January 9, 2023

Stems and the Growing Sync Industry


Taco Bell had a pitch for BonFire Records. A five-figure deal to use the song “Make You” from the label’s band, Famous Yesterday, in an upcoming commercial. On paper, an absolute yes. Logistically, a challenge.

While the song had been licensed for numerous sync opportunities, due to corrupted files and the group disbanding since the song’s release, BonFire Records didn’t have access to the song’s stems or instrumentals — a must-have for music supervisors in today’s industry.

Fortunately, BonFire Records was able to quickly pull the song’s stems and instrumentals using AudioShake, an AI-powered platform that can separate songs into their stems for any artist, label, and publisher. The pitch and project were successful, resulting in a nationwide campaign for Taco Bell featuring an instrumental version of the song.

At AudioShake, we’re often asked why musicians or other rights holders need to care about stems. Once you have a song, is it worth the time to create and hold on to your stems? Increasingly, the answer is yes. More and more, music supervisors for sync libraries will not accept any pitch that doesn’t include the instrumental version. Music editors require instrumentals when editing so they can create scenes that don’t distract from the dialogue or scenes happening on screen.

In the early days of AudioShake, we realized that major publishers and labels were reporting that the instrumentals for as much as 50% of their catalog were missing. So we wanted to help them address the challenge of missing stem and instrumental files, to step in when assets had been lost or had never been created in the first place.

Sync is an increasingly important part of a label, publisher, and artist’s strategy. Sync licensing was once a small portion of the music industry but has exploded in recent years with the mushrooming of content channels across the internet. Mediums like video games, live-streaming, social media, and other commercial environments are all responsible for the speed at which this multibillion-dollar sphere is growing. Given the volume in which we consume content every day, the industry is evolving quickly.

In 2021 alone, sync royalties grew by 14%, indicating a promising future and opportunity for artists and labels looking to create additional revenue streams from their tracks. New technologies are not only keeping pace with this industry but accelerating it by creating opportunities for independent artists and labels to stay competitive in this market.