Downtown Music sync manager Stef Patch on the art of music licensing
Syncs are big business, with many labels and publishers actively expanding their music licensing departments to help artists secure lucrative spots across TV, film, games and more.
Downtown Music Publishing announced the appointment of Stef Patch to a newly created role of sync manager, Australia & New Zealand this week.
Patch brings eight years of experience from prior roles at Nightlife Music, MCPS/PRS, Universal Production Music, Universal Music Australia and Spotify.
The new role, based in Sydney, will see Patch focus on new business, synchronisation licensing and creative services across Australia & New Zealand.
Before she starts her new gig, TMN spoke with Patch about the growing world of sync.
Can you tell us a bit about the path your career has taken so far?
As the daughter of a music teacher, music was in my bones from a young age. I studied at the Conservatorium of Music in Brisbane, then jumped head-first into the world of music licensing and programming at Nightlife Music & Video. From there, I moved to London and pursued licensing at PRS/MCPS, followed by music supervision at Universal Production Music, where I could flex my creative muscles a bit more.
After a stint of freelance music supervision and brand playlisting in Stockholm, I moved back to Sydney where I was sync manager at Universal Music for a couple of years. Over the past year, I have been contracting as a music supervisor – working across varied projects including film, gaming and advertising, as well as music editorial at Spotify.
Congratulations on the new gig. What attracted you to Downtown?
The integrity and culture of the team at Downtown enticed me completely. While Downtown have certainly gained great momentum, it’s still early days for our local team and I’m excited to join Rachel Kelly in Sydney as the team continues to grow with the global company. The catalogue has a plethora of amazing writers and producers, which I’m thrilled to work with and represent.
The role of sync manager is a newly created one there. What areas will you be covering and how do you plan to approach it?
I will be focusing on new business, synchronisation licensing, and creative services across Australia and New Zealand. I’ll be working closely with Downtown’s global sync team, spanning New York, Los Angeles, Nashville, London, Amsterdam, Paris and Tokyo, to learn and share sync strategies to tie in to our local market. With signings including Stella Donnelly, The Teskey Brothers, John Butler and so many more, I’m really excited to work with these talented writers to open up a magnitude of opportunities for sync.
Securing quality syncs for artists seems to be an increasing priority for labels. Can you offer some examples of syncs that have broken Australian acts?
The impact a sync placement can have for an artist or songwriter can be powerful. Dean Lewis’ ‘Waves’ took a Home & Away promo to new heights of raw emotion, then suddenly it was being played everywhere. Gang of Youths’ stunning cover of Bowie’s “Heroes” for Westpac also grabbed my attention. The powerful visuals paired with such an iconic song, performed by such an emotive voice enticed me to revisit Gang of Youths’ catalogue.
How do you help agencies and brands think about what music is right for them?
Ultimately, the “right” music can be subjective. Communicating and collaborating for this process with an agency or brand will often unlock different creative ideas, achieving the right music to reflect the brand identity. Discussing budget, re-records and thoroughly understanding their brand direction often impacts which music works best too.
What do you think are the most important aspects of outstanding music in advertising?
I love when the music and the visuals connect so fluidly that it really naturally evokes emotion. Steering too far towards brand vision or choosing music for the wrong reasons can make it difficult to achieve this. While it’s important to factor in the brand identity, the narrative of the spot and the song reputation, I tend to focus on the spot as one seamless story that the visuals, music and dialogue all tell together. Some of my favourite syncs are as simple as a cover of a classic favourite with a new spin to tell the story of the visuals in a unique way.
Have you noticed any shifts in trends in terms of what type of music is being licensed?
With sync budgets more limited than ever, it’s a fun excuse to get creative with music. Covers and re-records have become increasingly popular and there are some absolute beauties being created for sync. Writers are more open to creating bespoke tracks for sync and licensing, resulting in some really unique work for brands and soundtracks.