Empowering and Educating Musicians in Music for Media

Zaiks, the performance rights organization of Poland, in association with Music Export Poland holds a wide variety of programs designed to educate and empower musicians worldwide to help them understand how to connect their music and talent to opportunities in the music industry.

To help musicians worldwide both understand the creative process and the business elements of music for media, Zaiks and Music Export Poland have organized a series of five sync camps over the past several years (I have co-lead two of them).

These Sync Camps bring together 15-20 musicians from across the world with four music supervisors and one mentor composer/producer for five intensive days of creation and collaboration working on active briefs from each music supervisor with the goal to make a piece of music we can use in our projects.

The Sync Camps are amazing opportunities for musicians: working and learning for five days with experienced music supervisors, composers and producers is a rarely opened window into all the aspects of the working environment, workflow and process in the creation of music for media – I only wish more countries (I’m talking about you, USA) would support their musicians in the way Zaiks does.

Now, let’s talk a bit about how the Sync Camps work.

From the artist side, every artist taking part in the camp must fill out an application which is then reviewed by Zaiks/Music Export Poland and that artist’s local performance rights association.  This helps ensure the participants both understand the mission of the camp and have the creative capabilities to work in an intense, time-sensitive environment.

On the music supervision and mentorship side, for each Sync Camp, Zaiks/Music Export Poland invites several music supervisors representing major industry sectors nationally and internationally to act as mentors who provide actual, current music licensing opportunities (briefs) based on the music supervisor’s projects and then work through these briefs with teams of musicians.

Then, once the music supervisors, mentor and artists participating are confirmed, they all gather for five days in one of two idyllic locations in Poland, the costal resort town of Sopot on the Baltic Sea or the idyllic alpine retreat of Zakopane. All participants stay in the same location and are together the entire five days of the event, creating an amazing, collaborative environment.

So, we‘re all together now, then what?  We make music.

Each morning for four days, two of the four music supervisors will present their briefs of the day to six teams where they outline the various aspects of their briefs, any musical references and, if available, will present visual references so the musicians can understand their music creation mission of the day.

Then, each music supervisor works exclusively with three of the six teams for the day, giving them a few hours to come up with a rough version of the cut, listening to what’s been developed, and consulting with the musicians alongside the composer/producer to give the musicians direction for further refinement of their music.

Finally, at the end of the day, each team presents the final versions of their songs to the music supervisor and the entire group of musicians and supervisors for feedback and possible future refinement and ultimately usage in the music supervisor’s project.

Pretty simple, right?  The devil in the details of course is in taking the briefs and making them into high-quality, great music that match the music request.  And for that, I’d like to bring into focus the team at Zaiks’ latest camp in Zakopane.

The Zakopane Sync Camp.  Who took part and what where their roles?

I’m going to break down the participants of the Sync Camp we just finished last week in Zakopane Poland into three groups.

First, the organizers of the event, Tamara Kamińska and Marek Hojda from Zaik/Music Export Poland.  They are responsible for recruiting the music supervisors, selecting the artists and organizing all the logistics of event programming and generally creating a healthy creative environment.

Organizers of the Sync Camps – Music Export Poland – Zaiks Executives Tamara Kamińska and Marek Hojda

What they are doing for musicians is innovative and amazing.

Second, the music supervisors and mentoring composer/producer. This group brought their brief assignments, then mentored teams of musicians to create music. 

For this camp, the music supervisor/mentor team was:

Zakopane Sync Camp Music Supervisor Team – Photo Credit, https://soundtrackfest.com/

Truly an amazing group of people I love and respect very much (even me).  They all brought their A game, fantastic, challenging, interesting projects and a caring, patient spirit to the camp.

And most important, the musicians. The musicians gathered for this camp are comprised of 16 absolute superstars from across the world – these are the people that took the opportunity Zaiks provided them and our briefs to collaborate on making some amazing music.

Here’s the musicians we had the honor to work with:

They are an amazing group of talented musicians, many of them experienced in creating music for visual and interactive media. And in every case, they worked hard, smart and constantly exceeded our expectations.

They created an incredible body of work during the four days – and here are a few I can share with you now. Remember when you listen to it that each of the songs were created in less then seven hours from conception to completion – click this link to check out some of the songs.

Zaiks Zakopane Sync Camp Song Playlist Sampler

Amazing work right?  And all of it is being considered for use in projects. This is what really gets me excited about these camps – the opportunity to help people learn, make amazing music and give musicians the chance to get their music in a project and give their careers a boost.

What else?  Some presentations and post-camp learning.

Beyond the actually making of music, we shared some knowledge during the camp and afterwards at the Krakow Film and Music Festival. Specifically, at the camp, Roy Lidstone gave a breakdown on trailer music, and I gave a presentation on how the evolving role of music in advertising and branding.

And, at the festival, Zaiks’ Marek Hojda and I presented a study on the financials of music licensing, creation, royalties and payments from a global perspective while Roy presented a masterclass in trailer music.

Overall, it was a great way to spend a week.  This event gave musicians a real opportunity to connect with opportunity, learn from global experts, to meet and collaborate with new people and build upon their creative talents and practical business knowledge in making and licensing music for media projects.

I feel like these types of intensive camp environments give musicians a real insight into how music supervisors work with projects, what they expect and how as musicians they can build a successful sync practice in a real tangible way, all while meeting collaborators and supervisors they’ll likely be in contact with for the rest of their lives.  

The sync camp is a great initiative and I’ll do everything I can to support it.

Certainly we need to do more of these here at Sync Summit. And we will.

I only wish that our government in the United States would support the development of sync camps the way other countries do. It’s very frustrating to me that while countries like Poland and organizations like Zaiks allocate the time, effort and money to support artists, the US government, if anything, looks for ways to reduce its already paltry contributions to the arts and US artists. It’s pathetic and sad. And it leaves artists beholden to the largesse of private institutions, which I think is bad for artists and for the industry.

But that’s another subject for another time. Right now, I want to celebrate the amazing effort Zaiks and Export Poland are doing to educate, empower and find opportunists for artists to create, collaborate, network and get their music synced!