Dennis Carlson, Founder Gaslight East @gaslighteast
Nearly 300 of the industry’s leading music supervisors, recording artists and producers gathered in Hollywood in November for SyncSummit, a dynamic two-day conference devoted to dealmaking, informative discussions and valuable networking opportunities.
For musicians, singers, songwriters and other creators, SyncSummit was an ideal place to make connections with executives who select and use music in movies, television shows, video games and various forms of advertising.In addition to people from the creative side of the business, the crowd at SyncSummit included representatives from management companies, labels and law firms. This healthy mix of attendees generated a vibrant atmosphere for making introductions, sparking conversation and laying the groundwork for future deals.
Mark Frieser, the founder and chief executive officer of SyncSummit, pointed out that SyncSummit’s Hollywood event differed from SyncSummit’s other gatherings in New York, Paris and Nashville.
“The biggest thing I can say about the difference between SyncSummit Hollywood and the others is that it’s in the heart of the entertainment industry, so it is more focused on television and film than other events,” Frieser said. “New York is more focused on ads and brands. Nashville is focused on songwriters, and our international events are more focused on the international markets.”
It is very easy to open up to people and to make the connections you’re looking for.-Mark Frieser, Founder/CEO SyncSummit
“There are more projects than ever in every sector, and that is the good news,” said Frieser, who also serves as the chief executive officer of SyncExchange, a music licensing company. “There is more music than ever, but there are fewer ways to get that music to the people that use it. I also think there are new ways for us to get music to people through technology, including YouTube and other outlets. It is basically a market that has potential, but it is more competitive. I think there are more opportunities to bring music to general consumers who are looking for music.”
Frieser mentioned Facebook, personal videos and online photo albums as examples.
“This is a huge area of opportunity if there is a system to present it,” Frieser said.
A major highlight of SyncSummit was a contest known as the Sync Competition, which offered musicians a chance to sync their music to videos provided by music supervisors from throughout the industry. After the musicians synced their work to the videos, the supervisors judged the results. No guarantees were made, but all past winners of the event have gone on to work professionally on successful sync projects.
The contest was just one way for musicians to connect with key executives in the industry. The format of the conference encouraged SyncSummit attendees to network with the event’s keynote speakers before and after their speeches. Informal daytime gatherings and nighttime receptions offered ideal opportunities to pick the brains of industry leaders.
From Nashville to Hollywood
Paul J. Philips, a singer and songwriter from Nashville, attended SyncSummit with the goals of expanding his audience and finding someone to help him pair his music with a visual story.
“Part of why I attended SyncSummit was to understand more about that world and to meet some specific people in it,” Philips said. “I wanted to ask questions. I wanted to meet other artists trying to do the same thing, and I wanted to hear their stories. I have had a few film placements, and my original intent was to get a better foot in the door with some of the film and television supervisors there.”
Interacting in a personal way with SyncSummit’s featured speakers was a focal point of the event for Philips.
“I definitely appreciated getting some face time with people from the panels whose work resonated with me and my music, even if it was a quick handshake and hello,” said Philips, who counts Wilco, Ryan Adams and Tom Petty among his musical influences. “I was there primarily to make a personal connection with a few specific supervisors, and I went well beyond that. It was refreshing to be physically present in a room with like-minded artists and industry people to hear firsthand about their experience, challenges and successes with regard to the sync world.”
SyncSummit = #artXcommerce
The keynote speakers and panelists at SyncSummit included top music executives from leading film studios, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Activision Blizzard and many other international brands. A big highlight was Frieser’s panel-style introduction to the team of Brewhouse Music. Head of Custom Music for Brewhouse, Brandon Smith along with his team thoughtfully explained how they pitched, won, strategized and launched an international musically branded campaign for Coca Cola.
Follow up, follow up, follow up
Upon the conclusion of the event, everyone who attended SyncSummit received a list that included the email addresses of every attendee and featured speaker. Attendees were encouraged to follow up on introductions and conversations that took place during the conference. This list serves as an exceptional opportunity for musicians trying to get their projects connected to brands, advertising firms and music supervisors.
Ed Grenga, vice president and creative director for Handsome Brothers Music in Boston, decided to attend SyncSummit to enhance his network of industry friends, colleagues and business contacts. He said he appreciated the inviting atmosphere he found at SyncSummit.
“For the past 20 years, I had been so busy with local projects that I never had time to network,” Grenga said. “After scoring a couple of independent films and attending the respective festivals, I started to realize that this was a valuable way to meet people. The thing I like best about SyncSummit is that it is small and cohesive. Everyone is basically there for the same reason, which is to make connections. We are all basically in one big room. It is very easy to open up to people and to make the connections you’re looking for in that environment.”
Grenga, who focuses on scoring for film, television and documentaries, vowed to follow up on the connections he made at SyncSummit.
“The first thing I will probably do is reorganize my catalog and my Rolodex,” Grenga said. “The next step is to reach out to the people I have met.”
Frieser said he has high hopes for SyncSummit’s future events.
“I want to improve on what we do,” Frieser said. “I want to make it a better marketplace to do business and for people to learn best practices on how to do business. That means more networking possibilities. It means more opportunities for learning how to prepare your music and your business to collaborate with music supervisors, agencies and companies.”