The sync sector has been hit by the coronavirus, with productions shutting down and advertising campaigns on hold.
Music publishers have spoken to Music Week about the impact of the lockdown on the sector.
Here, Manners McDade creative manager Clare Everson offers advice for artists and songwriters on adapting sync strategies during the pandemic…
I have been reading two schools of thought during this pandemic. Number one is that we must be proactive and productive so as to come out a better and stronger person. The second is to not to feel the pressure, and if we’re lucky enough to come out safe from this, then we shouldn’t feel that we must write three albums, double our streaming figures and learn five languages during this time.
I am totally of the opinion that managing to look after yourself and keep your mental health stable during this time is the absolute priority. What I do know can be a struggle for many is the feeling of being stagnant, or not ‘progressing’.
For artists and writers who usually look forward to sync opportunities, either for composition or licences, the changes in the media world to advertising shoots, TV productions and filming have altered the usual routes for opportunities: so how can writers adapt to bolster and optimise their opportunities for sync whilst in lockdown?
Whilst your usual sync revenue stream might be affected, this time could be an opportunity to find something new that works for you and double up sync support for your future career. If you are looking to ease a feeling of stasis, here are a few ideas for how to keep active in your sync stream.
Research using industry publications such as Little Black Book or Campaign, who provide access to new work and music sync trends and see if you could rework one of your own tracks in a new style. Are there any themes in your lyrics that resonate and therefore could be the focus of a rework? If brands are your usual go-to, then explore other media, either by watching indie films and focusing on the score more closely, listening to game soundtracks, or watching several trailers exploring the music used on different film-genres and edit one of your existing tracks to suit the music structure in a trailer.
Collaborate and create
Reach out to another writer or artist, pick a particular track that you have in mind and see if they’d be interested in a rework. Can you do a remix swap? Perhaps there are other writers on the same publishing roster who are interested in collaborating, as we love to encourage with our roster. Potential for sync should never drive your artistic output, but maybe there is a one-off track you think could have potential for pitching.
One theme that does come back every year is Christmas. Write a Christmas cover. Now could be the time to show what you can do for M&S Christmas 2020.
Potential for sync should never drive your artistic output, but maybe there is a one-off track you think could have potential for pitching
We have seen a range of artists going ahead with releasing an album, and others postponing. Instead, could you use the time to create a library album? When your commercial release usually always takes priority, could this be a time to write music specifically for sync and benefit from the additional revenue to support your career in the long run?
Listen to new genres you might not usually explore and see if there are any ideas that spark something new in your music. At Manners McDade, we hear amazing results from cross-genre influences, and I am often asked to suggest music specifically with that uniqueness in mind. Find new sources of inspiration from a wider pool than you usually look; whether that’s in music, or photographers, directors, choreographers and beyond, to see how other media can influence the music that would be synced. Panels such as Pitch and Sync’s Make Noise series, the music column of online publication Gal-Dem, as well as the Free The Work database, and many more sources can help to diversify these influences.
Get ready for when people are looking for music. Revamp your online presence, making sure your DSP pages, website and socials are optimised as much as possible. Publicise your livestreams and see who you can reach in this time! Having an online profile can really help to sell a track, in my experience, especially if you are an up-and-coming artist with an excited fan base, as your music and artist profile can bring something special to a campaign.
Is there an instrument you’d like to learn that might help you explore a new sound, or support your live performance? Or is there a technical area such as mastering, mixing, that could benefit your knowledge in the long run. Use online sessions or videos to tune in to masterclasses, or check out the sample libraries and virtual instruments on Spitfire Audio. LABS is their free software instruments and they also run an insightful online Composer Magazine for learning about scores, films, composition and more.
And perhaps a point with a larger purpose; could you use this time to make a change in the music industry? Is there a youth group, college, or initiative who would benefit from you reaching out and offering a virtual masterclass, such as the work done by FutureDJs or the Young Urban Arts Foundation. Could you be a role model to help define the future of the music industry, as well as benefitting yourself from being a mentor? Manners McDade launched a composer mentorship scheme several weeks ago, for composers in lockdown, and Shesaid.so runs several industry mentorship schemes, but informal mentoring can also be having a relaxed chat with one person who reached out to you before.
Certainly, if you are lucky enough to be with your family at this time, enjoy the time with them. The sync world and music industry as a whole can have stressful and awkward deadlines, evening and weekend work, travel and pressure. So support your future self by finding new avenues and opportunities for sync revenue, but also try to use these tools to make yourself more efficient and flexible so that you have time for the people and experiences that matter to you.
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