music supervision

TuneCore Interview Follow Up Part I: 4 Benefits To Using Independent Artists (When Possible)

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Photo from an upcoming Sessions At The Steps…Stay tuned!

Last month I had the great pleasure of chatting with Kevin from TuneCore about how I fell into music supervision, my favorite projects and more. The result of that conversation appeared on the internet early this month.

Read the full article here.

While I am grateful for the opportunity to talk (my favorite activity!) and generally pleased with how the final product turned out, I think everyone can identify with the experience of finishing a conversation and thinking, “Argh, I should have said this instead!” or “Oh that would have been a way better way to explain that”. Full disclosure, they were kind enough to let me edit the interview, but as an occasional interviewer myself, I attempted to keep at least some representation of the actual conversation, despite temptations to just re-write my more inarticulate moments.

In particular, there were two questions I wanted to clarify and/or expand upon. Initially I intended for this to be one post, but then the words started flowing and I took it as a sign to split it into two.

This week addresses some of the benefits of placing music by independent artists, when they can save a music supervisor’s life (and how to avoid complicating it).
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Spotlight on the 5th Annual Guild of Music Supervisors Awards Winners (and Nominees!)

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Last week the film, TV, trailer, and advertising music communities celebrated the 5th Annual Guild Of Music Supervisors Awards, honoring brilliant work in the craft across all disciplines

Both Variety and Billboard, published recaps of the event, which featured performances by Laura Welsh, Mat Kearney and Kevin Ross, and special guest presenters like Moby, Stuart Murdoch (Belle & Sebastian), Ester Dean (Pitch Perfect), Gavin Rossdale and more, all of whom seemed to rather get a kick out of the whole thing.

My personal assessment is that it was an amazing and inspiring experience to be surrounded by so many peers, friends and mentors. A nice reminder of what an amazing community I stumbled into, and how lucky I am to work, struggle and create alongside these people every day. To be able to call myself a “music supervisor”. And the lamb lollipops were on point.
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12 Myths and Misunderstandings About Clearing Music

Toga CatI want to get this out of the way first. Music clearance is a fluid process, highly dependent on negotiation and relationships. Very little of what I am about to tell you is true 100% of the time.

That said, I’ve worked on a wide range of projects and often come across misconceptions that are 95% false and detrimental to the creative process. A few come up so frequently that I’m convinced there is someone going around to film schools and production companies actively spreading the same incorrect information.

As a filmmaker, an educated approach to music clearance will produce results beyond ensuring you don’t inadvertently cripple your film with an improperly cleared song (which is of course very important). Demonstrating patience and understanding of the process will also give you a greater chance of obtaining your “dream” soundtrack…both in current and future projects.
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Have You Been Pitch Slapped Yet? : The Complete List of Songs in Pitch Perfect

“What helps offset the predictable in this very predictable movie is a series of show-stopping numbers, so props to the folks who oversaw music and choreography.” – Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times Film Critic

Full disclosure to anyone reading this, I myself helped out on this film for just under half of the process; my boss is one of those “folks who oversaw music.”

It doesn’t take a member of the music industry, though, to appreciate how much work went into the musical aspects of Pitch Perfect.  Julia Michels and Julianne Jordan were the executive music producers of the film – responsible for working with the director on music selection, overseeing all the a cappella arrangements, music clearance, both pre-recording and vocal sessions during post-production, facilitating the creation of the three recorded mashups in the film, playing vital roles in the creation of the soundtrack and so much more.
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3 Reasons You Can’t Use That Song (a Friendly FYI for Directors and Producers)

Among all the skills necessary for a music supervisor to master, perhaps the most difficult is how to be an ally to everyone. No two collaborators are the same. Different taste. Different agendas. Different levels of tech savviness. The list goes on. Producers, Studio Executives, Music Editors, Editors, family friends, spouses…I’ve seen all of these folks be called in to submit their opinions on song selection at one time or another. Of course, the most important person to please on the creative team is the director. The director needs to feel taken care of, confident that you are doing everything in your power to serve their vision and make their precious baby come to life exactly how they’d like (which I don’t mean in a derogatory way – I’m sure any director will agree to the film/baby analogy).

But it’s not just those making the film or television show that a music supervisor has to attend to. Even when there are zero dollars in the budget to bargain with, labels and publishers also need to feel appreciated and valued. To know that you are always fighting to get their artists paid what they are worth. It’s their job to support their artists, and to do so they need you to support them. For a music supervisor, problems arise when these two core desires (to complete the director’s vision and ability to pay artists a good/fair price) come into direct conflict.

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