Overview and analysis of the music sync landscape
Written by Marcus O’Dair, Associate Professor, Music and Innovation, Middlesex University, in partnership with Music 4.5
Synchronisation, or sync, rights emerged, historically, in response to a shift in cinema: from silent films to talkies. Sync, quite simply, refers to the use of music in
conjunction with visual images – for instance in a film, advert or computer game. Although sync is sometimes understood as related only to publishing, to sync a
track to a TV show is in fact to exploit the ‘reproduction control’ of both the song and recording copyright; the ‘communication control’ of both the song and recording copyright, meanwhile, are exploited when the TV show is actually broadcast. A sync license, then, requires permission to use both the master recording and the composition, as represented through master use and publishing rights.