Thursday, July 23, 2009

Question of the Day - MUSIC SUPERVISORS - July 23, 2009



Ann Finnegan asks:

I took your class a couple years ago when I was at LMU and really enjoyed
it. I majored in film but have always loved music. I'm now working for a
songwriter/producer who has asked me to help him get his songs into movies.

I remember you recommended several websites for posting songs to get them
seen by music supervisors. Is there any way you could send me those links or
even suggest other methods to get in touch with music supervisors?

Hartmann responds:

Its an audio/visual universe. High speed digital connections allow a vast amount of material to be infused into the prevailing system that creates, produces and provides music for film and television. The symbiotic relationship between music and film stretches back to the silent movie era, when a live musician sat below the screen and created musical effects in synchronization with the unfolding drama. The best of these were held in high esteem and worked the big houses.

Today, every film and television production team includes a Music Supervisor whose basic job is to accomplish the same thing. They search for, select, secure and synch the music to a film. Their goal is to accomplish the director's vision by commissioning, licensing or purchasing the music he requests. However, budget, producers and studios have considerable influence on the process.

Every major movie studio has a significant music department with vice-presidents, efficient systems, infrastructure, and resident music supervisors. Most productions are covered in house. Although, a considerable amount of the work is farmed out to independant contractors who service a production's musical needs on a project by project basis. Most are listed in various trade publications, and a concerted "Google" search will provide credits and contact inflormation.

With record sales in decline, the income streams generated from synchronization and master use licenses have become vital to record labels and music publishers. Many major telelvision shows include popular music elements on their sound tracks and as on camera, dramatic content.

The process of choosing a song or composition is varied. A one hour TV show might license a half dozen songs, or more, per episode and do the entire thing in a two week compressed schedule. The same job on a film could take months to be accomplished. The director or writer often indicates a specific song in a scene. Most often the music supervisor suggests possibilities based on an analyasis of the script. The director accepts, or suggests alternates until the music cue is licensed.

There is a creative aspect to the music supervisor's job that requires a sensitivity to comedy, drama and storytelling. A comprehensive knowledge of the extant catalog of songs and recorded music is essential. Producers with budget limitations have taken to seeking out new artists willing to license their material cheaper in return for the exposure. Music can be a chacter in the show.

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