Ask a Sync Expert
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A music supervisor shouldn’t need any consultant for sourcing music – that’s the fun part of the job – plus licensors will be more than happy to suggest lots of their well curated music to a music supervisor. And I work with people from all over who I have never met in Los Angeles, but since a lot of music supervision is a post production job, and post production tends to take place in LA – working here is a good idea.
This is a good reason to have a deal in place BEFORE you record anything so that you can settle the issues of ownership and control before it becomes an issue. Everyone involved should get together and mutually agree who gets what before you sign off on any sync deal. A dispute after someone has agreed to license a song is NOT a good thing for anyone.
The master rights don’t automatically go to the entity that funded the project unless the “deal / contract” for the song in question states that it’s a “buy out” for those specific rights.
Mechanical licenses only apply to audio only formats – you would need to issue a license to use a master recording ONLY since presumably you do not control the publishing. The original writer and their publisher would control the right to license the underlying composition and without that license, your master use license is essentially useless. Both master owner AND publisher must agree to license the song to an audio-visual production. You can request to get the same fee as the publisher, but your ability to license the recording will be at the whim of the writer and their publisher.
If you have the connectivity to approach a music supervisor directly, go for it, but be respectful of their time. If you hit them too often, you’ll never hear back. Find a kind balance of communication, so the music supervisor doesn’t feel overwhelmed. Synch agencies are a good route because many of them of established relationships in place with music supervisors. It doesn’t hurt to approach music sup’s yourself if you are able, but also go through an agency. Teamwork is always good. Just make sure you’re not both approaching the same people.
Here are several great resources for finding the right sync agency:
As an indie artist you might want to consider going through platforms such as CD Baby, or trying to get your music represented by a sync agent (please see the previous question for a list of sync licensing companies / agencies).
Alternatively if you want to send your own music directly to music supervisors, they typically prefer getting links to stream music, e.g. from Box.com, with the added OPTION to download (do not ever send mp3s/other music files as email attachments). Remember that barriers like having to sign in or links that expire will not do you any favours. And most importantly of all – accurate metadata is key.
Here are a few links that might be useful:
- The Guild of Music Supervisors’ Suggested Metadata Standards
- From Pitch to Placement: The Essentials of Sync Licensing
- SynchStories: Joel C. High’s tips for artists and catalogue owners
- What Music Supervisors Wish You Knew
Hope that helps!
There are so many variables here that I wouldn’t know what to quote! By “original song” I’m interpreting this to mean, what should a producer pay an artist/songwriter to create an piece of music for a documentary. Documentaries rarely have big budgets, so whatever you can afford! This very much depends on the overall budget of the film, the turnaround time, whether or not the production wants to own the rights, the stature of the songwriter and artist (maybe they’re the same person?).
It’s a similar situation if you’re licensing an existing song. In the case of licensing an existing song the overall film budget and the requested media rights, term and territory largely determine fees. The more you request (e.g. all media, worldwide, in perpetuity) the higher the fee. Can you limit it to only three years? Internet streaming only? The length and type of usage (vocal vs. instrumental) affects the fee as well, but to a lesser degree.