PLDN Talks – Ruth Wyatt – ‘An insight into music sync’


Hey, I’m Ruth. I work at Warner music. I head up TV, film and trailers there creatively in the Sync team and during lockdown, I am here chatting to you from my bedroom. So in essence, my job is to think of ways to get our artists music into as many opportunities as possible across each of those determinations, TV, film, and trailers.

I thought I’d start with why did I want to go into sync? I was always fascinated by the why and how that comes with music and why music becomes, you know, the way it is, comes to be the way it is. when I was at university, I studied a module called African American music. which totally blew my mind.

We were looking, we were looking at a time where, during the transatlantic slave trade around the late 19th century. America saw different types of music popping up all over the country. The question of how and why this was happening was really interesting to me. You know, one might expect to see a music trend spread gradually, almost in like an ordinary, ordinary fashion geographically across the country.

Whereas in this instance, different underground sound, early blues styles were popping up sporadically all over the place and why was that? I just was. I didn’t, I didn’t understand. turns out it was waterways was the secret. waterways were carrying and transporting stages, which meant musical styles and more popping up all over America.

So the how and why of classical pieces is also very interesting to me because you know, so much it was written for and influenced by the politics at the time and be involved. Now it’s ring cycle or you know, Mendelssohn’s emotive music in part, you know, from him being Jewish and he was under the German Nazi reign.

Or civilians, finlandia, I suppose this body aligns with the way a lot of pop culture and pop music contains discussions about current trends life. And politics, and of course the one genre pop music derives from, the other, which is classical. So I think to me it was always an attractive career option, because this world kind of allowed me to transfer those questions musically how and why into a career path. I like thinking about why that track. What is, what is it about that particular track for that precise moment? Is it the key tone instrumentation? lyric? Is it the size of artists that can come into place sometimes? You know, that thought process is really important to me.

And then the question is how can we make that happen? And, you know, we want to serve as our artists that absolutely best way we can. So we will always try to make opportunities happen for them. What I like about sync is that it lends is that music lends itself to almost any circumstance or scenario, you know, so be it on a BBC sports promo or a highlights reel or a drama promo and a montage of a film developing a character in a TV series you know, and the importance of, you know, the immediacy of attract in an  advert because they’ve got to convey a message in 30 seconds.

But it’s exciting that in every single instance the music plays an integral role, in each of those instances to evoke a particular emotion or further enhance the scene or character or theme, et cetera. also broadly speaking, more often than not, it’s precisely all about the music, which is something that I think is really refreshing for the music industry.

And I think, you know, sync is a very kind of pure stranded industry in that sense. Of course there are exceptions, but often it’s not necessarily about the stats or the streaming numbers, radio plays. But it’s more, does this mood lyric tone, instrumental work creatively for this moment? So I think that’s, that’s quite a fun thing about Sync, I think my job can be broken down into maybe like three areas.

I’d say having a broad knowledge of music generally is very important, obviously. knowing the catalog. So Warner’s rep at this point is obviously very important. but also being able to talk and connect with people.  you know, talking with clients, being helpful, being quick, responsive, open to ideas and suggestions and, you know, just making as many opportunities happen as possible.

If I’m not thinking of, and if I’m not thinking about a direct sync. You know, what about the artists featuring the show? Or is there a soundtrack opportunity or is there a podcast accompanying this release, you know, like, or is there going to be a playlist and how can we make sure our artists there as well?

Like it’s bigger often, I think, than just the, just the Sync in some respects. I guess in some ways we’re an extension of the marketing teams because we are trying to place artists in front of new jump demographics and new audiences that might not have heard the music before. and we all know some awesome films where I remember particular tracks playing in those massive moments.

be it pulp fiction, Johnny B, good or. Screw it, Maisie Peeters, breaking our nation’s heart in Love Island. It happens. and it’s wonderful every time it does when you can remember those moments, because of the music.  so in that sense, I also think we’re influencers, as a sync team because we can drive a track or artist forward that we believe will connect in a particular show.

And often that does work. I was also going to talk about what’s exciting about music industry right now, broadly, but slightly in relation to sync. So because of the boom of streaming services and this generations and ours, let’s face it, kind of expectation of, you know, instant gratification.

I think bingeing new series, and having so many television opportunities is, is crazy exciting. It kind of feels the TV space feels a little bit limitless, like right now. What’s it like to have Netflix, Amazon prime, Apple TV, Brit box, sky originals, Disney pass, Hulu. It is going on. It’s only gonna get bigger.

I think it’s kind of fair, fair game for anyone to go for it in the Sync space at the moment. Cause there is that much appetite. Throughout history, music has always been, integral to the current climate and cultural movements. And I think that’s still really true today. So, you know, we’re seeing new media spaces make TikTok that didn’t even globally exist three years ago, and they’re now breaking artists all over the world, which is insane.

Shout out to Simba Rover because that is doing bits then, to TikTok . Yeah. We’re seeing a massively massive cultural movement, literally where the consumer now has power, as well as no longer a passive listening consumer, but a creatively involved individual that’s actively using music and being in the driver’s seat for creating content, which sorts those artists like to know.

And also, because literally anyone can create music from home. Like now, and I’ve read this DSPs, more than ever, music is being released each week. So from a sync perspective, what excites me is the opportunity kind of feels limitless to getting our artists featuring on platforms like television shows and this being a key way to cutting through the noise.

Of course, I love servicing and supporting our well-known repertoire. but the job gets really exciting when an emerging artist gets a big moment and a Sync can really turn the dial on a campaign. TV shows, now more than ever, kind of do, have a cultural hugely cultural kind of moment. And they keep trending.

And this hype Baton is kind of being passed on once the next, often charts stay quite static and change gradually, but literally, like from one week to the next, you’ve got one TV show taking the spotlight from another. Along with that means that the music does as well. So therefore, I think the most important part of my job is kind of making sure that I’m in those conversations and being equipped with the music from the labels to ensure that our artists, you know, are in those conversations to get to get those moments for them.

Final thought was like a top tip right now for anyone that’s kind of writing music for sync. I’d say basically write music that is optimistic and feel good. Because when we eventually come out of lockdown and the world goes to back to where the normal, is going to be adverts and every promo alike is gonna want that kind of messaging of, you know, feel good.

It’s only up from here. We’re ready. Here we go. Anything’s possible. And yeah, we can’t use Lizzo good as hell for everything. So. Yeah. Thank you.

Check back each day for a new topic, from a new creative – you might learn something useful!