The Italian Synch Market: Interviews with Francesca Barone, Eleonora Danese and Silvia Siano
Researched and written by Alice Kattago
The Italian synch market can provide numerous opportunities to international artists whether that be in the field of advertising, film or TV. The sector has recently witnessed substantial growth, experiencing a 20.4% increase from 2021 to 2022, with synchronisation revenues in Italy climbing from €10,361,000 in 2021 to €13,106,000 in 2022 (FIMI, 2022; Billboard, 2022). It’s worth noting that the data from FIMI pertains solely to the phonogram side of synchronization; unfortunately, information on the publishing side and the total revenues of the Italian synchronization sector is currently unavailable. Nevertheless, it’s reasonable to assume that the figures for the publishing side closely mirror those of the phonogram producers.
The collective management organisation in Italy, SIAE, officially licenses music to TV networks through the society. Licensing for films and TV shows is often negotiated directly with the rightsholders, with SIAE only getting involved when the cue sheet needs to be filled in. Some traditional TV channels and news programmes have blanket licenses with SIAE (for example RAI and Mediaset). Licensing is done directly through rightsholders’ when it comes to advertising as well.
Many of the major production companies such as Netflix and Amazon Prime have established their production offices in Italy and with that comes increased demand for music. The Italian branch of Netflix recorded €617 million in revenues in 2022, up from €59 million in 2021. Furthermore, renowned international firms like Dolce & Gabbana and others create high-budget advertisements that often require music. This makes the field rife with possibilities for international artists if they know where to look and who to contact. As with any space within the music industry, connections are key.
We had the privilege of speaking to three experts in the Italian music synchronisation market, both in the advertising and film and TV sub-fields. Read ahead to find out about the key insights from the interviews.
Music in Advertising
Interview with Francesca Barone from Dolce & Gabbana on music for advertisements
Francesca Barone is a music licensing consultant and sync manager for Dolce & Gabbana in Italy. She has previously worked at Sony Music Publishing and EMI Music Publishing as a sync and licensing manager and is also an artist and songwriter herself. Recently she opened her own licensing company. Francesca shared her insight into the Italian publishing and sync market and gave tips for emerging international artists interested in that market.
Opportunities for international artists to get synced to Italian advertisements
Francesca advises foreign artists wanting to get into sync and publishing in Italy to at least have some type of a local partner, whether that be a sub-publisher, sync agent or PR partner. It is important to have a local representative who pushes the artists’ work. “You need someone who works on your work locally and who knows the market,” Francesca explains.
It can be challenging for emerging international artists to enter the Italian sync space. Brands typically prefer licensing music from artists who are already well-known in Italy and whose vocals the Italian audience will recognise. Because of this, it can often be easier to license instrumental music from foreign artists than music with lyrics as that is more universal. Artists under major labels can also find that it is easier to get their music into synch in Italy. “The clients are buying into the brand of the artists not just the artist. There is the professional brand value of a big publisher or label who brings added reliability and trustworthiness,” Francesca notes.
Nevertheless, the most important aspect of getting a synch in Italy is recognisability. “If you are an international artist that would like to do a nice synch in Italy, you have to be on the radio in Italy. You have to be a well-known artist or a TikTok sensation in Italy,” Francesa says. This can be different for film and TV, Francesca notes, as they have more liberties when it comes to choosing the right song for the scene. In advertising the music has to be attention-grabbing.
Francesca advises artists seeking to land a sync deal for an advertisement in Italy to first develop other aspects of their career in the Italian market, such as radio, streaming, playlists, social media, and promotion. Synch deals typically come after the other work is done.
Music in TV and film
Interviews with music supervisors Eleonora Danese and Silvia Siano on music for film and TV
Silvia Siano is a music supervisor who has worked on numerous Italian films and TV series including Prisma (Prime Video), Skam Italia (5 seasons Netflix), Extravergine (FoxLife), Il cacciatore (Rai), Io ti cercherò (Rai). In May 2022, she joined the Cross Productions team as an in-house music supervisor and music consultant.
Eleonora Danese is the youngest female music supervisor in Italy and she currently works for Groenlandia Group, a Banijay company based in Rome. She is also a singer-songwriter under the artist name Kuni.
The Main Players in the TV and Film space
For TV, Eleonora states that “the main player in Italy is without any doubt the national TV service, where the most active branches are RAI and Mediaset. Soon after that, there are the private services, mostly SKY, Netflix, Prime Video, and Disney+.” Italy also has a very important history of cinema and film-making, as evidenced by prestigious film festivals like the Venice Film Festival and Rome Film Fest.
Speaking about the role of music supervisors, Silvia said it is “pretty recent in Italy, especially for films and TV series. Before streaming services like Netflix and Amazon established their offices here to start creating local content, most production companies didn’t feel the need to have someone who was really specialised in every aspect of the soundtrack (hiring composers, music licensing etc.).”
However, now the field of music supervision is growing with many young professionals entering and companies being formed. “A few film & TV production companies like Cross Productions (which I work for), Fandango and Groenlandia have their in-house music supervisor, others hire freelancers, and others have agreements with music companies (major and independent) which also have music supervision services.”
Opportunities for international artists to get synced for Italian film or TV
Both Silvia and Eleonora believe that international artists have great opportunities for being synced in Italian films or TV shows.
“There is a big request for international music in Italian films and TV series. Production companies and music supervisors tend to deal with major music companies, independent labels and production music companies, but occasionally they are open to different possibilities for both creative and budget reasons,” Silvia says.
“International artists have so many chances to get synced within Italian TV and cinema space! I believe this has been made easier in the streaming era thanks to all of the digital platforms that allow users and professionals to listen to so much more music than they were used to before,” Eleonora says. Getting synched also “depends on the music supervisor’s curiosity and ability to discover new talents.”
In order to get those opportunities it is important to build trusted relationships with people in the field.
Silvia explains: “It is important to have a direct business relationship with someone who is deeply involved in the production of the soundtrack (music supervisor, director, editor, composer). LinkedIn or business events can be ways to approach these people.”
Eleonora also emphasises how crucial the right relationships are and explains how she attends industry events to seek out new talent. “I try to take as many chances of social gatherings in professional contexts that are presented during the year in different cities (usually Rome and Milan), because as far as I have experienced nothing works better than a face-to-face talk.”
Reaching out by email is also another way to get in touch. “I receive tons of emails from societies that promote artists and composers by sending curated playlists – usually focused on just a few music genres,” Eleonora says.
Case studies of international sync in Italy
There are numerous examples of international artists’s music being used in Italian cinema or TV. Two successful projects that Eleonora worked on recently with her colleague Gabriele Lilli, the TV series “The Law According to Lidia Poet” and the film “Mixed By Erry“, both featured soundtracks from international artists.
Regarding bespoke scores, since there are many well-known and highly regarded Italian film composers, there is a tendency to rely on Italian composers to create scores. Nevertheless, some opportunities exist. Silvia recently worked on the show “Io ti cercherò”, which featured a soundtrack by the German composer Ralf Hildenbeutel.
According to Eleonora, “the main challenge in the Italian market for independent international artists is the lack of official organisations of music supervisors that could make it easier for them to share their music.”
Language barriers can also cause communication issues between composers and directors, Silvia notes.
Overall the Italian market presents opportunities for international artists to get their music synched in TV, film and advertising. Multiple TV shows, films and ads are being produced and there is a demand for high-quality music. As with any part of the industry, it is important to build connections and relationships with key players in the local market including music supervisors, sync agents, film producers, advertisement producers, PR people, labels etc and to get your name out there.
Billboard IT (2022). Italian Music Market. https://billboard.it/english/italian-music-market-h1-2023/2023/09/07128641/
Dams, Tim (2022). Netflix launches Rome office and Italian Slate. IBC
FIMI (2022). Mercato musicale: Engaging with Music 2022 – Estratto italiano https://www.fimi.it/mercato-musicale/pubblicazioni/engaging-with-music-2022-estratto-italiano.kl
International Audiovisual Market (2023). Netflix Italy, €617 million in revenues in 2022. https://www.miamarket.it/en/netflix-italy-e617-million-in-revenues-in-2022/