Sync Music for a Change:  
Activism + Music Licensing Listening Session
Write an email/make a donation, share a song

 
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December 7th, 5pm PDT Listening Session
with Jennifer Smith

Submissions open:
November 22nd - 30th

Southern California native Jennifer Smith is the founder the of the LA based music supervision company RAT DANCE PARTY. Jennifer specializes in music supervision services for all types of media including new media, podcasts, live television, scripted and unscripted projects including documentaries.  

Jennifer’s recent work can be seen in films such as Netflix’s “Deadly Illusions”, Showtime’s American Christmas (Tara Reid), Amazon’s The Transcendents (Award Winning), and Bad Kids Go To Hell (based off a cult comic book) , as well as the scripted TV shows CBS’s “Why Women Kill”, Slut, and Humor Me. Prior to her work for Rat Dance Party, Jennifer worked with the teams at Dancing with the Stars and American Idol ABC Season 1, where she was in charge of clearing the rights for hundreds of songs.

Prior to founding RDP, Jennifer joined Kobalt Music as part of the synchronization team. At Kobalt, she collaborated with music supervisors on finding music for their projects, negotiated rights for Kobalt’s catalog and artists, and worked closely with songwriters and artists on the Kobalt roster. Her time at Kobalt gave her full-circle experience in the synchronization world, dealing with all stakeholders in the creative process including record labels, songwriters, publishers, musicians, managers and marketing teams.  

Media rights are a tremendous undertaking and her experience and expertise can help a production avoid costly delays or mistakes. Jennifer is well-versed in US Union Guidelines for Music and Media Rights, experienced with budgeting and working to strict deadlines. Through her industry network and experience, she is able to negotiate effectively in her client’s best interests while keeping their creative vision’s integrity.

Jennifer is a member of The Guild Of Music Supervisors (Board Member), Woman In Film, The Television Academy, The Recording Academy, and Woman In Media.

How it works

  1. Write a letter/email to your House Representative or Senator, or make a donation related to this month's issue (takes 5 minutes - details below).

  2. Take a screenshot/photo of your letter/email or donation.

  3. Upload the screenshot and the song you want to share here

  4. Join our FB group for the zoom link (posted the day of the session) and to keep up-to-date on upcoming listening sessions & announcements. 

 

 

By submitting your song and/or joining the zoom call, you consent to allowing us to play your song during the listening session, and to have it included in the replay (and show whatever is on your video on zoom during the replay) which will be posted in the FB group.

 

In the past we did first come first heard but we're getting lots of great submissions and we want to encourage more people to write to their elected representatives and submit their songs so we are changing things up. We will play 15 - 20 songs during the listening session, time dependant, but rather than songs being played in order of submission, Justina & Elaine will review all of the songs submitted before the deadline and the 15 - 20 songs that are of the highest quality and/or the best fit for the supervisor's needs will be played. ALL of the songs will be forwarded to the supervisor in a playlist, regardless of whether or not they get played in the listening session.

 

DEADLINE for taking action and sending your song is the November 30th AT 5PM PDT.

* for more info on knowing about who owns the rights to your song and to learn about the terms 'one-stop' and 'easy-clear', click here.

** to know if your song quality is good enough go to Spotify and look up the soundtrack to a show you like. Ask yourself if your song's sound quality is at the same level as the rest of the songs. 

Protesting With Sign
 
Washington Monument

Current Focus: Build Back Better Plan

BACKGROUND INFO:

 

The Build Back Better plan was just passed by the House and now faces a battle in the Senate.

Time Magazine breaks down seven of the current bill’s most significant provisions.

$555 billion to fight climate change

The biggest sum of money in the bill is set aside for climate-related provisions, towards the goal to halve carbon emissions by 2030. The bulk of clean energy spending—$320 billion—comes in the form of tax credits for companies and consumers that install solar panels, improve the energy efficiency of buildings and purchase electric vehicles. The Administration says the tax breaks could cut the overall cost of installing rooftop solar panels by around 30%, as well as lower the cost of electric vehicles by $12,500.

The bill also provides financial incentives for U.S. manufacturing of clean energy technologies, with the goal that more wind turbines and solar panels will be made domestically through a combination of grants, loans and tax credits. Spending also goes towards the creation of a Civilian Climate Corps that would provide some 300,000 jobs to restore forests and wetlands and guard against the effects of rising temperatures—similar to the New Deal-era Civilian Conservation Corps, which was championed at the time as an economic development and environmental plan, but criticized by organized labor groups.

$400 billion for universal pre-K

The bill directs money to providing free universal preschool for all three and four year olds, which the White House has dubbed the largest expansion in education programs since the creation of public high school.

Under the universal preschool plan, parents will be able to send their children to a public school or childcare program of their choice. Families that earn less than $300,000 annually, for instance, will pay no more than 7% of their income on child care for kids under age six, according to the bill.

$200 billion for child tax credits

The bill grants a one-year extension of the pandemic-era child tax credit, which provides parents with $300 every month per child under age six and $250 every month per child ages six to 17. Families that do not earn enough money to qualify for income tax liability will be eligible to continue receiving the full child tax credit beyond the one-year period.

$200 billion for 4 weeks of paid leave

The bill creates a permanent, comprehensive national paid leave program that gives employed workers—including those who are self-employed—four weeks of paid family and medical leave, which can be used for caregiving or personal illness. If this provision becomes law, workers who request paid leave starting in 2024 will receive a percentage of their income starting at about 90% and scaling down for higher earners.

Currently, the U.S. is one of few industrialized nations without a national paid leave program for new parents. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of March 2021, just 23% of civilian workers in the U.S. had access to paid family leave and 89% had access to unpaid family leave.

$165 billion on healthcare spending

The spending bill reduces health care premiums under the Affordable Care Act and expands Medicare coverage to include hearing benefits. Premiums for those who buy insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplace will be around $600 less per person each year, so that a family of four earning $80,000 annually would save roughly $246 per month on health insurance premiums.

Officials hope the savings will make it easier for those who are currently uninsured to gain health insurance. The spending plan also closes the Medicaid coverage gap, allowing uninsured people whose states have locked them out of Medicaid to receive health care coverage without paying a monthly premium.

The Build Back Better bill also delivers a compromise for taking on Big Pharma over rising drug prices: It would restrict how much drugmakers can increase their prices each year and set an annual limit on out-of-pocket spending, but only after those drugs have been on the market for about a decade.

That means drug companies could still charge an enormous amount for new drugs, with price regulation taking effect nine years later for most common medications and 13 years later for more complicated drugs. Out-of-pocket costs for insulin—a protein hormone used to treat diabetes—would be capped at $35 for a 30-day supply, significantly lower than current costs, starting in 2023.

$150 billion to expand affordable home care

The plan provides funding for a Medicaid program that supports in-home health care, helping to reduce a backlog of people waiting to receive subsidized home care and improve wages for providers. Thousands of seniors and disabled Americans have been unable to receive care they need, including more than 800,000 on state Medicaid waiting lists. Many home care issues have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

$150 billion for affordable housing

Increased spending on housing affordability will go towards building more than 1 million new rental and single-family homes. The bill aims to reduce cost pressures by providing rental and down payment assistance through an expanded voucher program.

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, around 70% of all extremely low income families pay more than half their income on rent, and over 580,000 Americans currently experience homelessness.

 

​ACTION:

Write a letter to your senator asking them to support the Build Back Better Bill or make a donation to the Center for American Progress.

 

Here’s a sample letter to your senator:

 

Dear Senator [name],

 

I’m a constituent from [zip]. Thank you for the work you do to represent our state.

I care deeply about climate change, health care and and making life more fair and livable for middle class families.

Please vote to pass the Build Back Better bill and do everything in your power to encourage Kyrsten Sinema, Joe Manchin and other Democratic senators to do the same.

 

Thank you for listening.

 

[your name]

Click here to find your senator

If you don’t live in the United States, you have the option either of making a donation or of writing to your elected representative in your country on any of the issues addressed in the Build Back Better plan or an issue that concerns you. We care deeply about the topics we are highlighting but our overriding motivation is to support everyone in their participation in the democratic process. So no matter where you’re from please look into the facts and learn about the issue for yourself. If an action doesn’t sit right with you, write to your representative about any issue that you care about.

 

FAQ

1. Can I write and mail a letter instead of sending an email?
- Absolutely. Just take a photo of the letter and upload it to the Disco link with your song
2. Can I make a donation instead of writing to someone?
- Yes. If you want to donate to any other organization that supports this issue you may do so and upload a confirmation of your donation
3. Can I phone my representative instead? 
- Yes. In this case you'll want to record a video from your computer/iPad etc. while you make the call. You will likely end up leaving them a voice message if they don't pick up, which is just as good.
4. Will my song get played in the session for sure?
- We will have the music supervisor listen to as many songs as possible but not every song will get played. However the music supervisor will be sent a playlist of all the submissions.
5. Can I send a demo or worktape?
- No. Please only send songs that a music supervisor would be able to use immediately. Songs should be mastered and radio-ready. Send your best song!

 

“Hope is not a lottery ticket you can sit on the sofa and clutch, feeling lucky. It is an axe you break down doors with in an emergency. Hope should shove you out the door, because it will take everything you have to steer the future away from endless war, from the annihilation of the earth's treasures and the grinding down of the poor and marginal... To hope is to give yourself to the future - and that commitment to the future is what makes the present inhabitable.”

Rebecca Solnit

Image by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona

Why Write Emails & Letters?

Do they even work?

Yes. From the ACLU website: 

"Letters and faxes are an extremely effective way of communicating with your elected officials. Many legislators believe that a letter represents not only the position of the writer but also many other constituents who did not take the time to write."

We chose writing emails because they are a straightforward and easy. You can also choose to do a hand-written letter for even greater impact. If you want an activism nudge that could also further your music career, this is a way to start.

You are totally welcome to call your elected official, or donate money to a cause or campaign you believe in. The important thing is to try to get involved in democracy and social justice in some form on a regular basis. 

 

Respecting the Music Supervisors

We're not cool, but we try to be

Music supervisors are regular people with jobs to do who get flooded with email submissions on a regular basis. Of course it's cool to follow them on social media but please be discerning about reaching out directly. It's a great idea to research the projects they work on before contacting them. IMDB.com, Tunefind.com and ispot.tv are great resources. They may not respond to messages or emails and that's nothing personal. Consider looking into getting a sync agent to represent your music. If you're looking for more information on sync licensing, sync agents etc. we highly recommend checking out our friends' club Ctrl Camp and their bi-weekly meetings on Clubhouse!

 
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Who We Are

We're a couple of musician activists (Justina Shandler & Elaine Ryan) who met in a course on songwriting for music licensing and became close friends and co-writers. We started noticing that some of the most progressive people we saw on social media were music supervisors. Why not harness that for good? We decided to see if music supervisors would share their time and expertise around music licensing in exchange for us musicians helping moving progressive causes forward.

Special thanks to Jessica Craven for ideas on actions to take and wording for outreach to our elected representatives.

 

Contact Sync Music for a Change

We'd love to connect! You can reach us at unicornsync@gmail.com

We don't accept submissions of any kind outside of the listening sessions or unless specifically solicited. There's always another listening session in the works so the best way to share your music is to join the FB group (details above) and submit to a free listening session!

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Sign up as a Music Supervisor

If you're a music supervisor, music coordinator or sync agent who'd like to support this initiative, let's connect! Leave your info below if you're interested in being the featured guest on a future listening session. Feel free to let us know about any issues that are of particular interest to you and we can try to match that with upcoming legislation. You can also leave that field blank if you're open to a lot of different issues.

Thanks for signing up!