Music Week Awards 2024: Warner Music UK's sync team on the Barbie phenomenon

Music Week Awards 2024: Warner Music UK's sync team on the Barbie phenomenon

Warner Music UK triumphed as Sync Team Of The Year at the Music Week Awards 2024. The Warner team retained the trophy they won in 2023.

The major was recognised for key placements including Gabriels’ cover of I Put A Spell On You soundtracking the closing montage of the Rugby World Cup, Ed Sheeran creating the recording A Beautiful Game for the series finale of Ted Lasso, and 3D from Massive Attack remixing Maria Callas for a Jean Paul Gaultier campaign.

The soundtrack business was also strong for Warner Music UK, including A&Ring new recordings for the Your Christmas Or Mine 2 soundtrack, including Sam Ryder’s You’re Christmas To Me.

But the most memorable sync event of 2023 was undoubtedly Barbie, the biggest film and soundtrack of the year. It is WB Pictures’ biggest film of all time, having grossed $1.34 billion by August last year. It is also climbing the all-time rankings for biggest films ever in terms of box office takings.

The soundtrack album was released via Warner Music’s Atlantic label, and it was overseen by Mark Ronson.

“It was super-exciting,” said Alex Bowers, head of licensing & sync at Warner Music UK. “When you see a project like that, you know it’s going to be a massive deal. When it was released, and with all the Barbie mania, it was nice to see that it was as big a deal as you thought it was going to be.” 

Barbie: The Album has more than one billion streams and was No.1 for 17 weeks on the UK compilations chart. 

“I am definitely not the kind of person to be like, ‘I think the soundtrack was worth 7% of the gross proceeds,’” Mark Ronson told Music Week last year. “It’s a fucking incredible movie and I think without us, they would have been fine. But it’s great that it’s now at a point where you can’t really separate the music from the film.” 

The blockbuster featured a No.1 single for Dance The Night by Warner Records artist Dua Lipa, who also had a cameo in the film. 

The track was nominated for Song Of The Year and Best Song Written For Visual Media at the Grammys, which featured a performance by Dua Lipa. Dance The Night is currently on 842 million Spotify streams globally.

“Writing for film was a massive learning experience and I’d like to do more of it,” said Dua Lipa in our Music Week cover story for her new album, Radical Optimism.

Warner Music UK’s sync team worked closely to secure key placements within the film and soundtrack. 

“It was amazing to see Charli XCX and Dua included in a Hollywood film,” said Carly Reid, director of sync. “Championing UK artists and Warner artists [in the film] – that was quite incredible to see.”

Dua Lipa’s Dance The Night (From Barbie The Album) is approaching a million sales in the UK. Its tally to date is 959,169 (Official Charts Company). Meanwhile, Charli XCX’s Speed Drive, which peaked at No.9, has amassed 352,969 sales to date.

Barbie: The Album has UK sales to date of 219,877 and continues to stream well.

“I think it exceeded the expectations that we had, so it was great to see,” said Bowers of the soundtrack. “It’s still having a lasting impact on the charts and we're going to keep going forward with it. It was great to play our part in it and see it succeed in the way that it has.” 

Barbie’s success may yet yield more star-studded soundtracks, although it’s not as simple as just pulling in the stars.

“I’ve been on soundtracks before where it’s a shitload of famous people and it feels like there was no rhyme or reason as to why all these songs were sitting together, but Barbie was really unified,” said Ronson. “It’s great when that does happen, but I don’t think that it’s necessarily a thing where people will be like, ‘Now we’ve got to do huge soundtracks again and just get big artists!’ This movie grabbed the cultural conversation. And we had all these wonderful songs right up there with it.”

Subscribers can read our feature on the Barbie: The Album soundtrack.


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