After 15 years of playing and composing my own music, my big payday wasn't a record deal or T-shirt sales, but a sync.
A synchronization license, or "sync," is an industry term for when copyrighted music is matched up with another type of media (video, photos, games) for the purpose of advertising, background music, theme music, etc. In my case, I had 20 seconds of a song played in the middle of an MTV "Real World" episode. It was a crappy show, but it was the most lucrative 20 seconds of my life.
When you think about all the background music that needs to be carefully woven behind all the horrible reality-TV programs out there, you can begin to appreciate how much work goes into tastefully choosing the right music to fit the content. Also bear in mind that for every one music coordinator, there are thousands of bands praying to land a sync deal. In between them is a company called Jingle Punks.
This New York start-up offers video producers and advertisers a deep, well-organized catalog of high-quality indie music that has been pre-cleared for licensing. Instead of sifting through piles of unsolicited promo CDs, or dealing with the relentless push of hired PR guns and agents, music coordinators can use the Jingle Punks site to quickly search, sort, save, and share playlists of songs that are all ready to sync at a moment's notice.
On the artist side, they take submissions from any musician at no cost; however they are picky about what music they accept. If your music is approved, it gets tagged using a specially developed categorization system that favors a "Mad Men" mentality over traditional genre tags. For example, an MTV music supervisor can search the Jingle Punks library for "Juno" and be presented with a selection of songs that sound similar to the quirky pop from the "Juno" movie soundtrack, instead of, say, a listing of songs by the electro-industrial band Juno Reactor.
Now, here's where we get to the iPad tie-in. Up until now, the Jingle Punks database has been accessible only through the company's Web site, using a Flash-based media player. The company now offers a second way to access all the features of their music catalog, using a free iPad app.
More than just an app clone of the Web-based Jingle Player, the iPad app links users to their account, where they can create playlists for their projects, bookmark songs, and even download songs to the internal memory or send them via e-mail. In a sense, it's an improvement over the Web-based player, since cached content can still be played and organized offline. Because the app is linked to your individual account, any changes made within the app will be reflected on the Web-based player, as well.
What does this mean for consumers? Not much. It's a niche app for a niche industry, but that doesn't mean it's unimportant. What's interesting to me is seeing that the iPad has proliferated enough to make these sorts of specialized B2B apps viable to create, and necessary for those who use the device in place of a laptop. Of course, I'm also happy to see a company thrive that helps musicians get paid.
Jingle Punks has a video demo of the app, which would have been embedded here if it weren't for the possibly NSFW (though hilarious) mention of swingers parties and Ewok orgies.