Music Supervisors Explain How They Find Independent Music For Movies And TV [Part 1]



After posting about independent music in advertising, I was asked about the process of bringing your music to the attention of music supervisors and others who can broadcast your music on TV, in in movies and in commercials. I had already put together a series of interviews with music supervisors, so it seemed appropriate to present some of their comments on how they find music.

The following quotes from music supervisors who find music for movies and television are taken from articles I discovered through the Music license Twitter feed (also the source of the above thumbnail). Another way to look at the way Music Supervisors think and operate is NARIP’s collection of Music Supervisor Sessions on YouTube. Please feel free to share additional resources in the comments.

Music supervisors explain how they find music

Andrea von Foerster, who puts a lot of music in movies, says she doesn’t have a system but clearly has certain habits, including checking her inbox for over a thousand emails a day:

“I listen to whatever comes to me, and sometimes it can even be a year later, but I’ve placed songs that I heard a year later, so it’s never too late for me to d ‘hear something, because you really only need the right project for that. I definitely worked on things where people are like that, it’s out now, you should listen to that, but I didn’t room for that. Maybe six months later I’ve got you got the perfect spot for that. So you never really know what you’re going to get. And it’s always a little frustrating, because in a movie, you don’t really get a chance to use anything right away on a movie for a year to two years, so in the meantime you have to worry about TV, commercials or trailers that broadcast something before it can be in your movie… ”

“It’s all about finding something within the time frame and price you have. For the most part, I’m not really on the hipster blogs everyone is talking about. I don’t care what other people think about music, because it may not suit their ears, but it fits my project. i actually watch endless videos on youtube at around four in the morning, and i just go from thread to thread to another . Having a British musical background, I tend to watch as many British music videos as possible and find new artists that way. “

Ann Kline, musical director of the Showtime Shameless series, which features up to thirty songs per episode, focuses primarily on indie rock:

“There are so many independent bands that are accessible through the internet and so many licensing companies bringing them together and helping you find what is appropriate for your show. I have a lot of great contacts but we are definitely going to independent companies. almost exclusively. It’s rare that we use stuff from a big record company. So we find it everywhere. Even when we were first putting music together for the show, I would call clubs in Chicago and ask to some of their favorite indie bands to get that vibe. “

Lindsay Wolfington, who oversees music for One Tree Hill, describes how she finds music in relation to the selection process for a particular script:

“When I get the script I read it and mark scenes where I think a song will go – sometimes it’s obvious because we’re in a bar, other times it’s an emotional moment that I think we will want to score with a song. Then I break down all the scenes in a spreadsheet, I divide where we’re going to spend our money (because we can’t use great artists in every location, hence our search for great independent artists!), then I put my headphones on. flip through the new albums that I have received from major labels, publishers, and companies that represent independent artists. And then I also go through the folders in which I have filtered the music. I have folders in my iTunes for soft music, for dramatic come “moments, then upbeat and quirky songs.”

“I send my suggestions (2 to 3 songs per spot, usually 3 to 4 for the coda) to the editor who cuts that episode and they initiate them. Then, as the episodes are refined, we revise music accordingly Sometimes the scene reads completely different in the script than on the camera, so I just put my headphones back on and find better choices!

Note that these supervisors mention the music they receive from labels and companies that represent artists for licensing as well as the music they find on the web. They also use personal approaches, such as the Ann Kline calling clubs in Chicago. In the process, they consider a lot of music and turn down a huge amount of music that they like or that others like just because it doesn’t fit the project.

So it’s not just about making great music no matter what that really means, but being discoverable through the multiple channels used by music supervisors. For an unsigned freelance artist, that includes being on YouTube and other websites, as well as using the growing number of existing companies to pitch your music to music supervisors.

Be sure to check out this excellent interview with in-depth tips:
7 questions for a true live music supervisor: Sarah Gavigan from Get Your Music Licensed


Hypebot Features Writer Clyde Smith maintains his business writing center at Flux Research and dance blogs at All World Dance. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde (at) fluxresearch (dot) com.



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