Perrin Lamb

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Sync City

Refusing a 9-5, sync license pro Perrin Lamb pioneers his own career.

Picture a young chap heavily involved in school musicals and church choir growing up in the rural southeast US.

Five-part harmony Sunday hymns christened him into the world of music, standing in the pews and singing comfortably in the bari-tenor range. His dad’s old truck did not have a radio, so a transistor radio picking up 2 AM stations hung from the rearview mirror. Riding around, he listened to Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash.

Around college graduation, the now young man discovered the likes of The Beatles and David Bowie on account of his songwriting comrades. A Mississippi studio dweller buddy gave him positive feedback on his music skills at the 23 or 24-year-old mark, before he had written any songs or had given any serious thought to pursuing music.

Back in 2000, the turn of a century and the turning of a page, at 25 the young singer/songwriter moved to Music City, USA. Having only one or two contacts in the city of Nashville, the move here led to shadowing writers to learn the trade and eventually blossoming as a songwriter. Ten years later, that songwriter, by the name of Perrin Lamb, is grateful for having made the decision to become a songwriter, giving him the ability to support his family without clocking in and out at an office.

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Though Perrin pursued an indie singer/songwriter career for at least baker’s dozen of years, he now focuses on his latest project: partner and A&R guy of Sorted Noise, a sync licensing company riding the Nashville vibe.

Perrin’s Business partner and one of the founding members of TONS, Josh Collum opened Perrin’s eyes to HOME through a TONS event held at our headquarters, though he cannot recall precisely when the event took place. Having been on the crucial lookout for a studio home base, Perrin had an enlightening chat with Logan and concluded HOME would be a good fit for his needs, though Perrin admits he and HOME are still in the early dating phase.

I asked Perrin how he would explain sync licensing to someone who doesn’t know the inner workings of the music industry.

He responded:

When you see a TV show or movie and there’s a pop or instrumental song in the background, those songs have to be licensed. The shows don’t own them, so the TV or movie company has to pay a fee to use the music; they have to license it. As far as price, there is a scale, based on the length of the track and whether or not there are vocals, etc. To choose a song, the music supervisor for the show or movie finds music and presents the director or a similar worker with the best music for each scene, based on what the director says the scene needs.

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Sorted Noise comes in the picture when the supervisor either needs to find songs, or needs the sync license for the song. Sorted Noise will then negotiate the best price for the song’s artist, so the show or movie benefits as much as the musician does. Part of the licensing fee goes towards commission for Sorted Noise as well. Since sync does not necessarily correlate with music industry trends, so the songs synched with visual media are not always hit songs. Popular or underground, the visual directors seek what song fits best in a scene, since choosing the wrong song can ruin the mood of a particular scene.

Perrin enjoys working with TV production the most, since they tend to use more music with more of an artistic license as opposed to an attention-grabbing ad, or a blockbuster film that will hire a composer to create a score.

He and his business partner give more attention to Nashville artists simply because they are passionate about the community we have and believe in the city’s artists. In fact, about 99% of the artists they work with are independent, mostly discovered through trusted sources. Not to say that Perrin dislikes music submissions, but the quantity can become overwhelming.

What Perrin loves is discovering an artist and working with them to help develop their career, seeing them grow and blossom. Since Perrin himself was once a beginning artist, he understands the amount of gut it takes to submit music, so he always willingly gives submissions a listen. His job does include saying no to some artists, but according to his business partner Josh,

a person’s success is shaped by how many awkward conversations they’re willing to have.

According to Perrin, sync licensing is hugely important for an artist’s success, especially today with the state of the music industry. Case in point, all major publishers and labels now have sync teams, whereas before sync was basically an afterthought. One common complaint today is the drop in physical sales or the close-to-no-payoff of streams. With show and movie streaming services, however, sync opportunities increase by the day. A sync fee holds a quantifiable amount of money and does not fully depend on interaction with music listeners.

All in all, the importance of sync licensing is far more predictable and reliable than aiming for a radio or Spotify hit.

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Written and interviewed by Andra Ingram