music licensing

4 Major Misconceptions About Music Supervision

screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-2-41-43-pm
Just a few of the panels and presentations from the Guild of Music Supervisors State of Music in Media Conference earlier this month.

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.

TV and Film Music Supervisors Are Killing Real Songwriting (LA Weekly)

War Dogs, Suicide Squad and The Lost Art of The Movie Soundtrack (Flavorwire)

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.
(more…)

10 Tips for How To Nail A Music Search

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset
Try to check as many boxes as possible before sending songs out the door…

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).
(more…)

Durango Songwriters Film & TV Expo 2016 / 9 Tips for Presenting Your Music to Music Supervisors

Music with a view – Ventura, CA

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.
(more…)

10 Phrases That Make Music Supervisors Cringe (From Those Pitching Music)

Nope Chuck TestaEveryone 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:
(more…)

David Letterman Accidentally Teaches a Lesson in Music Licensing

Music supervisors love it when the outside world references the less “sexy” side of the craft. The parts of our job that are not just breaking bands and making mixtapes for directors. This clip from David Letterman a week or so ago made the rounds on Facebook, and it hits on several major misconceptions about placing music in media. You may have seen me point them out on Facebook, but I thought it would be good to do so here as well:


(more…)