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The C-levels at a music publisher I used to work at would drop by my cube once every few days. All nice people, they did their best to be friendly when asking “working on anything big?”
They’d ask that question because I was the person who had developed a system and brought in deals (licenses worth anywhere from $15K-$400K per side). My answer was typically “yes, I’m always working on something big.”
Because that is true. When you work in syncs you are always working on something big. A big commercial, a big film…but the biggest deals always take the most time and are the quickest to fall apart.
So asking someone if they have anything big cooking is a bad question. What higher-ups should be asking is “how did you do that and why did it work?”
But bad questions are just the start.
The leadership in the music industry generally doesn’t understand how pitching songs for sync placement works. Indies generally don’t know who to talk to while majors don’t know how to systematize their efforts.
When a huge deal happens, how it works and why it works is an afterthought – if it’s even a thought at all.
Instead the response is “Great – how much money are we getting?”
Learning how to improve sync systems is a crucial element now more than ever for record labels and music publishers. But instead of addressing this fundamental issue most music industry leadership only wants to know how much money they’re getting for the next big deal.
Which would be fine if labels were paying half-decent salaries to sync experts who knew the ins and outs of pitching and licensing music. People who have analyzed metrics and created strategies to continually land deals and find new sync opportunities.
But they don’t.
They spend barely enough money to compensate someone with 3 years experience, has almost no contacts, and doesn’t know the first thing about client relationship management.
Sometimes a record label will luck out and get someone great…someone they eventually drive away with laughable “raises” and a lack of understanding of one of the only profitable areas of the music industry.
This is why labels and publishers chronically miss out on licensing opportunities.
Not understanding this incredibly crucial area of the music industry and how to build effective systems around it can result in missing high-exposure synchronizations and hundreds of thousands of dollars.
It doesn’t take a huge investment for a record label or music publisher to start really reaping rewards. But the old music business continues to plow ahead blindly.
Most execs know they want more sync revenue but don’t know how to get it.
Leadership is surprised when the 25-year-old new-hire doesn’t even know she’s in a sales job, struggles for years, is scrambling to randomly build connections and loses money in the process. Until years later she starts to figure it out and lands her first big deal.
Then she starts getting asked:
“Working on anything big?”
Andy Lykens is a music branding and marketing specialist for Imagem Music, the world’s largest independent music publisher. Follow him here.