Waves Vienna Conference 2012: Sync Rights

One of the panels of the Waves Vienna Festival and Conference was devoted to an important issue in the music business: sync rights are not only relevant for agencies and studios, but also for music creators.

Bernd Jungmair (Cosmix/AT) emphasizes that young musicians can not only depend on sales and fees from performances. Particularly in the early stages of a career, starting capital is important. Thus, it is highly beneficial to work with the film and commercial music market. Wolfgang Schlögl (Musician/I-Wolf/Sofa Surfers/AT) supports this viewpoint as a musician. In his opinion, licensing allows you to gain money for other projects and especially helps to establish your own image.

It is important to know who to contact and how you are represented. In this case all panel participants are unanimous that a collaboration with a music publisher only pays off if it gives you an advance that would not be gained from royalties. According to Jungmair, many young talents fall into the cession trap. This means that the publisher determines a certain sum of money, which is redeemed by parts of the band’s revenues – meaning not only revenues made with the licensed songs.

Everyone agrees that money is not everything. However, it is often not only the bands that are poorly financially secured, this also applies to the film and advertising agencies. Of course it depends on whether you are referring to a company on national level or a company that buys international insertions. Although usually the lowest part of the budget is calculated for the music – especially in films – the expectations are high. Equally, the expectations of music creators are high, when asked about a song.

Curbing these expectations on both sides is difficult, according to Jungmair. The agencies want to have the rights for well-known songs that are currently in the charts, but the licenses are usually too expensive. Alternatives, such as composing around the song, have become a dangerous venture. The legal effects of obviously connecting the theme of a newly composed song with another song will not end well for the respective agency.

With her agency, Lisa Humann (Swimming Pool/AT) attempts to find reasonable ways out of such situations. Instead of representing internationally known artists, Swimming Pool works on a local level, which gives Austrian acts the chance to assert themselves. In order to qualify, it is useful to record an instrumental version of the song, which can be further processed.

In the end, it is still all about the relevance of licensing. There are possibilities to limit yourself to certain areas of advertising and to decline others, if they are not in accordance to your disposition. All panel speakers agree that commercials are not “evil” per se. It should be recognized as a decent source of income, which music creators should not be ashamed of.

Panel: Sync Rights
Host: Rainer Praschak (mica-music austria/AT)
Speakers: Bernd Jungmair (Cosmix/AT), Lisa Humann (Swimming Pool/AT), Wolfgang Schlögl (Musician/I-Wolf/Sofa Surfers/AT)

[Photocredit: Maria Hammer ©]