We recently caught up with Concord sync execs Brooke Primont and Adam Gardiner to temperature of the global sync market.
Primont was recently elevated to Executive Vice President, Global Sync, positioning her at the helm of Concord Music Publishing’s worldwide sync team, while Gardiner recently joined as Senior Vice President, International Sync.
Here, the two discuss the state of the market in 2023 and the secrets to Concord’s sync success…
How would you describe the sync market currently?
B: Obviously we are stressed about the writer’s strike and keeping tabs on it. We haven’t seen any repercussions just yet, but in the past few weeks we’ve seen a little bit of a slowdown. But on the pitching front the team are still getting as many searches and new projects.
Something that’s come up recently is we’re seeing reduced terms when we get ad requests. In the past perhaps we would license something for a year with an option for another year. We’re currently seeing six weeks, one month which is not the best. But that’s a trend we’re seeing.
A: I think the writer’s strike will have a trickle-down effect. But on that subject, producer friends are anticipating that the studios may try to circumnavigate and set up more projects through the UK.
The SVOD market looks like it’s steadying so it’ll be interesting to see how that develops. It can only grow so much year on year, but in general the sync business is looking pretty good across the world.
Advertising is still the big beast of sync, but I think in each of the territories we’re seeing more diversifying in terms of where we’re making our money.
We’re seeing a lot more repurposing and resurrecting of old content on SVOD platforms. How does that impact on sync revenue?
B: A lot of these older shows are coming back for expanded rights for streaming services and that has been very profitable for us because Concord has a huge catalog of big copyrights that were used in those shows.
Adam – you recently moved to Concord after over a decade at Universal Music Group. What’s that transition been like?
A: I think the most obvious thing is that I’ve moved from the record side to the publishing side. Publishing is different because the sync business is so much more integral. For me, the most enjoyable part of the job is the proximity to our writers who we work really closely with.
“On the publishing side there’s a lot more coordination internationally.”
– Adam Gardiner, Concord
On the publishing side there’s a lot more coordination internationally. At Concord the international setup is incredible. And I think as the sync market grows globally it’s gotten bigger, but at the same time it’s kind of getting smaller. A few weeks ago, our UK team was in a meeting with the manager of an Australian rock band, and he was talking about how much sync activity his artist has had in America. This is an emerging artist at the start of their journey, but they are making significant money in sync.
B: I’ve also worked on the label side in the past and, like Adam was saying, what’s more enriching on the publishing side is working with the songwriters. It’s not just, here’s a recording, go pitch this. It’s more what can we do with you as a songwriter?
How’s 2023 treating the Concord sync team so far? What are your biggest priorities?
B: We’ve been doing really well this year. What we’re focusing on now is trying to push our catalog of Evergreen copyrights and working very closely with our new signings that our A&R team has as priority and trying to get those mid-level artists placed so that they can further their careers.
A: It’s been really interesting getting to know the Concord catalog. We saw this in the pandemic particularly, that even when the volume of work dropped slightly, it was paramount that advertisers were using big songs because it elevates the brand. And it’s interesting to see how that translates to other territories. We’re seeing it in Portugal and South America as well.
Bespoke writing to picture is interesting as well. In the UK we didn’t have a big TV market for many years. Now we do a lot, so we’re growing that UK film and TV team and creating bespoke songs. That just wasn’t possible five or six years ago, so that’s exciting.
B: We also do big business at song camps. We have ones coming up in Mexico City and Paris and we just had a hip hop camp in conjunction with Pulse, in LA.
What’s an example of a notable sync this year?
B: We had a big Lancôme spot this year featuring a cover of “What a Wonderful World” by a French artist. It came through our sub-publisher in France, but it was a global spot and one of the biggest placements that we’ve had.
What gives Concord the edge in sync?
B: We have a really good grasp of our catalog and what our clients need. We have every type of music, every genre, every budget level. It’s really diverse. Our team has a really good ear, and we really like working together. We’re 11 people in the US, 5 in the UK, 2 in Berlin, and 5 in Australia and New Zealand, and then we’ve got our sub-publishers that we work very closely with in the other territories. I think it’s all about our relationships.
“We have a really good grasp of our catalog and what our clients need. We have every type of music, every genre, every budget level. It’s really diverse.”
– Brooke Primont, Concord
A: The communication is constant between all the different teams and that’s reflected on the A&R side as well. Whenever a writer comes over to the US from the UK they come in and see us, and vice versa.
B: We have weekly Zoom listening meetings where the whole team listens to new songs and signings, so everybody’s ears are on it at one time throughout the week.
AI is the topic of the moment in the music industry. What are your thoughts on it?
B: I think we’re in this spot right now where we’re really trying to take the good from it. You mentioned searches – we get reference tracks where we can run something through that way, and have it tag metadata and that’s really helpful.
I’ve been experimenting with AI to create songs to see how they come out. I put, ‘create a sad song for a medical TV drama’ and it came out in 20 seconds, but it was pretty bad. I think it’s probably a little bit scarier for production music than for a publisher or record label. But we’re keeping an eye on it.
A: AI is much, much bigger than any of the other issues we’ve probably faced before and is developing at a terrifying rate. But I also think there’ll be so many good things that come from it. It’s probably too early to say how exactly it will negatively impact the industry. It’s definitely not there yet from producers and people I speak to. I’m sure it will be at some point.
“It’s going to affect the whole of society. This isn’t just a music thing. I think AI will have huge impact, but I’m not sure anybody knows yet exactly what that will be.”
– Adam Gardiner, Concord
It’s going to affect the whole of society. This isn’t just a music thing. I think AI will have huge impact, but I’m not sure anybody knows yet exactly what that will be. I think we just have to strap ourselves in and enjoy the ride. It’s a fascinating time to be in this industry.
Where are you seeing new opportunities in sync?
B: There’s a section of our catalog that we’re trying to reinvigorate. There are songs that perhaps aren’t on the front line of being pitched but are still very syncable and have a lot of potential, so we’re digging through our back catalog and offering those out in new ways.
As far as the future, we’re just really keeping an eye on what happens in the sync world and the strike and we’re always looking for new business wherever we can.
A: I think there’s far more opportunities now for broader catalogs. When I first started working in music, I didn’t think I’d be excited about working with Rodgers and Hammerstein, but it’s actually really interesting to see how a catalog like that can be utilized across the world in various different campaigns.
Sync’s never static so it’s always very exciting creatively.
There’s also a lot of hype about the Metaverse and Web3. How big an opportunity do you see that as being?
A: There’s already a bit of drawback by Facebook in the Metaverse and it’s not quite delivered what everybody thought it might. Not to say it won’t, but I think you need to be patient on these things. You need to take a long view and see what the direction of travel is before making any rush decisions. Ultimately, it’s the same process for us. It’s another partner and way of licensing music. It’s all about staying on top of these things, just making sure that we’re fully informed.
What changes would you like to see in sync?
B: A big thing for us is diversity within the sync market and really pushing our artists of color and minorities and trying to make sure everyone is given equal footing. I feel very passionate about that.
“A big thing for us is diversity within the sync market and really pushing our artists of color and minorities and trying to make sure everyone is given equal footing.”
– Brooke Primont, Concord
A: On a day-to-day aspect, I would say just making sure that our writers get paid for the work that they do. The work they do is incredible, and particularly in sync can absolutely elevate and change a campaign. These writers have to give a lot of themselves and it’s important that they’re getting recompensed. I think that’s crucial because the value of music sometimes can be a little bit overlooked in certain sectors.
B: We’re pitching to music supervisors and those people are definitely champions of artists. It’s the people behind the scenes that are making these budgets slashes. Music supervisors will do what they can to get the writers, labels, and publishers as much as they can. But sometimes it’s just out of their hands.
Other recent notable Concord syncs include:
- “So Long, Farewell” as a Visual Vocal (written by Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein) in the Richmond Till We Die final season promos for Ted Lasso on AppleTV+. Also used in the series finale and released on DSPs.
- “Time”(co-written by David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Rick Wright of Pink Floyd), performed by Pink Floyd in trailer for The Flash (Warner Bros Pictures/DC)
- “Furious” (Co-written by Bianca Landrau pka BIA for the film), performed by BIA in trailer for the film Fast X (Universal Pictures)
- “>1 (Greater Than One)” by ericdoa (written by Eric Lopez pka ericdoa) was written specifically for the Valorant Gecko Agent Release Trailer.