"People are going for the sure shots": Music publishing giants and songwriters score big at Super Bowl 2024, with ad sync fees garnering millions

The Super Bowl has long been as anticipated for its half-time show, and the expensive ad slots around it, as for its actual football, and the budgets involved have only grown with the eyeballs accrued.

Take sync fees, for example. When Christopher Walken happens across this year's half-time star Usher in the BMW spot above, they say 'yeah!' to each other and a waiter a few times. And despite no melody or other lyric being used, the six songwriters behind Usher's 2004 hit Yeah! got to split a full sync fee, which would have been substantial, to say the least.

“It was a full fee, like they were using the entire song.” Pamela Lillig, VP of sync licensing at BMG, told Billboard Pro, adding that “because Usher’s in it, they [BMW] felt they probably should” pay for the full song.

Senior VP at UMPG Tom Eaton said, “The majority of songs used this year are catalog songs,” meaning they're instantly recognisable safe bets. Street Rhythm Band’s Express Yourself also featured in the BMW ad, and elsewhere Dove soap used Hard-Knock Life from the Annie soundtrack; Budweiser deployed The Weight by The Band; and VW synced Neil Diamond's I Am... I Said.

“What you’re seeing this year is people are going for the sure shots.” Patrick Joest at Hipgnosis, which part-owns stakes in Heart‘s Barracuda and DJ Snake and Lil Jon‘s Turn Down for What, which also featured.

Syncing is significant business for publishers year round, worth an estimated $1.5 billion dollars annually, but the Super Bowl payday is a big chunk of that, with Billboard's sources putting individual fees for the CBS broadcast slots in 2024 in a range from $150,000 upwards, maxing out above the $1 million mark.

And given that UPMG and Sony alone garnered 18 Bowl fees each, while Warner Chappell had 13 syncs, alongside at least 15 for other publishers you can probably, as they say, do the math.

Will Groves

I'm lucky enough to be MusicRadar's Editor-in-chief while being, by some considerable distance, the least proficient musician on the editorial team. An undeniably ropey but occasionally enthusiastic drummer, I've worked on the world's greatest music making website in one capacity or another since its launch in 2007. I hope you enjoy the site - we do.