You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Variety Introduces ‘Synch This!’ — New Music Column Spotlighting Songs Ripe for Licensing

“Synch This” is a new Variety column written by MAC Presents VP and former Billboard branding reporter Andrew Hampp, highlighting new songs that we deem ripe for synch use. Insiders can skip over the “Synch 101” in the introduction, which will be linked to in future columns, to get straight to this week’s pick.

The term “synch” is a funny one – even if you’ve never heard it used before, it’s a convenient catch-all for something you hear every single day.

Short for “music synchronization license,” synchs have long been a prime method for music, new and old, to get discovered in TV commercials, box-office hits and the latest buzzy TV hit. So much so that synch revenue accounted for 2% of the recorded music industry’s global revenue in 2016, or roughly $314 million, an all-time high.

The first time I heard the term “synch” used it was in reference to “Unwritten” singer Natasha Bedingfield’s latest album Strip Me in 2010.  Though the project debuted at a disappointing No. 103 on the Billboard 200, a former colleague of mine still considered it a success because several of its singles “got amazing synchs,” referencing a high-profile ad campaign for NIVEA and movie trailers for the Rachel McAdams rom-com Morning Glory.

Not only does all that marketing spend serve as free promotion for artists during crucial album-release cycles, with national multi-month ad campaigns spending as much as $50-100 million in prime-time and digital ad dollars, the revenue generated from the synch can buoy an otherwise flat project for the artist and their label.

Not that it’s a music supervisor’s job to replace a radio programmer or major label marketing exec. Indeed, many of the most memorable synchs over the years have been from the use of classic catalog tracks, obscure oddities or deep cuts from music icons not looking for iHeart or Spotify playlist spins. But it can also be quite thrilling when the right song finds the right spot, to the point where you can’t imagine the commercial or the product itself without it – and vice versa.

One of the best examples of those commercials from the past five years is Christian Dior’s “J’Adore Dior” campaign starring Charlize Theron, with a synch from The Gossip’s “Heavy Cross.” In the spot, Charlize is seen running late to strut her stuff down a Paris runway (apparently alongside a digitally restored Marilyn Monroe, who we see in a neighboring vanity) while Gossip guitarist Brace Paine’s riff stutters along. By the time Charlize turns the corner to start storming the catwalk, draped head to toe in gold couture, the commercial unleashes its real secret weapon — Beth Ditto’s signature howl on that chorus. “I trust ya-a-owwwww!”

So for this inaugural Synch This! column, in which Variety will be shining a weekly spotlight on notable un-synched songs worth licensing, I thought it only appropriate to take a look at a track from Ditto’s upcoming project Fake Sugar, her debut full-length for Virgin/Capitol Records.

Though the rockabilly jam “Fire” was a more-than-welcome return to form for the “fat, feminist lesbian from Arkansas” when it dropped in April, the real stunner released so far is “Ooh La La.”

It has all the trappings beloved by car or cell-phone commercial music supervisors – hand claps, a recognizable riff, a gut-punching “Hunh!” where the more popular “Hey!” might otherwise appear  — but with a killer delivery from Ditto that swings from coquettish to carnal, the kind of quirks beloved by fashion and tech brands. Heck, it could even connect in France, with Ditto sprinkling in lines like “Please don’t stop ce soir” and “Je ne sais pas” throughout.

Beyond the fact that the right synch could give cult favorite Ditto’s solo career a nice boost (The Gossip parted ways in 2012), “Oo La La” is exactly the type of song ad agencies have been craving since the Phoenix-ization of the airwaves in 2009. It’s a capital “R” rock anthem at a time when such songs are seemingly near extinct from the mainstream, with the hard-earned authenticity from someone with more than a decade of great music under her belt.

Who’s to say that kind of cred couldn’t help sell the next Cadillac, too?

Andrew Hampp is a vice president at New York-based music sponsorship and experiential agency MAC Presents.

More Biz

  • The Edge, Adam Clayton and Bono

    U2 Tops Rolling Stones, Ed Sheeran as Highest-Grossing Touring Artist of the Decade

    U2 topped the Rolling Stones and Taylor Swift as the top-grossing touring artist of the 2010s, according to data from Pollstar. U2 grossed more than a billion dollars — $1,038,104,132, to be exact — although that number is likely to grow, as the group is currently on its “Joshua Tree 2019” tour in Australia, New [...]

  • supreme court byron allen comcast

    Africa Channel Owner, Congressional Black Caucus Blast Comcast Over Byron Allen Case

    The Congressional Black Caucus and an owner of cable’s Africa Channel have turned up the pressure on Comcast, blasting the cable giant for its business practices and legal strategy in fighting Byron Allen’s racial discrimination lawsuit. Paula Madison, an owner of The Africa Channel (TAC), issued a lengthy statement criticizing Comcast for what she characterized [...]

  • Def Jam Logo

    Layoffs Hit Def Jam Records

    Def Jam Records laid off several employees this week, including executive VP of brand strategy and content Noah Callahan-Bever and OJ Lima, senior VP in that department, a source close to the situation has confirmed to Variety. A total of seven employees let go, a number that includes regional promotion staffers not based in New [...]

  • The Story of Erroll Garner, the First

    The True Story of Erroll Garner, the First Artist to Sue a Major Label and Win

    It’s not at all unusual for artists to engage in creative or financial differences with their record labels, but only a few end up in court. Last year, Kanye West sued his label, Universal, and publisher, EMI, claiming that his deals amounted to “servitude” (the EMI suit was settled in September), echoing Prince’s famous battle [...]

  • Peter Gray

    Columbia Records Names Peter Gray Executive VP/ Head of Promotion

    Peter Gray, who stepped down as Warner Bros. Records’ executive VP/GM and head of radio promotion last year, is joining Columbia Records as the label’s EVP and head of promotion, sources tell Variety. He fills the role vacated by Lee Leipsner, who left the company in March. Gray’s appointment is the latest in a series [...]

  • U2, Seattle 14 May 2017

    U2 Drop New Song, ‘Ahimsa,’ Ahead of First Concert in India

    After a flurry of rumors on Thursday, U2 dropped their first single in two years: “Ahimsa,” a collaboration with Oscar- and Grammy-winning Indian musician AR Rahman, ahead of the group’s first-ever visit to the country next month. Rahman has a vast track record of film soundtracks and is best known for his work on the [...]

  • Sean "Diddy" Combs Revolt TV

    Sean Combs Slams 'Illusion of Economic Inclusion' at Comcast Amid Byron Allen Fight

    Sean Combs has come out swinging against Comcast in a lengthy statement prompted by the cable giant’s legal battle with Entertainment Studios chief Byron Allen. Combs accused Comcast of maintaining “the illusion of economic inclusion” in its handling of a carriage agreement with Combs’ Revolt TV channel. Combs was critical of Comcast for failing to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content