From Korean coffee commercials to Season 3 of Stranger Things, CD Baby is landing prime placements for its artists that may have serious impact on their careers. Music synchronizations, though still a small fraction of music revenue, are a fast growing part of the music earnings pie.
CD Baby, in its efforts to support all sides of independent musicians' careers, knows sync placements are key to many artists' careers. It's broad catalog's ability to service so many music users is why CD Baby has doubled down on its sync efforts in parallel to its fast growing publishing administration offering that works with over 200,000 songwriters and publishes over 1.3 million songs.
On the other side of the sync equation, music supervisors and show runners have discovered that if they need a really good singer-songwriter track in the Philippines language Tagalog or if they need a truly unusual subject matter like vampire, they can go to the sync team at CD Baby. "Music teams come to us for mainstream music, the kind you'd expect shows to need, but also for the niche stuff," explains Brett Byrd, CD Baby Licensing and Publishing Representative. "We don't have a niche like some catalogs - we have every niche, so we can serve the overwhelming majority of those opportunities."
"Our catalog is so broad and massive that we can get very specific," adds Jon Bahr, VP of Creator Services. "We have made it easily searchable with streaming data as a guide so quality options are a click away. We have a version of most things people are looking for. We're approached a lot for tracks in a language besides English or with very culturally specific elements. From Spanish covers of pop hits to Russian Hip-Hop, we have it all."
Recent placements of note include TV shows like Stranger Things, What We Do in the Shadows, Narcos, Seal Team, and American Idol; ads for brands like Delta, Jeep and Volkswagen; brand content with the likes of Condé Nast, Facebook and Marriott; and films like Inspector Pikachu. CD Baby's sync team has discovered how profoundly global sync has become. For example, Volkswagen France's television commercial used a CD Baby-pitched delicate acoustic guitar score by a Filipeno artist.
CD Baby's other sync advantage, beyond its massive and extremely diverse catalog, lies in the indie nature of its artists, who often can grant the rights to hold both rights of the song - the master sound recording and the underlying composition). To allow for artist flexibility, the Sync Service is on an opt-in basis when distributing and is non-exclusive so that the artists have the rights to license themselves if an opportunity arises. The clear rights picture and the ability to only deal with CD Baby, who already have the pre-cleared rights to license, means a music supervisor knows working with CD Baby will be a quick and hassle free process.
Making life easy for supervisors leads to amazing twists of fate for artists, whose unique work may wind up taking off in ways they never imagined. "For a lot of artists, especially in more niche stuff, a placement is more than they've made just from sales and that is exciting," Byrd says. "With the placement on What We Do in the Shadows, you could watch the comments on the band's YouTube channel and see how many got to the song from that show. On top of the upfront payment for the sync itself, a placement can contribute to other backend streams, sales and royalties."
Licensing's core outlet of shows, ads, films, and other media with always be valuable and have large visibility, but other music uses where a licensee might need access to the entire range of CD Baby's catalog are another exciting area of business. These range from event music for live streams (since CD Baby controls millions of assets on YouTube) to background music for businesses to powering whole libraries for companies. "We are able to service a company the way stock music might serve them on a blanket license or rate card basis," notes Bahr. "We power the music in high-end hotels throughout Asia, for example. They use CD Baby artists' music for the various areas of the hotel and we uniquely can offer localization so the spa in Malaysia is just as authentic as the spa in Thailand. It's all local music we distribute and administer, but we just happen to have local artists in every country in the world. If you don't need a specific hit, but want a lot of quality released music - we guarantee we can supply what you need. You might not know the artist, but they are real bands and as a distributor we make sure it's all detectable by Shazam, another positive side for artists and music supervisors alike. Try Shazaming stock music."