×

How Synchs Changed the Game for Lizzo, Bebe Rexha and Halsey

Getting the right synch or licensing opportunity can make a career. Just ask Lizzo, whose single “Truth Hurts” fizzled upon its initial release in September 2017. But after a lyric from the song inspired the #DNATest challenge on social media platform TikTok the following year, the brassy tune became a runaway smash. It was followed with a feature in a pivotal scene in the film “Someone Great,” released to Netflix the same day as her breakthrough album “Cuz I Love You” in April.

For a then-relatively unknown artist such as Lizzo, the timing and opportunity couldn’t have aligned better, yielding a No. 1 single, hundreds of millions of streams and subsequent brand partnerships for campaigns with Absolut and Urban Decay.

It’s a case study in how important choosing the right song can be to elicit the largest impact, and how valuable syncs and licensing continue to be as their market share continues to rise. In the first half of 2019, synch revenue in the U.S. (commercials, films, TV and gaming) totaled $129.1 million, according to the RIAA, while in 2018, global synch revenue ticked up 5.2%, per the IFPI. And as any synch stakeholder will tell you, licensing a song brings in actual cash at significantly larger numbers than the fraction of a cent that an audio stream commands.

But beyond revenue, there’s an equally valuable, and increasingly tangible, benefit to consider. “If you get a synch in an ad campaign that has a large media buy attached to it, it can change everything for that song because you get that repetitiveness,” says Liz Lewis, VP, strategic marketing and commercial synch at Warner Records, who appears alongside executives from Samsung, Paradigm Agency and BBDO at Music for Screens. “It’s almost like having your song on heavy rotation in a radio station. That’s definitely where you see the biggest difference made.”

For Warner, that meant adding exposure and brand awareness with key placements for English pop singer Rita Ora, whose ballad “Soul Survivor” played during the Super Bowl for a Bumble ad featuring Serena Williams, and blues artist Gary Clark Jr. He appeared to perform one of his songs in an ad for Harman Kardon Audio. Another Warner artist, Bebe Rexha, collaborated with Lay’s potato chips for its “Turn Up the Flavor” campaign featuring jingles written by the pop star. Capitol’s Halsey, in another instance, earned her first chart-topper as a lead artist in January when “Without You” was featured in a Beats ad in late 2018, four years after her debut.

While synch royalties have so far been down 1.5% in the U.S. in the first two quarters of 2019, revenue is expected to once again post an overall increase in the subsequent fiscal quarters based on past performance, leaving the rest to the artists and labels to maximize exposure.

“I think there are going to be more ways to connect the dots once we get a synch for the artist,” says Lewis. “We’re doing everything we can to circle around it and make sure that anyone who hears that song knows that it’s our artist.”

More Music

  • Paul Rosenberg

    Paul Rosenberg Stepping Down as Head of Def Jam

    Paul Rosenberg, chairman and CEO of Def Jam Recordings since January of 2018, is leaving his post at the company, a source close to the situation confirms to Variety. Rosenberg, who has managed Eminem since early in the rapper’s career and continued to do so throughout his Def Jam stint, will presumably focus on his [...]

  • Yola

    Yola to Play Sister Rosetta Tharpe in Baz Luhrmann's 'Elvis' (EXCLUSIVE)

    British musician Yola will play singer Sister Rosetta Tharpe — dubbed the Godmother of rock and roll — in Baz Luhrmann’s musical drama “Elvis,” sources tell Variety. The Warner Bros. film stars Austin Butler in the title role, Tom Hanks as Elvis Presley’s manager Colonel Tom Parker, Maggie Gyllenhaal as Presley’s mother and Rufus Sewell [...]

  • Tim McGraw Announces Return to Big

    Tim McGraw Announces Return to Big Machine in Country Radio Seminar Surprise

    Tim McGraw announced his return to the Big Machine in a surprise appearance at a Country Radio Seminar luncheon being hosted by the label group Friday in Nashville. “Uh, Tim, I missed you!” deadpanned a beaming Scott Borchetta, Big Machine’s founder, president and CEO, as McGraw emerged from behind a curtain. “I missed you too!” [...]

  • Ozzy Osbourne's 'Ordinary Man': Album Review

    Ozzy Osbourne's 'Ordinary Man': Album Review

    Whether as co-founder of Black Sabbath or as a solo artist, Ozzy Osbourne spent his life and art (at least, the non-reality television part) conjuring death, summoning its spirits and welcoming its hold on heaven or hell. You know the drill: his albums were filled with graveyards, devils and bloodlust. At times Ozzy was ferocious, even [...]

  • BTS Leads Spotify’s New Music Friday

    BTS Leads Spotify’s New Music Friday Playlist Rebrand

    Spotify has launched a global rebrand of its popular New Music Friday playlist, which this week features BTS, The Weeknd, Noah Cyrus, Trippie Redd, Kenny Chesney, Rei Ami and others. The revamped playlist, which has 43 versions worldwide, has more than 3.5 million followers in the US and eight million globally. New elements include a [...]

  • Revelries Sign With Edgeout Label via

    Revelries Sign With Edgeout Label via Universal’s Catalog Division

    Louisiana band the Revelries has signed a development deal with Edgeout, a label that will release music via Universal’s catalog division UMe. The band is managed by Red Light. “Edgeout Records is committed to discovering the next generation of rock artists,” said label chief Tony Guanci, who signed an exclusive global deal to release bands [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content