Sync Royalties 101: Sync Licensing, Sync Royalties, and Micro-Sync!


Synchronisation Royalties, also sometimes known as Sync royalties. Is the income musicians generate when a song gets played in a certain instance.
This usually means music for adverts, movies or TV shows. Songwriters and Publishers earn these Royalties via a PRO.

Want to know what a PRO is? Find out by clicking here to read Performing Rights Organisations 101: All About PRO’s!

So - If you make music - Let's start!

sync royalties

The Basics

Sync Royalties are fast becoming lucrative for music artists.

In short, Sync Royalties occur when music is played by a license holder. When this music is played at the same time with the medium the license allows. Hence the name of the royalty..."Synchronisation" aka "Sync Royalties".

What are Sync Royalties?

To fully understand sync royalties, you first have to know about music synchronization licenses. This is because in the music industry, both fortunately and unfortunately. It's all about licensing!

If you master this you can unlock your true earning power as a musician. And protect yourself from bad deals.

As a music creator, you own 6 copyrights simply by creating original work. These are:

  1. Distribution
  2. Replication
  3. Public performance
  4. The right to create derivative works
  5. Public display
  6. Digital transmission

Can you handle Copyrights yourself?

Of course, you can license these copyrights yourself. However, you can do it via a licensing agent or music publisher.

Watch this short video to understand music synchronization licensing:

Music Licensing: What is Synchronization License? by The Modern Musician

Why does a Licensee want to Sync your music?

So hopefully by now, you know a sync license is granted by a copyright holder. Is for the use of a particular musical composition. And it allows the licensee to use the agreed-upon music. Usually, the licensee will use this music with with some kind of visual media. Such as:

  • Film
  • Television
  • Advertisements
  • Video games
  • Website music
  • Movie trailers
  • Radio
  • + More

How to get paid from Synchronisation Licensing?

sync music license pays a royalty to the copyright holder (owner) of the composition (song).

As a music artist, you have the right to license any original music that you make. You can do this yourself. But usually, you will find a licensing agent or a music publisher who can take care of it for you.

If you have written a song and you have not sold the rights, you are the publisher. As the owner, this means you can also decide to sell these rights. However, when synchronization rights are sold, the song will have new owner, other than the original composer or publisher.

sync royalties

Who takes care of licencing?

You can take care of this, but it is not easy work! It is more common that an agent or publishing company will take care of this. Typically they do this for all the publishing rights for your music, including the licensing.

Whoever manages your catalogue will ensure the money collected goes to you.

"In exchange for a typical co-publishing deal, the music publisher is traditionally paid 50% of the "publisher's share" of all royalty income, which is income from mechanical and synchronization royalties. For your performance income, since those monies are collected by PRO's, music publisher usually get only 25%."

Quote Source: Music Publishers - How Much Do They Get Paid? - Law Advice

Now as we are progressing into the 20's. People are current using online streaming platforms, television, and films more and more. This is generating sync royalties everywhere!

Now you have a good idea about how Synch Licensing and Sync Royalties Work. Let's talk Micro Syncs!

What Are Micro-Sync Royalties?

In the same way as normal synchronization royalties. Micro-sync royalties use the same form of license but on "smaller" platforms. However often these have a larger scale.

So take YouTube, for example. It might not be as cool as saying your music was in the latest Holywood blockbuster. You will not get an invite to mingle with stars on the red carpet. But this platform has eyeballs!

Youtube has 2.3 Billion active monthly users!!

When it comes to Micro Syncs, the publishers (and/or the label) grant the platform the right to use your music. Usually, they get access to their entire catalogues. This means their whole signed music library.

In exchange, rightsholders can monetize and collect royalties generated by the videos that use their music. These royalties generated are micro-sync royalties.

To put it into basic terms, micro-sync is just the synchronization of music with a moving image. Like standard sync but in smaller, “bulk” uses.

And depending on where it's happening, both performance and mechanical royalties can also be generated at the same time.

Choosing a good company to work with is imperative!

Should you start your own Publishing Company?

Wondering if you should set up your own publishing company?

If you make music, have access to a catalogue, or plan to sign music. You might want to consider becoming a publisher.

"If you decide to publish yourself, the set-up procedure is not so bad.  You will need to pick a clear name. Register with a Performing Rights Organization. And you should set up a business bank account to keep it all legal and above board. If you do go this route I recommend you hire an independent company to administer your publishing.

They will take care of all the business of collecting and disbursing the monies that are generated by your songs. And they charge much less than 50%.

These revenue opportunities are very time consuming and easy to miss. I think your time would be better spent developing contacts to sell your music to.

And of course, making more music.

If you are confident that you are the best person to sell your music. You have solid contacts in TV/film/advertisement and you are willing to deal with administration then go for it."

- Song Royalty Tips | What Are Micro-Sync Royalties? by mnomusic on

Sync Royalties - Wrap up

When it comes to other royalties. Streaming services pay record labels more than double what they pay songwriters and publishers.

Sync royalties are one of the few revenue streams that reward both the songwriter and recording artist equally.

The demand for music has never been higher and at Indiy we believe in keeping you clued up! We do this with music business tips that you can use wherever you are in the world!

Find DIY musician tips and information on starting in the music industry. Just download our free ebook <<< Just click the link to download and get reading today.


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Andrea graduated from Roehampton University and The BRIT School, whose globally recognized alumni include Adele, Katy B, Ella Eyre, FKA Twigs, Jessie J, Leona Lewis, Katie Melua, Kate Nash and the Rizzle Kicks. She takes her love of the arts and entertainment industry to provide useful information to upcoming musicians, helping them navigate the industry and avoid making costly mistakes. She actively mentors our current contributors. Andrea has qualifications in Content Marketing and also manages our collaborative playlists for independent artists

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