What Do YOU Do In The Shadows After You Pour Yourself a Scotch

Bryan Paul Bell wrote Devil’s Gotta Dance in, get this…2008.  I asked Bryan about his experience in synching and how this all came about for him, and how, almost 15 years later, this song is blowing up.

How did you come up with this song? 

I was home one evening, poured myself a scotch, and played around with a riff.  At the end of the night, the instrumental was done, and the next morning, the lyrics came to me over bagels and coffee.  I had “Devil’s…” and few other songs mixed at a professional studio in West LA and then got it mastered.  You need to use professionals for mixing and mastering. It can seem easy, but without the necessary training and gear your product might not be up to snuff. If you’re going to try it yourself, Izotope has products like Neutron and Ozone that can help you get it into the sonic ballpark. 

Tell me about your synching experience with Devil’s Gotta Dance.

The best thing for anyone who wants to synch their music is to join Taxi. https://www.taxi.com/  I did that and submitted “Devil’s…” for anything that I thought might be even remotely what they were looking for. I got rejection after rejection and each one of them stung. Maybe it was my persistence that made Taxi finally pass it on to a publishing company that was looking for a “blues-rock” song. The publisher decided to sign it and then… nothing. A year passed, then two. Then one evening I got an email that “Californication” had licensed it. It was used in the background in a bar scene for no more than ten seconds but that was all it took for people to take notice and track it down. Then it found it’s way onto “The Vampire Diaries”. I started my own record label and I figured I’d rather have the masters and publishing, so I ended my publishing deal last year, and the timing couldn’t have been better.  In March 2022, Nora Felder (Music Supervisor for WWDITS) got in touch with me (just like Ingrid did!).  I hadn’t submitted it to them. She said “Devil’s…”  was the kind of “cool, timeless” song they like to use and asked if I’d be interested in licensing it to them.  I’m a huge WWDITS fan, so of course I agreed. Also, it was a big advantage that I own the master and publishing. One stop-shops are always a plus. It cuts down on the negotiating licensees have to do, and the payment was very generous. I really think Nora respects the role music plays in productions and that artists deserve to make money from their craft.  

What are your thoughts on having both instrumental and lyrical versions of songs?

It is absolutely necessary to have instrumental versions of everything you produce if you want synch.  Artists need to have high-resolution versions as well as the standard CD quality files. High-resolution would be at least 24-bit where CDs are 16-bit. They used my 16-bit version in WWDITS, but you look more pro if you have both versions.  I wasn’t even thinking about synch when I produced “Devil’s…” so to save money on mastering, I just mastered at 16-bit. I regret it now and everything I’m producing for the new album has full and instrumental versions and are mastered at 16 and 24-bit. It’s also good to get an ADM version (Apple Digital Master) so that you can provide high quality versions on Apple Music. Doing all of this is more expensive if, like me, you’re having professionals do it, but Izotope Ozone does a pretty decent job of mastering (not ADM though) if you’re on a budget and can spend some time learning how to do it.

Do you do a lot of synching?

I don’t actively look for synchs. I’ve done virtually nothing up to this point to promote my music. Yet one great song continues to garner not only synchs, but tens of thousands of plays on the streaming platforms. I find that to be the most rewarding part of making music; knowing that so many people have found my music and (hopefully) gotten some pleasure out of listening to it. We are born creators and creating, in and of itself, brings a kind of fulfillment that money never can. I think we’re all conditioned to think that we’ll finally be happy if we can just get “x” amount of dollars or “x” number of fans. Of course, once that goal is reached, and the joy of getting it fades away, we’re right back on the hamster wheel trying to reach the level that will finally make us permanently happy.  What I strive for is to make music that I love; music that I’d want to listen to. I’ve tried to make music that sounds “current” or similar to other artists who have found success, and, in my case, the end product sounds contrived and artificial and I loathe it.  But that’s just me.  If you want to start making money from your music through synch, get good at sounding like the latest thing. Get good at sounding like the artists Taxi asks you to use as a reference in their listings.  That is an admirable skill, and a lot of people make good money doing just that.