5 Things - The EQ of Sync
Normally when we talk about EQ, we refer to equalization. The bass, the treble, the midrange. But EQ for sync is very different. I am referring to the Emotional Quotient of a song. How it pulls on the heartstrings when it needs to, or how it punctuates the perfect scene with the perfect musical counterpoint to what is happening on screen. EQ is just as effective whether you are watching a Hollywood blockbuster, or an influencer YouTube video. That music was chosen for a reason. It was chosen because of it’s EQ, and how it evokes a certain feeling to a viewer. Think about those famous scenes in Rocky 2, when he finally wins the belt, and we hear that iconic Bill Conti score…dun dun dun dun dun. There is a magic when the right song and the scene merge. And there is a pretty strong history of artists breaking through timely (and timeless) placements. We were introduced to the band Jet through Apple…Macklemore through Microsoft, The Fray’s "How to save a life" was a staple of Grey’s Anatomy as both the band AND the show were finding an audience. LP, Lizzo, OKGO, and Billie Eilish all found traction in Sync early on. One of my personal favorites (I’m an 80’s kid) is the use of the song "This Woman’s Work" by Kate Bush in the romcom "She’s Having a Baby." Even at the time, I remember thinking to myself "wow…this is so incredible!" (https://youtu.be/9MZWrEfB_VM) 1. Feelings: Unlike songs meant to be streamed, songs used in Film and TV are intended to create a sonic backdrop for what a viewer is seeing. It’s not as much about the intense lyrical message in the song, as it is about the feeling and energy it projects against the picture. Ultimately, the music is there to punctuate what the visual is trying to portray. Write a feeling… 2. Color: When producing music for Film and TV, think about what your sonic pallet will be. Colors, tone, and dynamics all play a very key role in ultimately convincing a music editor, music supervisor, or director to use your song. Try and step away from being so enmeshed in the creation, and put yourself in someone else’s ears. I know it might be fun to write pop music, or active rock…or whatever you like. But those genres aren’t as syncable as other more emotional genres of music. The best part of writing music for Film and TV, is that there are literally NO LIMITATIONS to your creativity. Write what you feel…and I guarantee you, if you feel it, so will they. Avoid being too linear or monochromatic. 3. Dynamics: Another key tactic when putting music together for sync is the idea of creating moments or events within the song. A good trick I have always used is to write and produce the songs sectionally. In other words, try and limit the amount of repetitiveness. In pop music (and I just mean any commercial genres), the idea of repetitiveness is key. Repeating yourself is a core component in creating hookiness. So being repetitive is a good thing (I am being deliberately repetitive intentionally, on purpose). For sync…try and make sure that every 8 bars, you are presenting your song in a new and fresh way. It’s not uncommon to hear a music editor masterfully butcher a song you wrote. But it really becomes an incredible asset if someone decides they want to use chorus vocals over a verse progression, and you’ve given them that option. Give them tools to cut with, and your odds increase exponentially. The real trick is to still make it feel like one song. 4. Authenticity: Music editors and music supervisors can sense an imposter instantly. If you’re not strong at hip hop, don’t do it because you think you should. Stay in your lane, and maximize your speed. If you are a producer, find an artist and collaborate with them. They bring authenticity, you bring creativity. It’s a perfect union. If you love Hip Hop, but you don’t rap, find an awesome rapper and make a project together. Especially if they have a social media following, it authenticates a project as "not just for sync." This will increase your odds of getting placements. Collaborate with people that can authenticate the music. You can post projects on MDIIO and connect with others. Totally for free! 5. Imitation: Because we have discussed color, tone and dynamics, we can now discuss the idea of creating music that ticks the same boxes as highly successful songs. Almost always, like literally 99.99% of the time, a music supervisor will reference a song or songs in their briefs (same as the briefs posted on MDIIO), as a starting point to replacing them. Why do they replace them? Because oftentimes they are either songs that have been overused, or too expensive to clear. They also might be too complicated to clear because there are too many writers and/or publishers making the clearance process tedious. So…if you have something that sits in the same space and has the EQ of a reference song, you will stand a better chance of getting your music through…and licensed. When a supervisor references "Uptown Funk," they really mean they are looking for something up-tempo, funky, male with horns, and produced in a retro sound. You can even infer they want gang vocals and lots of sections with rhythmic hits. It’s always a fun exercise to watch a scene and understand why a song was chosen. Is it fast or slow? Is it tonally dark, or fun and bright? Is it rhythmic or sparse? Is it male or female? Uploading your music to MDIIO will not only help you find those placements, but our AI will make all those determinations for you. Bonus #1: Write a lot…collab a lot…and don’t skip the commercials Bonus #2: Have Shazam always at the ready. For one, it’s a great way to discover new cool artists, and two, it’s the ultimate research tool for understanding what’s getting placed out there. See you next week, and until then, keep writing hits!!
Email me at Justin@mdiio.com