Music Business

Music sync had a record year, 3 experts share predictions for what’s ahead

2022 was a record year for the music sync business, with revenue from TV, film, and advertising up an impressive 29.9% year over year by the midyear mark.

As a new year begins, three sync veterans, Trevanna Tracks Jennifer Freed, CrossBorderWorks’ Vickie Nauman, and CD Baby’s Chief Revenue Officer Christine Barnum, look back on and share predictions for the year ahead.

Vickie Nauman on the Evolving Forms of Sync Licensing in Gameplay 

“The music industry has many forms of sync licensing – traditional film/TV, gaming, UGC micro-sync, A/V digital fitness, and platforms, each garnering dramatically different fees,” says Nauman.

“In gaming, we are seeing a new trend towards more integration of commercial music instead of the traditional hire-a-composer approach. This is exciting for artists, labels, and publishers because it is not only a growing revenue stream but also a path toward the immersive discovery of music by gamers.”

“Gaming companies are also learning that commercial music can enhance the gameplay and feel of mood and era and that music licensing isn’t (always) as scary as they’ve read in the news.” 

Jennifer Freed on the Emerging Tech Solutions for Sync Licensing in Film and TV

“We predict 2023 will be a breakthrough year in moving from patchwork, in-house, or insecure systems to advanced, collaborative, cloud-based solutions that will drive productivity, cost-savings, and more informed decision-making. Until recently, sync licensing and clearance remained underexplored, even as entertainment technologies have evolved.”

“We’re starting to see an increased interest in addressing and better managing the complexities inherent to the workflow, including communication and tracking between music licensors and the licensees who want to use music in their productions. Studios, streamers, video game developers and the music supervisors they hire are now faced directly with the question of how they plan to adopt technology.”

“Awareness has become a recurring topic across industry events and articles, and now bespoke tools built specifically for this category have emerged.”

CD Baby’s Chief Revenue Officer Christine Barnum on Continued Growth

Sync will still be growing as more original content is created, despite an economic downturn. With ad-supported versions of major streaming services, people can still watch their favorites (and yet-to-be-discovered favorites) even if they cancel their subscriptions. All of this new content being created (to the tune of billions of dollars per service) will need music. Despite AI being the topic of the day, I don’t think AI music creation will be ready to supplant traditionally created music in ’23, but it could be in a couple of years, particularly for lower-budget creations. For now, music supervisors will have to sift through thousands of tracks daily, plus existing catalog, to find the perfect piece.”

Bruce Houghton is the Founder and Editor of Hypebot and MusicThinkTank, a Senior Advisor at Bandsintown, President of the Skyline Artists Agency, and a professor for the Berklee College Of Music.

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