AIM’s Sync Conference 2014 – Part 2: The illustrious panel


Synchronisation Licensing Panel

Following on from Part 1 of AIM’s Sync Licensing event (found here) I bring you Part 2 – the Synchronisation Licensing panel discussion. Because it’s Monday and we’re all struggling to stay awake / read / remember our own names, I’ve narrowed my thoughts down to a manageable list.

But first of all, who are these beautiful and important people?

  • Andrea Madden – Music Supervisor for Made in Chelsea
  • Duncan Smith – Senior Music Supervisor at Sony Computers, London (Little Big Planet, Gran Turismo, Singstar)
  • Ed Bailie – Music Supervisor at Leland Music (John Lewis, O2, Hovis, Nike)
  • Simon Raymonde – owner of indie label Bella Union (Chair)
  • Matt Biffa – Music Supervisor at Cutting Edge Group (Harry Potter, Fresh Meat, Snatch)
  • Tara Austin – Senior Brand Planner at Ogilvy & Mather
  • Theo Seffusatti – Chief Executive of Warp Music Publishing
  • Thomas Golubić – Music Supervisor at Super Music Vision (Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, Six Feet Under)


What Emma heard (and learnt):

1) Sync is a “weird process of seduction” 

As Matt explains, producers often only want well-known artists like The Who and Led Zeppelin, which can be tough on budgets and creativity. Thomas describes it as a “weird process of seduction” persuading them to use lesser-known tracks.

2) Artists have the right to say no (and quite rightly)

There’s always a risk that an artist won’t let you use their music. Tara once offered Brandon Flowers her bone marrow to use The Killers’ “Human” for a Dove advert and he still refused. Advertisers once tried to use Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” to promote haemorrhoid-relief products. Surprisingly this was turned down…

3) Publishers and labels should be respectful of time and budget constraints

Often a track has to be cleared in half a day. If labels/publishers respond and clear licenses quickly, music supervisors will always go back to them. They should also be transparent about the cost from day one. Time is everything – a quick no is always better than a drawn out maybe.

4) Music supervisors are very open to receiving music, just don’t be aggressive

As Thomas says, “if it’s thoughtful, contains metadata, effort and not presumptuous or aggressive it’s ok.” Offer streaming links as well as sending mp3s and Ed suggests adding useful tips like “try tracks 2, 5, and 7 first” if sending albums.  Don’t bother with CDs (but vinyl is a bonus according to Duncan). Matt will accept bribes in the form of toys for his kids.

5) Big games have huge budgets

Duncan explains that big games such as Gran Turismo will often have higher music budgets than tv shows, films, etc. They’re also looking for a more varied selection of music, depending on the territory (bigger acts are usually wanted for the US, whereas more unknown artists are sometimes preferred for Europe).

6) Matt Biffa likes to swear. A lot.

He also has great hair and impeccable dress sense.

7) Forge relationships

Email is good but Theo explains that meaningful relationships should be developed between music supervisors and labels, publishers, etc. Thomas agrees that events like this encourage this intimacy.

8) Music supervision is challenging

As Ed describes, “so many people have opinions and music is so subjective” so it’s basically about “pleasing a lot of people in a short amount of time.” Thomas says that “ultimately there’s a hierarchy and the music supervisor (unlike the actors) is replaceable.” Always fight for quality. Or try another job.

E x

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