Music Business

Sync Briefs: Your Key To Music Placements In Ads, TV & Film

by Clay Mills
Sep 29, 2022

Randall Foster is Vice President of Business Development and GM of the Nashville office of a digital distribution company called Symphonic Distribution. Prior to his current role, Randall was the leader of the Creative Sync & Licensing for ole music publishing where he oversaw a vast catalog of music copyrights and intellectual property and managed the outside usage and licensing of those assets.


Chapter 1: Examples Of Music Briefs

Chapter 2: Do Your Writers Write A New Song For Every Brief?

Chapter 3: What Trends Or Subjects Are Best For Sync Writing?

Chapter 1: Examples Of Music Briefs

The majority of the briefs I receive are advertising briefs. The agencies have a very quick turnaround normally. Usually, it’s about 24 to 48 hours on a timeframe. A perfect example of a brief is: Midwest supermarket chain needs to find music for an upcoming campaign. Here are the details, 30 seconds worth of music. The usage details of four weeks TV and cable broadcast, and six states in the mid. Followed by one year on the internet. Music should be kitschy, cheesy or fun, or all three with key lyrics about not wanting to be alone. And then it goes down the budget. Now for the fun part, I need your thoughts and ideas and music by 11:00 AM Eastern tomorrow. And that’s very typical.

Here’s one, pretty general. It was an ad for a sporting event. In the brief they wanted something that was not too obscure. Well-known preferred, must be interesting, energetic, and make the sport look fun and not daggy, which is Australian for lamb or dorky. A lot of cases when they list a reference they’ll list a YouTube link, so you can click on it and go straight to the reference and hear it and really hear what the vibe they’re going for. But you know, they were looking for songs that were about having a good time and that just conveyed that vibe.

Chapter 2: Do Writers Write A New Song For Every Brief?

I’ve always been pretty good about sharing briefs with the writers and making them available. At our company, I’m really there to pitch and secure licenses, but I’m also there to be a resource to our writers and have our writers come in and sit down and play me music and talk to me about the shows they’re watching and what do we think works about the music? What do we think doesn’t work about the music? And so, I share the briefs pretty openly within the camp. But it’s usually such a tight turnaround that it’s not something where we have enough time to really pull it off.

There’s been a couple of instances, probably a dozen times in the last two years where we’ve had people really sit down and write for sync briefs. We did have a music camp where we had a music supervisor calling in and literally saying, “okay, this is what I’m looking for. I need songs for these scenes”. And we put people in a room and had them write and by the end of two days we had 30 brand new songs that were pitched and sent over for placements.

Chapter 3: What Trends Or Subjects Are Best For Sync Writing?

I’ve kind of kept a running list of the stuff that we just didn’t have bunch for. The non-sexual love songs, we can’t get enough of that. Positive, upbeat songs about how good life is. Anything that is positive, or upbeat is great.

Clay Mills

Clay Mills

Clay Mills is a 16-time ASCAP hit songwriter, producer, and performer. He is the co-founder of SongTown and has 2 Grammy nominations for “Beautiful Mess” by Diamond Rio and “Heaven Heartache” by Trisha Yearwood. Clay is also the co-author of Mastering Melody Writing and The Songwriter’s Guide To Mastering Co-writing.


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