Tunefind has published its year-end round-up for top sync placements in 2022 — and older tracks are still making a serious dent. With decades-old tracks snatching up significant sync opportunities and stealing the spotlight, catalog is now an undeniably major part of the sync landscape.
The following was created in collaboration with Songtradr, part of a broader partnership focused on the sync licensing space. Be sure to check our ongoing coverage of this fast-growing sector here.
The current landscape is seeing more catalog tracks charting on Spotify than ever before. A study conducted by Spotify reports that in 2022, almost a third of charting songs were catalog. The groundswell is largely being powered by juicy sync placements on major TV shows and films.
So is sync the new radio? It’s becoming increasingly apparent that artist catalogs are a treasure trove of monetizable assets, finding incredible new value in this music climate. These long-forgotten tracks are being touted as underexploited gems as producers propel them back into the spotlight with sync placements in television shows and movies.
The most remarkable aspect of sync placements is making itself known: the promotional impact achieved by sync does more than just put that particular track in the spotlight. Older tracks are attaining their prime — decades after they were first produced — and their popularity boosts streams and views for artists’ catalogs. A Spotify study revealed that one viral track or placement boosts streams for the artist’s entire catalog by 70%.
Music supervisors and labels use Songtradr’s music-tracking platform, Tunefind, to research sync placements in movies and TV series.
Tunefind tracks sync placements across the visual media landscape, regardless of a song’s release date. But the older stuff seems to be getting the most attention these days. When Netflix’s Stranger Things catapulted ‘Running up the Hill’ into the spotlight, Kate Bush saw a resurgence of streams on all platforms and generated millions with her 37-year-old track. However, that’s not the only catalog track that attained incredible new heights with sync.
For example, Tunefind’s list of top sync placements for 2022 includes ‘Dead of Night’ by Orville Peck, released in 2019, which was featured in Euphoria episode Trying to Get to Heaven Before They Close the Door.
These are merely the tip of the catalog iceberg. Tunefind’s list also includes several older tracks that gained massive listener resurgence after scoring significant placements.
Song: ‘Untitled’ (2012)
Artist: Killer Mike
Placement. Ozark S4E3 City on The Make
Killer Mike has been releasing singles since 2002, with his song ‘Untitled’ released in the 2012 album R.A.P. Music. Right after Ozark’s episode City on The Make aired on January 21, 2022, Killer Mike’s decade-old track ‘Untitled’ exploded on all major streaming platforms. Spotify streams spiked on January 29, gaining thousands of new streams every day, Chartmetric data shows.
January 29 featured over 13,000 streams, and popularity stayed consistently high throughout the first half of the year. Scoring an average of 6,000 streams per day until May, numbers slowly leveled out months later. Of course, the figure marks an incredible gain from before its placement in Ozark. ‘Untitled’ had recorded a total of 1.7 million streams before the sync, and that number has now bumped to almost 2.8 million — almost 1.1 million additional streams since January.
Killer Mike also enjoyed a surge in YouTube viewers for its track ‘Untitled,’ gaining an additional 150,000 views following the Ozark placement.
Song: ‘Drink Before the War’ (1987)
Artist: Sinead O’Connor
Placement: Euphoria S2E4 You Who Cannot See, Think of Those Who Can
Originally released in 1987 as part of the album The Lion and The Cobra, ‘Drink Before the War,’ is written and co-produced by O’Connor. 35-years after it was first released, the track received a spectacular revival, gaining immense popularity after a major sync propelled it into the spotlight.
Featured in the second season of popular teen drama, Euphoria, which was released on HBO and HBO Max, the track rose from its silent catalog existence to reach incredible numbers of younger listeners.
After the Euphoria episode You Who Cannot See, Think of Those Who Can featured in 2022, Spotify streams rose in July and continued a steady incline in per day streams.
Since its placement, O’Conner’s track has gained an additional 3.5+ million Spotify streams, a 28.33% total increase, Chartmetric data shows.
Moreover, YouTube views for ‘Drink Before The War’ currently stand at a total of 2.1 million, which represents a whopping 50% increase during 2022. This sync placement has gained O’Conner’s track an additional 700,000 new views.
‘Drink Before The War’ also attained 1 million Shazam counts since it was featured on Euphoria.
Song: ‘Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)’ (1983)
Artist: Journey, Steve Perry
Placement. Stranger Things S4E8 Papa
‘Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)’ was recorded in 1983 by Journey and Steven Perry for their album Frontiers. It was the first single for which the band shot an actual choreographed video — all previous videos released before that had been recorded performances.
For Stranger Things episode Papa, Bryce Miller and Alloy Tracks remixed the original song, and reportedly, Steven Perry liked it so much that he suggested an extended version that was released in 2022.
After being featured on Stranger Things, the track ‘Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)’ hit incredible highs on Spotify. It gained an impressive number of streams up until July — two months after its May placement. By August, the numbers eventually settled down to an average of 200,000 streams a day — a phenomenal achievement for a 39-year-old track. During December, the track still sees roughly 65,000 streams per day, Chartmetric data shows.
On TikTok, the track appeared right after its appearance on Netflix. The song has now been featured in over 700,000 videos, triggering a spillover of listeners onto all other streaming platforms.
Sync placements are luring new listener demographics to older artist tables.
Practically speaking, catalog tracks are only ‘old’ for older audiences, but virtually brand new to audiences watching TV shows and movies today. That’s exactly why these viewers are spiking Spotify stream numbers so aggressively — they’ve discovered something ‘new.’ Listening to these catalog tracks in the backdrop of their favorite shows triggers a unique attachment experience, and that’s clearly working out big time for artists that score these notable placements.
This listener experience has certainly redesigned the music landscape, and the change is here to stay. With artist discoveries multiplying thousands of times over after making notable sync appearances, it’s obvious that sync is the new radio. Now, everyone wants a piece of the pie.