In a climate where many artists are struggling to find income streams every avenue helps and one area worth exploring is music placement in film and TV.
The ‘gatekeepers’ to these type of gigs are the music supervisors. The music supervisor is a person who coordinates the work of the composer, the editor, and sound mixers. Alternately, a person who researches, obtains rights to, and supplies songs for a production (namely films and television programs).
TV viewers (particularly those who are geeky about music) tend to notice what songs get used on shows, and those touches can be credited to the music supervisor.
If you want to find out who the music supervisor is on any given movie or TV show you might not have earmarked the Amazon owned Internet Movie Database as a go-to music industry resource but the site is packed with info on cast and crew members, including music supervisors.
Look up movies that have really great soundtracks then scroll through the credits and you’ll find out the names of the person responsible for music supervision.
Tunecore have a great introduction to the role of the music supervisor on their blog Tunecorner, “Supervision”Placing Music in a Movie or TV Show, Part I”
“First off, music supervision is primarily concerned with connecting the right song with the right moving image; be that a TV commercial, a movie, or a TV show. The more accurate term for “connecting” in the sentence above is “synchronizing.” So, a “synch” or “synchronization,” is the act of taking a piece of music and connecting it with a moving image in a movie or TV show/ad. Given this, you should quickly realize that music supervision has a lot to do with music publishing. You can’t simply grab any piece of music you want and throw it in a film. There are a host of copyright issues surrounding synchronizations that, in large part, define the role of the music supervisor.”
“While in theory the music supervisor is responsible for choosing the music to synchronize with the images, it’s really the director (particularly the auteur of the 70s, the last great era of American cinema*) who controls the vision. Often the director will “comp” (ie: temporarily place) the music in a film, fall in love with the way this music compliments the images, and then task the music supervisor with “clearing” the music.”
There’s more detail in the follow up post:“Supervision”–Placing Music in a Movie or TV Show, Part II.”
Goodnight Kiss have another informative article on music licensing, ‘Money For Your Music-The Cold-Cash Facts About Music Licensing’. Where musician/ marketer GMan talks to various music supervisors and music industry people.
“Music supervisors Frankie Pine and P.J. Bloom have the best piece of advice for artists placing music: “When you get the call, say Thank You!” says Bloom. “There are so many people trying to get songs into soundtracks, that it is important to get in the door and create a relationship.”
There’s several insightful interviews with music supervisor’s that reveal insider info into the medium. Ascap talk to Kier Lehman who is behind the music for shows like CSI and Entourage. He reveals how he finds music for the shows he works on.
“I search for a lot of music. I listen to a lot of music personally, which is why I was a good fit for the job. I was already very interested in just listening to tons of new music and finding new and old music. It started with definitely just having a good knowledge base of music styles in general and artists.”
“What is the best advice you could give to songwriters and composers to get noticed by music supervisors?
Don’t get frustrated. It’s a hard process. It’s not easy. I would have to stress that to everybody. It’s definitely not easy to get your stuff noticed if you’re independent and doing it on your own. Aligning yourself with a manager or even an agent who has relationships with music supervisors, studios, directors and producers to pitch your music is really the best thing to do.”
Another music supervisor you would maybe have heard their work but not known their name is Gary Calamar. Calamar is a DJ at KCRW but got Grammy nominated for his work on Six Feet Under and during the day sources music for TV shows including Dexter, House and Entourage.
“On some shows, such as the 1970s-steeped “Swingtown,” he looks for time-capsule hits viewers will recognize instantly, but with something like the quirky “Weeds,” the soundtrack is far more of a pop-culture safari.“Sometimes things are too right on the nose, you want to go off of that sometimes and surprise people. You certainly don’t want to ever bore them.”
If any show set the gold standard for TV soundtracks it was ‘The OC’, renown for its ultra cool indie soundtrack, sourced by Alexandra Patsavas of Chop Shop who nowadays works in the same capacity for Grey’s Anatomy and Gossip Girl.
To find the right tune, Patsavas pores over 400 CDs a week. “I just get through it,” she says. “Really bad music reveals itself quickly. And the good stuff – when you hear it, you know it.”
She compiles the best tracks for the producers to hear in the cutting room or the car. Sometimes the music is already in the script. Other times, she’ll pitch a song after reading the script or after the show’s been shot and edited. “There’s really no formula,” she says. “I keep the signature sound for a show in mind, pitching certain songs for an operation scene or a date scene.”
During my research for this piece I found that the majority of people mentioned on here where on either Facebook, LinkedIn and even MySpace. So its worth searching those three social networks if you want to try and connect outside of their own websites.
One of the best ways to get your music listened too by Hollywood music supervisors to is to go through LA based Luke Eddins website Luke Hits. Eddins hooks up talented underground musicians with entertainment studios seeking a perfect (and, preferably, inexpensive) ditty for their next movie, television show or commercial.
Unlike some agencies, Eddins said he does not charge bands to represent them until a deal is reached. Meanwhile, he is deluged daily by CDs of varying genres and quality.
Eddins says he listens to every song he receives, keeping an ear out for tracks he enjoys and that could be marketable in Hollywood. And bands retain all of their rights to the song, entering into an agreement directly with the film studio. They can make up to $15 000 a song, and typically pay Eddins a third of that.
More Music Supervisor Linkage
Chop Shop Records Alexandra Patsavas record label.
The Music Bridge Music licensing and supervision.
Deep Mix Music supervision company headed by Dave Curtin and Brad Colerick.
Zync Music Sanne Hagelsten places music from unsigned bands. Norwegian Kate Havnevik, who lives in the States, had her music used six times on the popular hospital series Grey’s Anatomy. This resulted in a record deal with Universal.
Alexandra Patsavas Interview (Rcrdlbl.com)
PJ Bloom Interview (Rcrdlbl.com)
Anastasia Brown Interview (Reel Ladies)
Gary Calamar Interview (Rcrdlbl.com)
11 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Music Licensing (Signature Sound)
Sync Or Sink? (Fatdrop.co.uk)
Breaking Into The Film and TV Music Markets (Indie-Music.com)
Example Synchronization License Contract (Seuitv.com PDF)
Anything and Everything For a Song (CNN.com)
Power Panel: Getting Your Music Placed in TV & Films (Zoom In)
Anatomy of a Hit Song (NewYorkPost.com)
Maximum Exposure- The 100 Best Ways For Your Music To Get Attention (DavidCookOfficial.com)
Legal Guide-Music Rights (BBC.co.uk)
Hit The Ground Running: Creating Boutique Music For Hit TV Shows From CSI to Entourage (ABlueSky.com)
The Running Man (Ascap.com)
Music Man Sets The Mood (LA Times)
TV’s Music Men (And Women) And The Art Of The Soundtrack (Idolator)
Interview with Alexandra Patsavas, Music Supervisor for The O.C.(Bulls-Eye.com)
Producing Music For Film and TV (Beatportal.com)
Licensing Your Music (PerformerMag.com)
Adventures In Music Licensing ( Winogradsky.com)