The secret to getting your music placed in film and television?
Don’t piss off Music Supervisors.
I’m joking of course (CALM DOWN)….but we are a deeply close and very passionate community. If you burn one of us, be it a clearance issue or say, a published article, there is a good chance the word will spread, and quickly. It’s honestly one of the things I love most about being a Music Supervisor: we protect our own and we defend our craft.
In the past month or so there have been a couple articles that have incensed this vocal community.
Why have these frustrated Music Supervisors so much? They are based upon a lack of education and incorrect assumptions about what the job of a Music Supervisor actually entails. Not that it’s surprising. The job title has been thrown around so much in the media lately it’s no wonder the general public has a skewed opinion. Very few people – even within the entertainment industry – have any idea what we really do.
I don’t have any incisive responses that haven’t already been covered (with style and sass) by my colleagues. Michael Perlmutter’s response on the Instinct Entertainment website is a must-read. Instead, I wanted to take the opportunity to address several of these major misconceptions about the craft of Music Supervision – some that are perpetuated in these articles, and some that I’ve found working in the field or heard regularly lamented by peers.
Music search. Creative brief. Whatever you call it, artists, pitching companies, labels and publishers all want to find one in their email inbox. Every third cold email from a new company asks to be included on search lists…despite that being somewhat of a fallacy. While most Music Supervisors don’t have one “brief list” that they reach out to for every search, we do have “go to” people for certain genres, budgets, types of artists, etc.
How to first get on the radar is a separate post entirely. But then how do you become one of those trusted sources? How do you get on the proverbial “search list”? This is going to seem like a Catch 22 – but the answer is by really delivering on any searches you do receive.
Fortunately this often has little to do with whether your song is actually selected. Certainly striving to meet the creative need is a part of it, but especially given how hard it can be to hit a target you can’t see, how the music prepared, packaged and sent plays a large role as well.
As with everything I write, I offer the big disclaimer that every Music Supervisor has their own preferences, so read every part of any search email you receive, and make sure to follow any delivery requirements specified. For those new to the pitching game or unsure where to start however, that the below should provide a good foundation of tips to follow (or avoid).
Another fantastic Durango Songwriters Film & TV Expo has passed, full of music (both live and recorded), delicious tacos and hanging out at the firepit into the wee hours.
As mentioned in the recap of my first trip to Ventura last year, it’s one of the few conferences most music supervisors genuinely enjoy and get excited about. After all, what’s not to like about spending the weekend (almost) literally on the beach? On the other side of the table, artists benefit from the fact that, unlike other events where music supervisors flee immediately after their panels, we are all staying in the same hotel for over two days, so there is ample opportunity to form real relationships. This arrangement however, has as much potential to go wrong as it does to go right. For more on navigating and getting the most out of this tricky networking situation check out last year’s post.
This year the idea for what type of follow up artists might find valuable came immediately. While the conference provides good guidelines for attendees, after a few conversations with other music supervisors we came up with a few more specific suggestions to add to help artists get the most out of their Durango experience – or really any conference in which you are presenting music to music supervisors.
Everyone knows music supervisors receive dozens of emails every day from people trying to get their music heard – artists, managers, publishers, labels, third-party pitching companies, publicists, agents, etc. Respectively, we encounter a range of tactics all seeking to achieve the same goal – to convince us to click the link, stream, download, save, file, flag and of course, ultimately place their music.
As you’re likely already aware, there are many factors at play, and in the past I’ve offered advice on the overall pitch email and submission methods. The focus of this article, however, is purely on the words. I wish I could divulge specific keywords to rise to the top of every music supervisor’s inbox…unfortunately these do not exist. Everyone has different preferences, expectations and pet peeves. For better or worse, it’s much simpler to call out some of the wrong approaches to take, especially since there are some cringe-worthy phrases that show up in emails again and again. After polling a handful of music supervisors responsible for overseeing the music in many of the top films and television shows out right now, here are some of the most common phrases that make us all wince:
This past weekend was the very first Guild of Music Supervisors State of Music in Media Conference. Many of the most influential players in the media music community shared their knowledge and experience with students, aspiring music supervisors and peers across 24 panels, presentations and sessions. Topics ranged from an overview of the job, to getting hired, to creative strategy and communication, an in depth look at music clearance, metadata practices, marketing the music and more.
We involved in the the planning could not have been happier with the turnout – both the number of and the enthusiasm and support from the attendees. I had many discussions with panelists and presenters about how unusually intelligent the questions were.
Still though, there were a few…frustrating situations that arose. As with any conference where music supervisors are present, regardless of the content or goals, there was a faction who just viewed the event as an opportunity to put music in the hands of those with power.