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SYNC seeks to harmonize creative efforts of UCLA singer-songwriters, filmmakers

An illustrated musician Bruin bear holding a guitar serenades a filmmaker Bruin bear in the corridor between Macgowan Hall and Melnitz Hall. The newly founded student organization SYNC aims to connect filmmakers and musicians of all skill levels to foster a more diverse and welcoming entertainment industry. (Photo by Leydi Cris Cobo Cordon/Daily Bruin senior staff. Photo illustration by Emily Hu/Daily Bruin)

By Puja Anand

May 2, 2024 5:18 p.m.

This post was updated May 5 at 8:32 p.m.

These women are reinventing sync placements.

First-year sociology student Rachel Jos, first-year business economics student Kate Iwamoto and first-year sociology student Candace Tsay launched the student organization SYNC during winter quarter. SYNC aims to form connections between budding singer-songwriters and filmmakers in order for them to mutually achieve their artistic goals, Jos said. Beyond acting as a creative outlet, Iwamoto said the organization aims to be a business agency, providing a platform for independent artists to pursue their own projects. Upon meeting each other, Iwamoto said the founders immediately bonded over their passion for art and entertainment, propelling the idea of SYNC as a space for fellow creative students.

“Right now, we function as an agency – fostering collaboration with different artists and helping out with the creative process but not dictating it,” Jos said.

The lack of organizations providing real-world opportunities for student singer-songwriters inspired SYNC’s founders to take matters into their own hands, Tsay said. Though UCLA is brimming with clubs, Tsay added that several of them are exclusive, making it difficult for curious students to find a place where they belong. To combat such alienation and the competitive applications of other clubs, Jos said SYNC welcomes musicians and filmmakers of all experience levels. By opening up collaborations to new artists, the organization promotes inclusivity and provides an accessible outlet for anyone’s creativity, she added.

When artists reach out and apply to the organization, they are added to a roster of singer-songwriters and filmmakers, Jos said. Subsequently, based on shared aesthetics, SYNC matches artists to create new projects, Tsay said. Though SYNC is a budding organization, Tsay added that her pursuit of a music industry minor has exposed her to several passionate singer-songwriters, thus increasing its reach. Though the collaborations are premeditated, she added that open communication and honest feedback ensure both artists involved fulfill their own visions.

[Related: UCLA graduate student creates open venue for experimental music artists]

Beyond matching similar artists and promoting student projects, SYNC stands out in its hands-on exposure to the intricacies of the entertainment industry, Jos said. For instance, as the head of the legal section of the organization, Jos said SYNC provides members with a place to explore entertainment law and view the development of artistic contracts firsthand. Jos added that the marketing department provides exposure to skills involved in social media, graphic design and the overall publicity that is key to an artist’s success. Hence, from law to marketing to production, SYNC gives young creatives a glimpse into the inner workings of the industry, she said.

Furthermore, Jos said a central specialty of the organization is that it gives independent artists a platform to produce their own work. A key issue in the industry is a lack of means for talented creatives to make their mark, she said, which SYNC aims to provide. From renting equipment to building connections, creating projects is expensive, and student singer-songwriters and filmmakers rarely have the funding to move forward, Tsay said. Through fostering collaborations and supporting new artistic endeavors, Jos said SYNC stands out as a platform for budding artists to navigate the entertainment industry.

“An issue right now with independent artists is that they have great work and there’s a lot of talent and potential, but they don’t necessarily have all of the means to market their work,” Jos said. “That’s where SYNC really comes in.”

For added exposure, SYNC plans to host networking events and invite speakers from the industry to allow members to build their own connections, Tsay said. The organization’s first mixer this month will be held in collaboration with another student organization, and will showcase musicians on SYNC’s roster as an opportunity to expand their reach and inform eager creatives of the organization, she added. By creating an inclusive, accepting environment through mixers and other events in collaboration with other artistic groups on campus, Tsay said SYNC hopes to combat the notion that becoming a successful artist is unreachable.

[Related: ‘Music in the Garden’ free public concert serenades UCLA botanical garden]

As it establishes itself as an agency, SYNC wishes to dive more into the production aspect of music and film, Iwamoto said. In the future, it aspires to have in-house production – a major goal of the organization, she said. Through fundraising and gradually building its roster of artists in the UCLA landscape, it hopes to ultimately work with established artists beyond campus, Iwamoto said.

As all the founders themselves come from different places with distinct career choices, Jos said they come together in their passion for art. Going forward, Jos added that they hope their variety of professional backgrounds appeals to the student body and encourages people from all walks of life to join them in their love for the arts.

Wielding its voice in the student crowd, SYNC strives to uplift underrepresented voices, Jos said. Student creatives from every background share the struggle of making a name for themselves in the industry, a collective feeling that brings people together, she added. Furthermore, film and music are media that allow for diverse representation and connect people beyond their backgrounds, Jos said, and the organization hopes to use the power of such media to enable bonds between different communities.

“Our objective in SYNC is to uplift underrepresented voices in the entertainment industry and foster that connection between students who are all going through the same struggle of wanting to get their work out there, wanting to have a creative outlet, but maybe not having the resources to do so,” Jos said.

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