An artist’s guide to getting synced

All the gear but no idea?

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Find out how to get your music synced with the following advice I picked up at the 2014 Paris Sync Summit:

  • Keep your website information current and contact methods clear. If you’re handing out CDs make sure your details are on those too. Robert Kraft (Kraftbox) says it’s “astonishing” how many people don’t do this. He produced The Little Mermaid soundtrack, you should listen to him.
  • Send music supervisors stream links using sites like SoundCloud as well as download links.
  • Mary Ramos (Quentin Tarantino’s music supervisor) suggests sending an edited section of a song that you think might fit in a particular scene (especially if pitching for commercials or short durations in film/TV).
  • Mary also advises including a cover in your submission. “Supervisors are always looking for fresh takes on old songs”, she says. Just don’t be stupid and cover Led Zeppelin.
  • Peter Bradbury (Head of Music, Sky) suggests that artists should spend time editing and mastering instrumentals. Don’t just view them as the track with vocals removed.
  • Network and be personable and unique in your approach, both online and in person.
  • Make use of metadata! As Dave Philpot (Head of Sync, Believe Digital) puts it, “if it’s called ‘track one’ by ‘unknown artist’ you’re stuffed, and you’re an idiot.” Include song title, artist name, and contact details.
  • Research what movies / TV shows are in production / post-production on IMDb.
  • As Marcy Bulkeley (Music Director, Wild Card AV) says, “get specific with your pitches.” Tell us exactly what you think your music would be good for – e.g. X-Men, not just “action films” or “romantic comedies.”
  • Focus on quality not quantity – send SMALL amounts of great, dynamic music.
  • Last but not least, make sure your music is clearable before sending it. Otherwise what’s the point?

That’s it for now! More cool stuff from the Sync Summit coming soon…

E x

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How to survive Monday

We all have it. That song we listen to when we’re walking down the street that makes us feel cool. I mean really, really cool. So cool that we sort of pretend we’re in the music video, mouthing or singing along to the bemusement of others. We almost definitely don’t look cool, but god do we feel it.

Now I know you’re probably thinking what does this have to do with sync music? Well it’s Sunday afternoon which for most means the dread of the Monday commute has begun to set in. This is exactly the time when you need the songs that make you feel great. The ones that make it slightly less painful to to be squashed into someone’s armpit on the tube. So I’m treating your life as a TV show and I’ve decided to music supervise your journey to work (you’re welcome).

The average commute for us Londoners is 56 minutes, so I’ve compiled a list of precisely that length. Here are the songs that work for me, and might work for you too:

  1. Alt-J – Fitzpleasure
  2. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Gold Lion
  3. Ray Charles – Hit The Road Jack
  4. Modest Mouse – We’ve Got Everything
  5. Marvin Gaye – Sunny
  6. If You Want Blood – AC/DC
  7. One Direction – What Makes You Beautiful (ok, this is embarrassing)
  8. Neil Young With Crazy Horse – Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
  9. Busta Rhymes – Break Ya Neck
  10. Fleetwood Mac – Go Your Own Way
  11. Jay-Z – 99 Problems
  12. The Beach Boys – I Get Around
  13. Black Sabbath – Paranoid
  14. The Cure – Just Like Heaven
  15. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Give It Away
  16. The Mars Volta- Inertiatic Esp (just to check you’re still awake)

If none of these float your boat, check out a selection of songs chosen by some of my lovely followers:

  1. William Onyeabor – Fantastic Man
  2. Muse – Uprising
  3. Paolo Nutini – Pencil Full Of Lead
  4. Marc Teichert – Time
  5. Foals – My Number
  6. Bryan Adams – Run To You
  7. The Monkees – I’m A Believer
  8. Lady Gaga – Venus
  9. Bee Gees – Staying Alive
  10. Donna Summer – Hot Stuff

I’m now going to leave you with 5 pieces of wisdom to help you survive your commute. Click on the gallery below:

Good luck.

E x

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Interview with Experience Music Group

EMGlogo

The powers of the internet recently led me to discover Experience Music Group, a boutique music licensing, audio branding and artist management agency based in Beverly Hills, California. They’ve placed music in ads for the likes of Coca Cola and Sony, and in films and TV shows such as I Love You, Man, The Osbournes, Shameless (US), Homefront, The Big C, and Damages. 

I particularly like the fact that they work with indie artists, so I decided to have a little chat with co-founder Evan Stein…

Emma: What made you want to start Experience Music Group?

Evan: Martin and I had started a record label in 2003 and quickly realized that the business model was evolving.  We had some relationships with music supervisors and were intrigued by the power of sync licensing and what it can do for an artist’s career. After researching the marketplace we noticed that there were only a handful of companies pitching indie artists for film, television and advertising syncs.  We saw an opportunity to help indie artists gain exposure and make a business out of it at the same time.

Emma: How involved do you guys get in the creative process?

Martin

Martin Weiner

Evan

Evan Stein

Evan: We mostly leave the creative process up to the artists.  We really only get involved if we commission an artist to write a song for a specific spot.  We have collaborated with artists on theme songs for television shows, jingles for advertisements and songs for movies.

Emma: How does the sync licensing process differ with each medium? (TV shows, movies, ads, etc.)

Evan: The process for each medium is very similar: the Music Supervisor contacts us with their music needs before their project enters the production phase. We submit music that we feel best fits their search criteria.

The main difference between the mediums is the timeframe.  The process for a TV show is the quickest due to the episode turn times. A music supervisor will generally reach out to us a few weeks before an episode airs to clear a track we submitted.  The cool thing is that we know immediately if the track ends up being used.  Film and Advertising on the other hand is a much longer process. There are more parties involved (the producers, directors, music supervisors, film studios, creative directors, ad agencies and brands) and they all have an opinion.  The process can take up to a year or longer and allows much more time for opinions to change about the music.

Emma: Coolest part of your job?

Evan: The coolest part of our job is watching our artists grow and gain new fans through our syncs.  We were the first company to land a sync for Imagine Dragons and it’s truly amazing to see how big they are now.

Emma: Worst part of your job?

Evan: The worst part of our job is working with an artist on a specific spot for over a year and then having to tell them that their song was runner up.

Emma: Sync you’re most proud of and why?

Evan: In 2008 we synced “Good Times” by Latch Key Kid in Coca-Cola’s Super Bowl commercial “Jinx.”  This sync holds a special place in our heart because it ultimately put Experience Music Group on the map.  A few months after the spot first aired the director of the DreamWorks movie “I Love You, Man” John Hamburg licensed “Good Times” for the opening credit sequence and soundtrack of the movie after discovering it in the Super Bowl spot.

Emma: What would be your dream job as music supervisors?

Evan: Our dream job would have been to work with John Hughes on any one of his films. His soundtracks defined a generation for teens during the 1980s.  He had a special talent in using music to capture a range of teenage emotions.  Spandau Ballet’s “True” personified high school heartache, Simple Minds “Don’t You Forget About Me” encapsulated the romance and OMD’s “If You Leave” redefined prom.

Emma: Are you guys open to receiving music from musicians?  If so how should they get in touch?

Evan: Yes we are definitely open to receiving music from artists and the best way to get in touch with us is through the submissions page on our website

Emma: Any artists you’d like to recommend?

Evan: We represent so many talented independent artists on our roster and would love to recommend them all.  A few artists that we are really excited about are Terraplane Sun (60s sunshine pop meets down & dirty blues-infused rock), VEVA (sexy electro pop), Mikey Wax and Dan Godlin (melodic rock and pop singer/songwriters).

Emma: Can you tell us about any exciting upcoming projects?

Evan: We music supervised this hilarious teen film called “G.B.F” which is opening in London this Friday, March 21st.  We also executive produced the motion picture soundtrack for “G.B.F” which was recently released by Lakeshore Records.

G.B.F._Official_Film_Poster G.B.F_(Original_Motion_Picture_Soundtrack)

Huge thanks to Evan from Experience Music Group. For more details on what they do check out www.experiencerecords.com.

E x

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Rufus-avaganza

Rufus Wainwright

I became a fan of Rufus Wainwright the moment my (then) 15-year-old self heard that rich, haunting warble of “my phone’s on vibrate for you” during an episode of Nip/Tuck. Since then I’ve heard his music pop up all over the place in film and TV, from Brokeback Mountain to The OC.  I’d say that he’s the first artist I discovered through a TV show that I’ve really come to love, so who better to dedicate my first artist-based blog post to.

Now I’m not exactly alone in my admiration for Rufus. Elton John has hailed him the “greatest living songwriter”, Michael Stipe claims he “stands next to Nina Simone”, and Martin Scorsese has dubbed him a “one-man Greek chorus.” But the strange thing is that, despite these accolades, he’s never quite achieved the huge commercial success that he deserves.

Born into his profession (his parents are folk singers Kate McGarrigle and Loudon Wainwright III), he started touring with his family at the tender age of 13. And as you might imagine, the 40 years he’s lived so far have been anything but ordinary. He’s survived family conflict, being raped aged 14, and an addiction to crystal meth that left him temporary blind to become an unbelievably prolific artist.

So far Wainwright has released 7 studio albums, 2 live albums, a best of, written music to accompany Shakespeare’s sonnets, composed music for multiple films, toured extensively, performed Judy Garland’s famous Carnegie Hall concert several times, AND is in the process of writing his second opera. Yes, opera. I’m exhausted just writing about it.

But how to describe his music? Well that’s a tricky one, as he acknowledges in a recent interview with The Independent:

“I’ve always been a very peculiar artist; nobody can quite figure out where to put me.”

His music is more likely to make you cry than jump for joy, his deeply confessional lyrics lamenting over lost or unrequited love. But he’s also articulate and witty (a self-described “tragi-comedian”), and has been blessed with a voice that sounds like melted chocolate.

The song he composed for Brokeback Mountain, titled The Maker Makes, is not only my favourite Wainwright song, but also one of the most achingly beautiful pieces of music I’ve ever heard (just read the lyrics). Other highlights of his compositions featured in film/TV include Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk, Vibrate, and a stunning cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.

Speaking of Cohen, Wainwright recently fathered a baby with his daughter Lorca Cohen. Viva, now 3, is raised by Wainwright, his husband (the German art curator Jörn Weisbrodt), and her mother. With this upbringing I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we see her name on an album cover twenty years down the line..

Not one to shy away from the crowd, Wainwright describes his recent 40th birthday celebration as a “Rufus-avaganza”. Stupidly talented, unashamedly outspoken, and definitely a little bit bonkers, there probably isn’t a better word to describe his life.

Emma’s Rufus Wainwright Sync-tastic Playlist

1) Vibrate (Nip/Tuck)

2) The Maker Makes (Brokeback Mountain)

3) Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk (Last Kiss)

4) Hallelujah (Shrek)

5) Chelsea Hotel No. 2 (Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man)

6) Leaving for Paris (The OC)

7) He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother (Zoolander)

8) This Love Affair (Elle s’en va)

9) Complainte De La Butte (Moulin Rouge!)

10) Across The Universe (I Am Sam)

E x

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

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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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AIM’s Sync Conference 2014 – Part 1: Interview with Thomas Golubić

Tim Ingham interviewing Thomas Golubić

Tim Ingham interviewing Thomas Golubić

On Monday evening I headed to Proud Camden for AIM’s sync music conference. In addition to the obvious attraction, there were two words that led me to this event: Breaking. Bad. Yes, Thomas Golubić, music supervisor of this monumental show (and Six Feet Under, The Walking Dead, The Killing) was going to be interviewed. A mere blogger, I felt both excitement and trepidation for this night amongst music supervisor superstars.

The event kicked off with a welcome address from Steve Lewis of Synchtank, a man with quite the CV (ex Virgin Music & Chrysalis executive and founder of Stage Three). Next up was the star of the show being interviewed by Music Week’s editor Tim Ingham.

After a show of hands of Breaking Bad fans (98% of the room), Tim began by addressing the fact that music supervision isn’t exactly a career you’re told about at school. First a journalist and then a radio DJ for 10 years, Thomas explained that he only discovered the vocation about a week before he started. A champion of interesting new music, he was advised to look into A&R but knew he would “fail miserably because ultimately cool interesting bands don’t make any money.” He then stumbled upon music supervision and realized that he really liked the idea of “storytelling through music.”

Eloquent and modest (the guy’s been nominated for a Grammy twice), Thomas described Breaking Bad as the most difficult project he’d ever worked on. He was shown the pilot and found it “the most exciting hour of TV he’d ever seen”, but felt that the music was “trying too hard”. His own spin on the music is both subtle and outlandish, helping to emphasize those jaw-on-the-floor moments the show is known for. For example, the upbeat “Catch Yer Own Train” by Silver Seas is juxtaposed with a scene showing Walt sinking further into his life of crime and deceit. Thomas is getting into the character’s head – it may look bad to us but Walt is “having the best time of his life in a horrible way.”

As with any project of its kind, the budget and rights clearance were factors that proved a “constant challenge.” With only $20,000 allocated per Breaking Bad episode for music (compared to $200,000 on Six Feet Under), he had his work cut out.  He attributes this to the show being on AMC, a smaller network than giants like HBO, also suggesting that music was “perhaps overvalued in the past”, making his job all the more difficult. On the upside, I’d argue that these financial constraints must be partly responsible for Thomas’ wide and innovative choice of music.

A huge music geek at heart, he’s obviously passionate about what he does. Whilst he recognizes that sync licensing has the potential to break an artist, he says that his job isn’t to sell records. “Most sync licensing happens out of serendipity”, he explains, and the main purpose is to “tell a story”. If it helps an artist to succeed then great, but he advises bands not to put all their energy into getting a sync deal. For a man who fell into his profession and had to “wing it”, he’s done a pretty good job. He is either the jammiest or most talented music supervisor in the business, and after the last (incredibly insightful) 45 minutes I’m definitely leaning towards the latter….

E x

Expect part 2, a summary of the sync licensing panel discussion, very soon….

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Soho Music Event At Mother London

Last Thursday music supervisors Soho Music kindly invited me to their event downstairs at Mother London. I was pretty excited about this, not just because it was the first event I’ve been asked to attend as a blogger, but also because it was going to feature an acoustic performance from Mercury nominated artist Ghostpoet (AND there was a promise of pizza).

The venue (Mother London) is the UK’s largest independent ad agency, and the creative brainpower behind campaigns for Ikea, Boots, Money Supermarket (Snoop Dogg!) and many more. Soho Music puts on showcases in agencies every few months, ranging from lunchtime sessions to fully-fledged evening productions. Carly, one of the lovely team members explained why:

“It’s a great way to interact with our clients, and get people thinking about music in a really creative way. It’s also a great way to introduce agencies to new music and artists which we think are relevant to the brands they work with… and really, who doesn’t like a party!”

I arrived on the night to sound checking and a glorious aroma, as the Soho Music team appeared having raided Pizza East. After taking time to appreciate the agency interiors, complete with a wall of portraits of employees’ mothers (!!), I had a drink and introduced myself.

The gig was set up in a small room with an elephant’s bottom in one corner (yes, you heard me). Ghostpoet and his acoustic band, including a great female vocalist, began their set with ‘Cold Win’, an emotion fuelled track from his latest album Some Say I So I Say Light. Next up is ‘Them Waters’, a song about the Thames, and ‘Plastic Bag Brain’, my favourite so far with its catchy guitar hook. The man himself, born Obaro Ejimiwe, is funny and down to earth, addressing the room as ‘mum’ and ‘mama’. After several more songs, including ‘Survive it’ (his “mantra”), the band ended with ‘Meltdown’, a reflective track about the aftermath of a relationship.

After the gig we all headed for more drinks round the corner, and I had a brilliant time getting to know everyone. Interested in the work Soho Music had done recently, I asked Carly to tell me more:

“I think some of our favourite recent syncs would have to be the Schwartz ‘Sound Of Taste’ campaign we just finished working on with Grey, where we got MJ Cole to score a beautiful piece of piano music for the film. The music was actually written first, and the film shot around it – which is quite an unusual way to work. We are also very proud of the Coke #reasonstobelieve campaign we worked on. We found the song (You Got The Love) and talent (Milly Pye) for this, as well as licensing the music and overseeing the re record. It was great to be involved in so many aspects of the creative right from the very start.”

All in all I’d like to thank Soho Music and Ghostpoet for a fantastic evening!

E x

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