Music synchronization license – Lexology


A short guide for aspiring content creators / influencers

Have you ever watched an ad, heard a song you liked, and purchased it on iTunes? Have you ever watched an Instagram reel and Shazam’ed the audio used to download this song? If any of these are familiar to you, then the sync license is something you should know.


Music has been part of our lives since the dawn of time. It can be used to create a mood, to create an atmosphere or even to tell a story. In today’s world, music is everywhere, from the car stereo to the local mall and even in public spaces like airports and restaurants. It’s because music is so closely linked to movies, TV shows, and commercials that we expect it to be a part of any experience. But how does this happen? Have you ever wondered how a song you hear on the radio or a movie you watch syncs perfectly with the stage? This is where the sync license comes in. Simply put, a sync license or sync license agreement is an agreement by which the licensor, who owns the copyrighted music, allows the licensee to use the music and disseminate it with visual media.

What is the synchronization license?

To set things up, let’s start with a definition of sync licenses. Synchronization license is a license that allows the licensee to synchronize music with visual media in order to create and sell synchronization products (such as DVDs, games, etc.) that incorporate the music under Licence. For example, a store can purchase a sync license for a song it wants to use in its advertisement. This license is then used to sync the song with the store ad, creating an experience that encourages people to buy the product. Thus, ensure that the licensee (the store) and the licensor (the song’s publisher and / or the record company) mutually benefit from the process.

However, when copyrighted music is presented on a smaller scale like in social media posts / videos, podcasts, wedding videos, etc. Since this license takes place for smaller locations, the time and money spent to obtain it is also comparatively less than that of a regular sync license.

Role of sync licenses in social media

Any content that viewers consume on social media usually contains music – from YouTube videos to Instagram reels, music is a key component that attracts viewers. Whether it’s videos (a long form of content) or reels (short clips usually a few seconds long), the idea behind them is generally common, namely that the creator shares content related to fashion, entertainment, travel, food, etc. the defining factor that makes these reels trending is the amazing background music that matches the visual aesthetic so well. This is where sync licenses play an important role in the social media industry as well.

By focusing specifically on Instagram, the platform Updates and guidelines to include music in the video posted May 20e, 2020 state that, in accordance with the Made Available Music License Agreement, “there is a limited amount of recorded music that may be included in live broadcasts or videos.” The Guidelines state that if a user incorporates an entire song into their content, then there is a greater chance that such video will be “restricted”. Therefore, users have been recommended to create content that includes shorter music clips. In addition, users also have access to a library of free “custom music and sound effects” through Facebook’s Sound Collection.

This enables and encourages users to create new content without fear of takedown notices and copyright infringement lawsuits, thus increasing the popularity of the platforms. Additionally, such a short form of content increases the reach of the music, thereby increasing the downloads of the song and consequently the revenue generated.

The basics of synchronization licenses

The copyright in a song has several underlying rights which are often sold to different parties. But for the purposes of the sync license, the relevant aspects of each song to be licensed are the sound recording and the underlying composition. Therefore, when obtaining a sync license to embed audio in a visual format, the sync has two sides. The first is the primary use license for the original sound recording and the second is the publishing rights for the musical notes and underlying lyrics. For synchronization to occur, both must be licensed. But who are the rights holders on these sides? Usually, an artist or their record company will own the sound recording and will therefore be able to grant a master license. As for the rights of composition, they belong to the composer himself or to his publisher.

Since it is clear who to go to for a license, the next step is to determine which type of sync license to choose, as this will determine the scope of use of the licensed music. The different types of synchronization licenses are based on the type of media to which the license is applied. The most common synchronization licenses are for film, television, and video games. But there are also sync licenses for music for use in various other contexts including retail, commerce, marketing, education, public spaces, etc.

  • The decision-makers of the Sync-

Usually, the director has the final say in any creative decision associated with his work, such as a show, movie, or even a game. However, those who actually achieve the timing are called “music supervisors”. These experts are responsible for finding the right music for a scene or line, and then ensuring that they are allowed and allowed to be incorporated into the work, keeping all of these aspects within the allotted musical budget. But how do these supervisors get access to a plethora of music? The answer goes through sync agents, music labels / publishers, and sync libraries.

  • Sync License Agreement Clauses:

In addition to determining how the licensee will synchronize the music with the visual media, such an agreement will usually include clauses that specify the part of the song to be used, the territory where the video will be broadcast – local, national or international, the duration of the license. – in perpetuity or for a specified period, number of copies that can be sold, how much the licensee will pay to use the song – depending on the popularity of the song and whether the license is exclusive or non-exclusive.

  • Revenues / royalties involved:

Regarding the revenue generated by these licenses, in addition to the one-time royalty that the licensor will receive, he is also eligible for performance royalties. Performance royalties will depend on the medium through which such work is broadcast. Therefore, it also inspires independent and aspiring artists / composers to create music. In addition to increasing their income, it also helps them grow their fan base and expose their work to a wider audience.

  • Consequences of not obtaining a synchronization license:

The adage “prevention is better than cure” fits perfectly in the cases of obtaining music licenses. From deleting your content to deleting your account and in some cases even legal actions initiated (often by music industry moguls) – there is a higher price to pay for failing to obtain a synchronization license. So for all music creators and songwriters who want to post YouTube videos or DVDs of themselves playing a Justin Bieber song or singing Beyonce lyrics even if only for a few seconds, take a Licence.


There is no doubt that synchronization licensing, which is widely used on the global music scene, is a growing industry. So much so that the global synchronization license market is expected to reach $ 6.83 billion by 2024.

Due to the increasing accessibility of the internet and the emergence of digital databases, the two key stakeholders involved in this license agreement, the musical artist / recording studio / record label and the holders license as producers, have also benefited. On the one hand, the number of people creating their own original songs for the first time has increased dramatically. Therefore, the sync license is the perfect way to make music and distribute it to as many people as possible, and even make money by doing it. And on the other hand, the process of obtaining a sync license has become easier for licensees and producers thanks to the emergence of digital databases which have made it easier for publishers to locate.

So take a sync license and create!

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.