Photo: Mackenzie Sweetnam/Stringer
Tracking The Rise Of Singer Dean Lewis Through Sync: From "Riverdale" To "Grey's Anatomy"
"If you're in a great scene and your music lends itself to that, it becomes part of the world of the show," Australian pop artist Dean Lewis tells GRAMMY.com.
The right music can elevate a scene in a film or episode of television to a new level, amplifying a mood or adding context. Also known as sync placement (or synchronization), the purposeful matching of song and multimedia have been helping artists around the globe create new revenue streams for decades.
Sync has had a direct effect on the career of 34-year-old Australian pop artist Dean Lewis — particularly in America. "It’s such a huge way to get your music out there," the singer tells GRAMMY.com ahead of a performance at New York's Webster Hall.
Lewis’ music gleans heartbreak yet remains uplifting, and has had soundtracked pivotal emotional scenes in television shows such as "Grey's Anatomy," "Magnum P.I." and "Suits." After his debut song "Waves" was featured on "Riverdale" in 2016, the song peaked at No. 12 on the Australian ARIA Charts and hit No. 1 on the Billboard Emerging Artists Chart.
His upward trajectory continued with Lewis’ 2018 single, "Be Alright." The track hit No. 1 in Australia in a mere four weeks, going 11x platinum. Now, Lewis has his sights set on cracking the US market with an upcoming single, "How Do I Say Goodbye."
Lewis' emotional and vulnerable music has clearly touched a nerve, with fans lined up outside Webster Hall in the pouring rain, some even carrying handmade signs. Despite his sincere lyricism and time spent talking to his fans, Lewis attributes much of his billions of streams and massive TikTok following to sync.
And sync is on the rise: The RIAA reported a 14.2 percent increase in sync licensing from 2020 to 2021, accounting for 302.9 million dollars in royalty revenue in 2021. GRAMMY.com spoke with Lewis about how sync has influenced his career, and advice he has for other artists who want to enter that market.
You’ve got a lot of impressive sync placements from "Riverdale" to "Gray’s Anatomy" to "Suits." Can you tell us how that happened?
Yes! I remember the first time I got a sync. It was for "Riverdale." "Riverdale" was so special because when "Waves" came out, I was only getting around 20,000 views on YouTube. After a month and no one was caring about it, we got word that it was going to be in the "Riverdale" season finale.
Then, within a week, I had a million views! My followers went up, and I thought, "Wow!" Then the song started breaking in Australia and ended up going nine times platinum. But if it wasn't for that (the "Riverdale" placement), I don't think that would have happened.
"Riverdale" was a great watch, and very popular in the United States. Was that the first time your music started gaining traction?
Yeah! From "Riverdale," that was the first big thing that I had. The song was out, I wasn't doing any marketing, and that placement helped get many streams. If you're in a great scene and your music lends itself to that, it becomes part of the world of the show. Whereas, sometimes you just get added and it's not really a special scene. It's just more of a quick moment. You can't pick those. It's really luck.
Are you able to share metrics with us?
From "Riverdale," what I remember was I had 20,000 views on YouTube. And then, by the end of the week, my Spotify streams went from like — I think it was like 10,000 a day — to around 200,000 a day. And it's literally stayed that way for "Waves" for five years.
And you lose perspective of numbers after a while because you go, what's a million? What's a billion? You can't visualize it, but it all just helps. And now the world's changing so much on TikTok, it’s a great way to get more streams.
How did you feel when you first heard your song on TV?
I was in London when "Riverdale" was on, and I was in some hotel room, and I stayed up and I watched it. I didn't know "Riverdale" was a big show…. I [didn’t] really have a lot of context because I hadn't seen the show yet, but it was really cool.
What is your favorite placement that you've had so far?
Wow, that's a good question. I would actually probably say "Riverdale" has a special place in my heart because it's so special. There was a great one in Suits. It was really good. Many people messaged me and followed me because of Suits as well. They put the acoustic version of "Waves" in it.
So how did that placement on Riverdale initially happen? Did you get rejected first?
No, my publishing company, basically they just tell me, "Hey, you got to sync." And then they go, "Do you want to do it?" Yes, of course!
Weirdly, certain songs sync better than others. Like my song "Be Alright," which is my biggest song, doesn't get any syncs because it's very specific, theoretically. Whereas my song "Waves," it's more ethereal and more people can interpret it.
Certain songs get synced more than others, and it's not something you think about when you're writing a song, because my biggest song doesn't get any syncs, but my other songs get more syncs. It’s a very weird world and you can't plan it. They really just come to us or they speak to my publishing company and that's how it all happens.
Do you ever write with sync in mind, or is it more of an afterthought?
No, I really write selfishly. I write for myself. What do I love? What do I like? What do I want to hear? And then I want to make it great. And then I want everyone to love it. So I don't really write for sync, but a lot of time you finish an album and you go, oh, this song sounds like it would sync really well. After COVID — I haven't had as many syncs recently. I think everyone hasn't.
Makes sense that syncs would be lower these last few years. Production for films and TV had been shut down for a number of months. If you could have any kind of sync placement, what's your dream show?
Getting a sync in a big film trailer because I've never really had one of those!
You mentioned TikTok helps with streams as well. I checked your TikTok and you seem to be actively engaging with fans in a truly heartfelt way.
I'm just grateful for it. I got on TikTok two years ago because I saw it was up and coming. I thought I was late, but I think a lot of people never went on to it. It’s such a great place for people to break things quickly. I appreciate the fact that I was all over it with fans making videos to my music.
I started on TikTok because of COVID. I was thinking, Am I ever going to get back to doing shows? Are people going to remember me? So I appreciate it when [TikTok users] duet my music. And I appreciate it when we come to a show and see fan reactions. We film that for TikTok. I love it.
What do you think about the future of music in general? What do you think about NFTs and the metaverse? Do you think that's going to be a thing?
Oh, I have no idea about that. I know — I'm really boring. I think now I would say to people, you have to constantly be putting stuff out there and just keep releasing it. It’s very different now. I've never seen so many artists.
Every second thing is a new song, and they're all really good at the time, but there's also more independence. You don't rely so much on record labels to break you. It's really, you putting in the work. How much do you want to make it happen? How good is the stuff that you write? I mean, I don't know how to market my stuff and create a trend. But all I know how to do is write songs that I'm proud of, and then just keep posting about them. The strategy I've sort of done is the strategy of just living as a musician.
Back to sync — what countries do you have sync placements in?
I've had some in Australia, but mainly big US shows and some commercials.
If you could pick one country to start getting sync placements, where would it be?
Oh, wow. That's a good question. I'd probably say probably America. Everyone wants to crack America, so more American syncs for sure.
Is there anything else you just want to say about sync or advice for artists that are trying to get into sync?
Yeah. I mean, find a good company. I just signed to a publishing company and they've gotten me a lot of syncs. But the world changes so much in the sync world. I would just say, make sure you have a team of people that really believe in you and sign with them if they believe in you and you have those connections. Trust that, rather than just a big check, you know what I mean?
Definitely, and what advice do you have for artists and creatives of all kinds?
My advice to anyone who's creative is to always say "No," because people will tell you straight to your face what to do and what will work. And then, when it doesn't work, they will disappear and you're left with it on your own. Only do what you want to do, because, at the end of the day, that's all that matters.
Don't fail on someone else's terms. There are so many people in this industry who will tell you what to do, and then they will be gone when it doesn't work. And I've been lucky to say "No" to everyone. I always say "No."
GRAMMY SoundChecks With Gavin DeGraw
On Aug. 28 Nashville Chapter GRAMMY U members took part in GRAMMY SoundChecks with Gavin DeGraw. Approximately 30 students gathered at music venue City Hall and watched DeGraw play through some of the singles from earlier in his career along with "Cheated On Me" from his latest self-titled album.
In between songs, DeGraw conducted a question-and-answer session and inquired about the talents and goals of the students in attendance. He gave inside tips to the musicians present on how to make it in the industry and made sure that every question was answered before moving onto the next song.
Juan Gabriel named 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person Of The Year
Annual star-studded gala slated for Nov. 4 in Las Vegas during 10th Annual Latin GRAMMY Week celebration
Internationally renowned singer/songwriter/performer Juan Gabriel will be celebrated as the 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year, it was announced today by The Latin Recording Academy. Juan Gabriel, chosen for his professional accomplishments as well as his commitment to philanthropic efforts, will be recognized at a star-studded concert and black tie dinner on Nov. 4 at the
The "Celebration with Juan Gabriel" gala will be one of the most prestigious events held during Latin GRAMMY week, a celebration that culminates with the 10th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards ceremony. The milestone telecast will be held at
"As we celebrate this momentous decade of the Latin GRAMMYs, The Latin Recording Academy and its Board of Trustees take great pride in recognizing Juan Gabriel as an extraordinary entertainer who never has forgotten his roots, while at the same time having a global impact," said Latin Recording Academy President Gabriel Abaroa. "His influence on the music and culture of our era has been tremendous, and we welcome this opportunity to pay a fitting tribute to a voice that strongly resonates within our community."
Over the course of his 30-year career, Juan Gabriel has sold more than 100 million albums and has performed to sold-out audiences throughout the world. He has produced more than 100 albums for more than 50 artists including Paul Anka, Lola Beltran, Rocío Dúrcal, and Lucha Villa among many others. Additionally, Juan Gabriel has written more than 1,500 songs, which have been covered by such artists as Marc Anthony, Raúl Di Blasio, Ana Gabriel, Angelica María, Lucia Mendez, Estela Nuñez, and Son Del Son. In 1986, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley declared Oct. 5 "The Day of Juan Gabriel." The '90s saw his induction into Billboard's Latin Music Hall of Fame and he joined La Opinion's Tributo Nacional Lifetime Achievement Award recipients list.
At the age of 13, Juan Gabriel was already writing his own songs and in 1971 recorded his first hit, "No Tengo Dinero," which landed him a recording contract with RCA. Over the next 14 years, he established himself as Mexico's leading singer/songwriter, composing in diverse styles such as rancheras, ballads, pop, disco, and mariachi, which resulted in an incredible list of hits ("Hasta Que Te Conocí," "Siempre En Mi Mente," "Querida," "Inocente Pobre Amigo," "Abrázame Muy Fuerte," "Amor Eterno," "El Noa Noa," and "Insensible") not only for himself but for many leading Latin artists. In 1990, Juan Gabriel became the only non-classical singer/songwriter to perform at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in
After a hiatus from recording, Juan Gabriel released such albums as Gracias Por Esperar, Juntos Otra Vez, Abrázame Muy Fuerte, Los Gabriel…Para Ti, Juan Gabriel Con La Banda…El Recodo, and El Mexico Que Se Nos Fue, which were all certified gold and/or platinum by the RIAA. In 1996, to commemorate his 25th anniversary in the music industry, BMG released a retrospective set of CDs entitled 25 Aniversario, Solos, Duetos, y Versiones Especiales, comprised appropriately of 25 discs.
In addition to his numerous accolades and career successes, Juan Gabriel has been a compassionate and generous philanthropist. He has donated all proceeds from approximately 10 performances a year to his favorite children's foster homes, and proceeds from fan photo-ops go to support Mexican orphans. In 1987, he founded Semjase, an orphanage for approximately 120 children, which also serves as a music school with music, recreation and video game rooms. Today, he continues to personally fund the school he opened more than 22 years ago.
Juan Gabriel will have the distinction of becoming the 10th Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year honoree, and joins a list of artists such as Gloria Estefan, Gilberto Gil, Juan Luis Guerra, Julio Iglesias, Ricky Martin, and Carlos Santana among others who have been recognized.
For information on purchasing tickets or tables to The Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year tribute to Juan Gabriel, please contact The Latin Recording Academy ticketing office at 310.314.8281 or email@example.com.
Photo: The Recording Academy
Set List Bonus: Bumbershoot 2013
Welcome to The Set List. Here you'll find the latest concert recaps for many of your favorite, or maybe not so favorite, artists. Our bloggers will do their best to provide you with every detail of the show, from which songs were on the set list to what the artist was wearing to which out-of-control fan made a scene. Hey, it'll be like you were there. And if you like what you read, we'll even let you know where you can catch the artist on tour. Feel free to drop us a comment and let us know your concert experience. Oh, and rock on.
By Alexa Zaske
This past Labor Day weekend meant one thing for many folks in Seattle: Bumbershoot, a three-decade-old music and arts event that consumed the area surrounding the Space Needle from Aug. 31–Sept. 2. Amid attendees wandering around dressed as zombies and participating in festival-planned flash mobs to Michael Jackson's "Thriller," this year the focus was on music from the Pacific Northwest region — from the soulful sounds of Allen Stone and legendary female rockers Heart, to the highly-awaited return of Death Cab For Cutie performing their 2003 hit album Transatlanticism in its entirety.
The festival started off on day one with performances by synth-pop group the Flavr Blue, hip-hop artist Grynch, rapper Nacho Picasso, psychedelic pop group Beat Connection, lively rapper/writer George Watsky, hip-hop group the Physics, and (my personal favorite), punk/dance band !!! (Chk Chk Chk). Also performing on day one was Seattle folk singer/songwriter Kris Orlowski, who was accompanied by the Passenger String Quartet. As always, Orlowski's songs were catchy and endearing yet brilliant and honest.
Day one came to a scorching finale with a full set from GRAMMY-nominated rock group Heart. Kicking off with their Top 20 hit "Barracuda," the set spanned three decades of songs, including "Heartless," "Magic Man" and "What About Love?" It became a gathering of Seattle rock greats when, during Heart's final song, Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready joined for 1976's "Crazy On You."
Day two got off to an early start with performances from eccentric Seattle group Kithkin and Seattle ladies Mary Lambert and Shelby Earl, who were accompanied by the band Le Wrens. My highlight of the day was the Grizzled Mighty — a duo with a bigger sound than most family sized bands. Drummer Whitney Petty, whose stage presence and skills make for an exciting performance, was balanced out by the easy listening of guitarist and lead singer Ryan Granger.
Then the long-awaited moment finally fell upon Seattle when, after wrapping a long-awaited tour with the Postal Service, singer/songwriter Ben Gibbard returned to Seattle to represent another great success of the Pacific Northwest — Death Cab For Cutie. The band celebrated the 10-year anniversary of their album Transatlanticism by performing it from front to back. While a majority of attendees opted to watch the set from an air-conditioned arena, some of us recognized the uniqueness of this experience and enjoyed the entire set lying in the grass where the entire performance was streamed.
Monday was the day for soul and folk. Local blues/R&B group Hot Bodies In Motion have been making their way through the Seattle scene with songs such as "Old Habits," "That Darkness" and "The Pulse." Their set was lively and enticing to people who have seen them multiple times or never at all.
My other highlights of the festival included the Maldives, who delivered a fun performance with the perfect amount of satirical humor and folk. They represent the increasing number of Pacific Northwest bands who consist of many members playing different sounds while still managing to stay cohesive and simple. I embraced the return of folk/pop duo Ivan & Alyosha with open arms and later closed my festival experience with local favorite Stone.
For music fans in Seattle and beyond, the annual Bumbershoot festival is a must-attend.
(Alexa Zaske is the Chapter Assistant for The Recording Academy Pacific Northwest Chapter. She's a music enthusiast and obsessed with the local Seattle scene.)
Neil Portnow and Jimmy Jam
Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images
Neil Portnow Addresses Diversity & Inclusion, Looks Ahead During Speech At 2019 GRAMMYs
Jimmy Jam helps celebrate the outgoing President/CEO of the Recording Academy on the 61st GRAMMY Awards
As Neil Portnow's tenure as Recording Academy President/CEO draws to its end, five-time GRAMMY winner Jimmy Jam paid tribute to his friend and walked us through a brief overview of some of the Academy's major recent achievements, including the invaluable work of MusiCares, the GRAMMY Museum, Advocacy and more.
Portnow delivered a brief speech, acknowledging the need to continue to focus on issues of diversity and inclusion in the music industry. He also seized the golden opportunity to say the words he's always wanted to say on the GRAMMY stage, saying, "I'd like to thank the Academy," showing his gratitude and respect for the staff, elected leaders and music community he's worked with during his career at the Recording Academy. "We can be so proud of what we’ve all accomplished together," Portnow added.
"As I finish out my term leading this great organization, my heart and soul are filled with gratitude, pride, for the opportunity and unequal experience," he continued. "Please know that my commitment to all the good that we do will carry on as we turn the page on the next chapter of the storied history of this phenomenal institution."