Synch License Administrator

  • Synch License Administrator

A synch (synchronization) license for a musical composition is an agreement that gives the licensee permission to reproduce a song “in connection with” or “in timed relation to” visual images. When a previously recorded song is played in a movie, television show, commercial, or other visual medium, a license must be obtained from the copyright owner.


Duties

The synch license administrator is primarily responsible for receiving and reviewing requests for synch licenses and for conducting research to determine copyright ownership, splits, and applicable fees. In support of the larger licensing or royalty department at a music company, the administrator will maintain the synch licensing database, collect cue sheets from licensees in relation to the usage of the composition, and act as a liaison to clients to resolve revision requests. He or she will also determine when a mechanical license is necessary in addition to the synch license, and report that information to the client. For each request, a report is generated which details project and composition information, ownership, and fees; that report must be approved by the department manager, and then the license and invoice can be generated by the administrator. This person must regularly audit the database to ensure accurate and timely information, and may be required to monitor fee collections related to synch licenses. The administrator can address simple disputes over contract agreements, but complex contract negotiations must be directed to the appropriate manager. It is then the administrator’s job to deliver all pertinent research and contract information to the manager in defense of the company’s position.

Skills & Education

A bachelor’s degree is typically required for this career, and majors in music business, communications, or a related field are recommended. Also helpful are courses in copyright law and communications law. These classes are offered at most universities as part of undergraduate studies. Employers are interested in candidates with proficiency in Office software applications as well the capability to adapt quickly to proprietary database systems. The synch license administrator must have a strong knowledge of the music industry and thoroughly understand the process of music licensing.

What to Expect

Positions exist for synch license administrators within larger music publishing houses—anywhere that owns a substantial song catalog. This is considered an entry-level position with appropriate education, but carries with it a considerable burden for accuracy. A lot of money changes hands over music licensing, and it is your responsibility to make sure that the right people get the credit and payment owed them. What’s more, a botched licensing agreement may ultimately land the feuding parties in court. This job demands that you be meticulous in your research and reporting of ownership information, and that careful attention is paid to ensuring the accuracy of the database. An internship in the licensing or royalty department of a music company is an excellent first step toward a full-time position, and will afford you the experience of learning the industry from the inside. This will give you an edge over your competition and establish you as a knowledgeable candidate for employment.

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