as possible for them then they’ll bloody love you for it. Because we’re all slackers at heart, right?

So what does sync pay? Well, the factors that influence the fee you can charge for a sync include:

  • Territory. The more territories the more money you can charge. A worldwide license will be significantly more expensive than a UK only one and you can even go as specific as regions, I.E; North-west only, Scotland only etc.
  • Length of license. The longer the license, the more you get. We’ve done three-day long film festival licenses right up to those which are in perpetuity (never run out).
  • Media. Is it an advert for TV? Is it going to be on the radio? Is it just for YouTube? The bigger the usage, the larger the invoice.
  • Profile of the artist. Ultimately this is still the key. The big money syncs still go to the big profile artists. The majority of syncs we do here at Sentric for emerging artists range from £1k to £20k with the occasional £100k+ deal making a pleasant appearance, but until you become a household name don’t expect to be banking any huge cheques in the immediate future.

NEXT: Month 11 – The Song Is Performed At A Music Festival.