In the past 24 hours, I have heard two absolute experts in sync licensing give contradicting information about the direction of the value of sync licenses.

As the music industry comes back to full health, is the value of individual sync licenses going up or down?

One theory is since copyright value has increased through streaming, supervisors and their teams now view music as valuable again leading to increased budgets for music licensing. Continuing with this line of thought, supervisors know the labels (and publishers) don’t “need” the money as they did a few years ago, so they are able to convince their higher ups and even their clients that higher budgets are required to clear songs.

On the other side, there is an increased volume of content, especially digitally. In advertising, digital uses have customarily been less lucrative than TV. I haven’t seen them inch forward to match the budgets of TV licenses. With the increased amount of digital touch points and various spots required for each campaign, budgets often need to be stretched to the limit to accommodate several smaller licenses as opposed to just one larger one.

So which is it?

While sync licenses may have been more expensive ten years ago, I don’t think their individual relative financial value has changed much in the past few years.

Regardless of which direction sync revenue is moving, the value of the exposure is highly coveted. As it becomes more difficult to get noticed amidst the never ending stream of new releases, artists are as interested as ever in having their music synced (especially in culturally relevant places, such as hot TV shows) in order to reach new audiences. Syncs can elevate an artist at steaming services or radio by showing there is interest for the song elsewhere.

Regardless of how big a specific sync may be, one license is not typically breaking a record. For example, “Feel It Still” by Portugal the Man was featured in several commercials, including spots with iPad and Vitamin Water, whereas you would be challenged to find a song which broke in the last year solely from one sync.

Sync licenses are one element of the diverse array of the promotional mix required to break artists today.

“A sync in a vacuum will generally not move the needle. You need to have multiple aspects of the artist’s marketing plan working simultaneously in order for a synch to make even a small impact.”

-Jeannette Perez, Head of Global Synch at Kobalt Music

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