23rd September 2021
Month 12 – The Song Is Synced On A US TV Show.
Pure-Horse have had quite the year, haven’t they? Some may say they’ve had it *too* good if anything, but there’s still one extra cherry to go on top of the smorgasbord of cherries they’ve already consumed within the past twelve months and that’s a third sync for The Song; this time on a rather well known US TV show.
“The thing about Keeping Up With The Kardashian’s is, arguably, it’s one of the most important documentations of the progression, or conversely, regression, depending upon your stance, of popular culture throughout the past decade”, the bass player is currently stood in front of a short Powerpoint presentation about why they think the band should accept the sync deal that’s been put in front of them. After clicking onto the next slide that simply contains a picture of Khloe Kardashian with her eyes replaced with dollar signs, they turn to their bandmates and open the floor, “any questions?”
“Is this cool? Or are we being naff by agreeing to this?” the singer raises their hand whilst asking the question, because they’ve been brought up well.
“Let me answer your question with several other questions”, the bass player replies whilst placing their hands together so the fingertips are touching, but palms apart, “Is Arianna Grande cool? Are CHVRCHES cool? Is Billie Eilish cool? I could continue. All those artists, and many, many more, have all deemed KUWTK ‘cool’ enough to have their music featured. I assume that sufficiently answers your proposition?” At this, the singer nods and raises their thumbs to show their approval.
“If we say no to this, you’re going to threaten to leave the band, aren’t you?” the drummer asks, arms folded with a comically ungenuine surly look adorning their face.
“It’s fair to say that if this vote goes in the opposite direction of my preferred conclusion then I intend to throw all my proverbial toys from my proverbial pram, that is certainly an astute observation of you to make, dear bandmate.” the bass player agrees. They turn to the guitarist, “and your thoughts on this matter?”
“I literally couldn’t care less”, they lie. They’ve secretly watched every episode of The Kardashian’s since it launched and keeping their joy clandestine is taking all their might.
“Well I count that as two votes for yes with a further two parties abstaining. The motion carries. The Song is going to be on the show. I’m going to email Sentric immediately to give them the green light.” The bass player opens their phone to begin the mime of sending a confirmation email that they’d already sent three hours ago.
So when do they get paid? Approximately six months to eighteen months.
When you bag a US TV sync then it’s pretty similar to landing one on an advert in the sense that there is an upfront fee that will be paid to you by either the production company or the broadcaster, depending on who the license is with. As with any invoice, you’re at the behest of the payment terms of the company paying you, so you might get paid within 30 days or it might be 90. Then, if it’s coming via your publisher/label, they’d distribute your share after their commission at the next available distribution.
The reason it can take up to eighteen months is because in some cases, the licenses and invoices for syncs on US TV shows won’t all be fully executed and processed until the entire series has been ‘wrapped’ (which is daft TV industry lingo for ‘completed’). Therefore, if your track appears within the opening episode to a series of a show that can take a year to make and then the invoice payment terms for that company are 90 days, you’re looking at a year and a half to get paid. This is rare, but it does happen, so be aware and ask any one who is working your music for sync what you should expect if you manage to bag a deal.
In terms of how US TV sync works, it’s very different to over here in the UK. A music supervisor for a US TV show will get a set budget for music, say $100k for 100 tracks to be spread out across 10 episodes. They then need to stretch that budget out so it works accordingly, knowing that songs by bigger profile artists will cost more than songs by emerging artists. They might spend $50k of their budget on a single track for the key closing scene of the whole series, which means they then have $50k left for ninety-nine other tracks. This is where you as an emerging artist can make yourself really attractive to them by being a) cheaper than a chart-topper and b) easy to license, so this is where making your music the ‘One Stop’ can significantly increase your chances of landing a sync.
(To refresh your memory from an earlier post, when your music is ‘One Stop’ it means it can be licensed for a sync with a single piece of paperwork that covers both the master and publishing copyrights, including all the songwriters – it’s a music supervisor’s dream.)
Another thing to consider when licensing to a US TV show is the performance royalties that are generated every time the show is broadcast. If you land a track on a huge show like Grey’s Anatomy then that episode will then be aired in hundreds of territories around the world, generating a performance royalty each time it is broadcast. Therefore, if you can get on the show by only charging $1k up front, but knowing you might get $5k or more from the subsequent performance royalties it’s often a clever and savvy deal to do.
And to bring it back to the beginning of this rather lengthy journey we’ve taken with The Song; each one of those territories the show is broadcast in will have their own PRO, therefore having a publisher who registers your copyrights in as many PROs around the world as possible will mean you get paid quicker. Yet another reason why you should use Sentric. Lovely. For more information on how that works, check out WTF Is Music Publishing.
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