For the first time in 43 years the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG/AFTRA) joined the Writers Guild of America (WGA) by going on strike. Both calling for calling for better pay and job security, drawing attention to disparities in the film and television industry that have grown wider in the streaming boom and requesting better protections against AI manipulating their digital likenesses. As the strikes continue to gain momentum, their repercussions are rippling throughout various sectors of the industry, and one area that could be significantly affected is music licensing and sync. What is the current state of the WGA and SAG/AFTRA strikes and how they might shape the landscape of music licensing and sync in the coming years.
The Current WGA and SAG/AFTRA Strikes
The Writers Guild of America and SAG/AFTRA represent a large portion of professionals in the entertainment industry, including screenwriters, actors, and voice artists. Both unions have been negotiating with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) over issues such as fair wages, working hours, healthcare benefits, and residuals. The contentious nature of these negotiations has led to strikes, work stoppages, and protests, causing delays in film and television production and impacting the livelihoods of thousands of industry professionals.
Effects on Music Licensing
Music licensing plays a crucial role in enhancing storytelling in films, TV shows, commercials, and other media. The strike’s ongoing disruptions in the production pipeline could result in more films and TV shows relying on library music or royalty-free tracks rather than investing in original compositions. This shift may offer new opportunities for independent musicians and smaller music libraries to gain exposure and secure placements in major productions.
However, the downside is that established composers and music libraries that have previously relied on steady income from licensing deals may experience a decline in revenue due to reduced productions and tighter budgets during the strikes. As a result, some music professionals may face financial challenges, especially if the strikes persist for an extended period.
Shift in Creative Choices
The uncertainty surrounding the duration of the strikes may also encourage producers and directors to make creative choices that minimize the reliance on costly licensed music. They might opt for more dialogue-heavy scenes or lean towards genres and storylines that demand less music accompaniment. This could lead to a shift in the industry’s musical landscape, impacting trends and preferences in music selection for visual media.
Increased Collaboration and Custom Compositions
On the other hand, the strikes could foster increased collaboration between filmmakers and composers. With production slowdowns, creatives may have more time to work closely with composers to develop custom-made soundscapes that fit their projects perfectly. This could elevate the quality of music in media and offer composers a chance to showcase their talent on a deeper level, potentially leading to more significant recognition and career opportunities once the strikes are resolved.
Digital Content and Streaming Platforms
While traditional film and TV production might be temporarily impacted by the strikes, the demand for digital content and streaming platforms is likely to continue rising. Online streaming services have become a dominant force in the entertainment industry, and they often seek original and diverse music for their shows and movies. Independent musicians and music libraries could seize this opportunity to forge relationships with streaming platforms, leading to a boost in their licensing and sync opportunities.
The ongoing WGA and SAG/AFTRA strikes have caused significant disruptions in the entertainment industry, affecting the livelihoods of professionals across various domains. In the realm of music licensing and sync, the strikes may lead to both challenges and opportunities. While established composers and libraries may face financial difficulties, independent musicians and smaller libraries could find a new window of opportunity in the market. Additionally, the strikes may encourage a shift in creative choices and foster closer collaborations between filmmakers and composers. Ultimately, the full extent of the impact on music licensing and sync will largely depend on the duration and resolution of the labor movements.