What Is Sync Licensing (Music in Movies and TV)

Sync licensing is about getting permission to use a specific song in visual media like movies, TV shows, or commercials. By doing this, the people making the media can use the music legally and make sure the composer or copyright owner gets paid fairly.

Sync licensing involves two rights: the master right, which covers the recording of a song and is usually held by an artist or record label, and the composition right, usually owned by the songwriter or publisher of the song. Music supervisors and sync licensing companies play a key role in curating the right music for projects and negotiating licensing deals with copyright holders. 

When working to secure a sync licensing deal, it generally involves submitting your music to the appropriate music supervisors or licensing companies and staying proactive in promoting your work

1. Understanding Sync Licensing

Sync licensing is when musicians make money by allowing their music to be used in visual media like movies, TV shows, video games, and ads. To do this, they need to get permission to put their music together with the visuals. There are two parts to this:

  • Synchronization fees: These are one-time payments the production company or advertiser pays to the artist for using their music.
  • Royalties: These are ongoing payments made to the artist for every time their music is used in relation to the visual media.

Sync licensing is important for musicians because it can make them money and help them reach new fans. When their music is used in popular forms of visual media, they can earn more money and grow their network.

2. The Role of Music Supervisors and Sync Licensing Companies

The roles of music supervisors and sync licensing companies are essential in the music licensing process. 

Music supervisors choose the right music for movies, TV shows, and other projects. They make sure the music fits the project, work with people who own the music, and keep things within the music budget.

Sync licensing companies work on behalf of musicians and composers to promote their work to potential clients in different media industries. These companies’ services include:

  • Managing a curated music library for clients to browse and license.
  • Handling contract negotiations and licensing agreements.
  • Making sure of the payout of synchronization fees and royalties.

Check out our list of the top 10 music licensing companies to know more.

3. How to Secure a Sync Licensing Deal

Sync licensing isn’t just for big artists. Landing a deal means following some steps to boost your chances of getting your music in visual media projects. Here’s what you usually need to do:

  • Cover your bases: Make sure you’ve got all the copyrights and registrations sorted for your tracks, like the composition and the master recording.
  • Metadata matters: Include all the important info for your tracks, like song title, genre, composer, and contact details. This helps music supervisors find and consider your songs for their projects.
  • Mix it up: Put together a diverse collection of professionally recorded music with different styles and vibes to fit different projects.
  • Team up with a music library: Get your music into well-known music libraries that work with music supervisors and production companies. This can up your chances of getting sync deals by showing off your tunes to the right people.
  • Grow your network: Connect with music supervisors, sync licensing agents, and other people in the industry.
  • Keep at it: Always be pitching your music for projects and keep updating your catalog based on what the industry needs.

4. Tips to Increase Chances of Sync Placement Success

If you’re a musician looking to up your chances of sync placement success, keep these tips in mind. Doing so can help you lock in licensing deals and build lasting partnerships in the media industry:

  1. Make great music: Make sure your tracks are professionally recorded, mixed, and mastered. The better your music sounds, the more likely it’ll be picked for visual media projects.
  2. Hold on to all your materials: Be prepared with a main and instrumental version of your song, as well as the stems just in case.
  3. Know what media projects need: Learn about the specific needs and preferences of different media projects, from movies and TV shows to ads and video games. Shape your music to fit these various visuals, and you’ll have a better shot at securing placements.
  4. Keep your social media channels engaging: This can help grab the attention of music supervisors who might be interested in your music.


Sync licensing is a great way for musicians to make money and grow their audience by getting their music in movies, TV shows, video games, and ads. It’s all about knowing how sync licensing works, the roles of music supervisors and sync licensing companies, and the steps to land a deal.

Keep in mind to have your materials ready, understand the needs of different media projects, and maintain an engaging social media presence. Make connections in the industry, and you’ll be on your way to signing sync licensing deals.

Brian Clark

Brian Clark

I’ve been a writer with Musician Wave for six years, turning my 17-year journey as a multi-instrumentalist and music producer into insightful news, tutorials, reviews, and features.

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