A recap of our trip to LA for Sync Summit.
October 23, 2015
By Ben H. Quandt
In late September, Ben Rosen and I from The Gunnery contributed at Sync Summit, a music conference in Santa Monica, California. Billed as a meeting of buyers and sellers in the music synchronisation business, it was attended by a wide range of individuals, from heads of music as major networks (NBC, Disney), music disruptors (Spotify, Shazam), music supervisors and licensors through to artists and musicians alike.
Music synchronisation is a small (2%), but growing segment of the global music business. With the massive decline in physical record sales, replaced initially by digital downloads, which have too seen a huge decline, in favour of music streaming, the music business has been under siege for the better part of the last 15 years. Globally, the music industry is worth some $15bn. This is down from a peak of around $25bn in the late 90’s.
Music synchronisation (that is music synced to film, tv, advertising, and interactive) is seen now as a viable way for both established artists and independent artists alike to draw either additional revenue and exposure, or to eek out a basic living. What used to be seen by the music industry as ‘selling out’ commercially, is now seen as a key way to build their own personal brands by associating with popular culture and brands.
The conference covered topics including music in television, in film, in interactive, independent music, branding and advertising, and licensing. Naturally, with the laws of supply and demand, sync fees are likely not to break any records anytime soon – certainly for independent artists: The sheer volume of supply far exceeds the demand. That is arguably not the case for established or legacy artists; if a brand wants a Taylor Swift track, they are probably willing to pay whatever it takes.
This is the big challenge for independent artists; you are trying to be seen bobbing along in an ocean of music. Another issue which many music supervisors brought up was meta-tagging tracks. If they like a track and its not tagged correctly with all the pertinent information (particularly the composer and contact), then they will move on, and you will miss out. If there was one big takeout from Sync Summit it was this: Music supervisors have to sift through astonishing volumes of music in limited amounts of time.
In Singapore the process is a little different. The playground for our compositions is rather more limited to advertising, as there is precious little television content made here, and the music budgets are rather more limited. Think about what we have on television (and indeed what most of us consume), it is by-and-large American shows. Overall, Asia (with the exception of Japan) represents a small music market. Growth areas include South Korea and China, but on the global scale are dwarfed by the top handful (US, Japan, Germany, UK, France).
About the author
Ben’s professional career has revolved around management and business development across diverse sectors; retail, reciprocal trading, international publishing and media, entertainment, and now, the music business.
Ben has directed nation-branding strategic communications projects in conjunction with foreign governments and investment boards seeing him establish remote business units in fifteen countries – spanning APAC, Eastern Europe, Caucasus, Middle East & Levant, Africa and the Caribbean, interviewing Heads of State, government ministers, central bankers, and chief executives – and publishing with The Times of London, The Wall Street Journal, and The Guardian.
During his time in the reciprocal trade industry, Ben was responsible for planning and directing multi-million dollar corporate excess inventory deals in Australia, UK, and US; and co-ordinating client trade between thirteen global offices.
In his capacity at The Gunnery, he is implementing and overseeing diversification and expansion projects.