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What is Sync and how to make your music more syncable

Sync, short for synchronisation, is something that you are both aware and unaware of. Sync is the perfect union of music and dynamic visual elements, meticulously selected to add impact and emotion to any scene. Because music is now so prevalent across all media, you probably don’t even notice this fusion occurring in film, television series, advertisements, video games, and trailers but without it, the director would struggle to create the immersive experiences for their audience that we have all come to expect.

At the heart of sync lies the collaboration between music creatives, publishers and their discerning clientele, most often music supervisors or film producers. Music supervisors have in-depth knowledge of all kinds of music and use this knowledge to create the sonic landscapes which enhance the visual narrative that the producer or director are looking for and this is not as easy as it sounds!

music sync deal with producers and publishers in studio to get tracks used for tv and film underscore

For music publishers, securing a sync license for a major release is hugely advantageous, offering their writers and producers exposure at far greater levels than would be otherwise possible. In fact at various points this has been so valuable that the music supervisor for a very successful US TV drama series, once exclaimed that publishers and labels should be paying them (the production company) for offering such an important platform to their creatives!

A sync license grants authorisation for such exploitation and initiating the sync process involves either strategically pitching music to these arbiters of sound, highlighting its pertinence and suitability for the project or negotiating the right deal if the music supervisor is requesting use of a release previously available to the public as a record. For either case, building enduring relationships with music supervisors is essential for successful outcomes.

One crucial stage in the post-production process is the 'dub' stage. This occurs when the picture editor has completed the film or program, known as 'picture locked.' Dubbing mixers then bring together dialogue, music, sound effects, and commentary to create the final audio mix and the publisher must make sure to provide all files in the correct format as well as the correct metadata to enable the creatives and the publisher to collect performance royalties although this complex area is worthy of its own blog post.

For general background purposes, what makes a piece of music syncable are a few specific characteristics. These include maintaining a constant mood throughout and avoiding significant dynamic, key, or tempo changes that could easily disrupt continuity.  Additionally, avoiding bright and distracting top lines, especially in the same frequency range as the human voice, is an absolute must as unless the music is a feature of the production, it is there to support and not dominate the scene. Fades must be avoided as whoever is editing in post production will need to control this during the dubbing process.

To maximise flexibility, production music providers must also offer various versions of tracks as well as stems, ensuring that the music can be tailored to fit different visual contexts seamlessly.

Overall, the sync process relies on collaboration, creativity, and attention to detail to create memorable audio-visual experiences for audiences, who whilst they may not notice the music in a production, would certainly notice its absence.

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