Sync licensing is when you allow someone to use your song in a TV commercial, show, movie, video game, or other visual media. You’re then paid a sync fee in exchange.
The songwriting and publishing rights stay with you unless you co-wrote the song or signed a publishing deal. So the licensor — the person using your song in visual media — doesn’t own your song. You’re just allowing them to use your song in exchange for payment.
Before you start licensing out your music, you need to register the songs with a Publishing Rights Organization (PRO), like BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC. After your song is written, recorded, mixed, and mastered, you’ll want to register it with a PRO. Not only is this proof that you wrote it, but it’s also a way for your PRO to collect royalties for you.
When your song is licensed, it may generate royalties.
Your song will generate royalties from sync licensing when it’s played in a TV show or commercial.
If you’ve written and recorded the song yourself, you own 100% of the copyrights. The copyright (and subsequently the royalties) is split into two halves: the songwriting half and the Publisher’s half1.
The Publisher’s share is the thing you can transfer to other parties, whether on an exclusive or non-exclusive basis.
But with sync licensing, the biggest payout is typically the sync fee.