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The Power of a Placement

By Justin Gray (Songwriter/Producer/Founder

Back in 1985, Kate Bush had the biggest hit of her career. “Running Up That Hill” found a little bit of mainstream success as part of the new wave of synth-pop. It wasn’t a smash by any stretch (#30 on the US pop charts)…but it did define and establish Bush as a synth-pop savant. A legacy that would remain indelibly intact for years.

37 years later, she now has the biggest song of the year.

Imagine being able to travel back in time to somehow tell her…

“You think this song is successful now? Just wait until your grandkids are doing Tik Toks to it.”

How would you explain that her song would be omnipresent and on every chart in the world? Contemplate sharing with her that it would be streaming, play listing and out performing artists like Drake, Cardi B and Doja Cat…

She’d probably say…

“What’s streaming?”

“Who’s Drake?”

“What’s a Tik Tok?”

I mean…back in 1985, there is a very high likelihood that Doja Cats mom was like 10 years old.

Here’s the thing. This is a reminder that music is not only timeless and timely, but works on its own timeline.

It used to be that for a band/artist to “break,” they needed to be touring incessantly. They needed a record label.

Today, there are more songs than ever being released. 40k daily. Of course most of them will never earn beyond a few cents, but some will. And it’s not only recognizable artists. There is an entire world of opportunity for independent artists who know how to plug in., and are here to help.

Here are 5 sync stars who have sold out shows, garnered Grammys, and reaped beaucoup bucks thanks to their early sync success.

Jet - Thanks Apple! As part of the early iPhone ads, these raucous and raw rockers exploded. Linked to cool and slick colorful visuals and a nasty track, Jet found a mainstream audience and became the blueprint for so many artists that followed.

Macklemore - “Can’t Hold Us” and Microsoft was a deadly combination. For years Macklemore and Ryan Lewis owned alternative hip hop. Their first break was thanks to Bill Gates and co. Or at least their ad agency. They took an open door and went on to obliterate the charts. All while staying somewhat independent, famously shunning major record deals along the way.

The Fray - Grey’s Anatomy (the holy grail of placements) positioned the Fray’s “How To Save A Life” by putting them in front of millions of viewers. But it was “Over My Head (Cable Car)” that established them as pop radio darlings during the early 2000’s. They made the piano cool again. Personally, I always thought it was cool.

Capital Cities - “Safe and Sound” was used in just about every tv show, and movie in 2014. Never intended to be more than a studio project, they began touring throughout the world thanks to Vodafone, Mazda and ESPN, eventually landing them #1 on the US alternative charts.

Lizzo - Rumor has it that a well-placed Netflix sync had Oprah and Beyoncé tweeting Lizzo’s praises. The world took notice, and suddenly a struggling artist was the belle of the ball. Talk about smashing down walls. Since then, Lizzo has become one of pop musics' most formidable hit makers all while bucking stereotypes, breaking molds, and setting trends.

The Coda - Your moment can come in many shapes and forms. Perhaps all these artists had envisioned a more traditional path to glitz and glamour. Who cares how it happened…it happened. There was a time when every single chart topper was exactly where you are today…searching for that elusive and magical combination of lyrics and melody. It happened for them, why can't it happen for you?

See you next week, and keep writing them hits


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