For those new to the term — you never know! — a music supervisor is responsible for combining music and visual media. They’re in charge of overseeing all the musical related aspects involving visual platforms. For example, a particular TV show, film, advert or video game. They tend to obtain the most control when it comes to finalising the decisions on what goes on in the final visual media platform. They’re also the main go-between for TV producers, directors and the actual composers / songwriters. They’re able to take cues from directors and assign that to a composer, who will be able to take the scores of that original piece and create unique compositions written specifically for a particular scene, for example.
As such, music supervisors are bombarded by producers, managers, publishing companies or even fans asking for their music to be placed. This can be a daunting as well as overwhelming experience, making most music supervisors highly selective in what type of submissions they choose to take or even listen to. So how do you break the ice? Try this…
When it comes to being heard, you must remember to do your research, to do your research and — oh yeah — to do more research. If a film or TV show is looking for fun, uplifting reggae songs, sending them slow contemporary pop songs won’t do the trick, and the supervisor will shut you out as a trusted source. It’s important that you know who you are pitching to and what shows or films they have coming up.
Keep yourself updated by following their websites/social media accounts, as they may update or highlight their work there. If you plan on sending them an email, include an eye-catching subject line. For example, if they’re working on a new “Fast & Furious” film, you may mention something along the lines of “Fast & Furious 8” or mention a film they’ve done in the past. This will show you’ve done your research, you know a bit about them and there’s something worth reading further in the body of the text.
2. Watch the basics
Avoid attaching mp3 files to the email as your message is likely to end up in the trash can. Provide quick ways for the supervisor to listen to your music without it having to be downloaded — think Soundcloud, or similar — then you’re good to go. Make sure the quality of your songs and productions are of the highest standard and have instrumental versions of your songs ready at hand. I’d also suggest including a link to the instrumentals directly below the song you’re pitching.
It also helps to have a set of stems (simply a broken down set of separate channels for each recording) and ideally acapella tracks (if you’re pitching a song with vocals) quickly available for the music supervisor. This is because producers, editors and directors, once interested, require the flexibility to edit the song to fit a specific cue in the media.
3. Mood, energy and style
Yes you read right, when music supervisors are A&R-ing songs to place on a show/or film, they’re taking into consideration the type of feeling they want to convey through their story. This is often subjective to the supervisor, but they generally look for songs they feel will amplify the aim of their story. The song must also convey the right energy and style. Being genre-appropriate (which links with doing research) will help you stand out from the rest of the emails they receive.
The benefits of getting your music placed in TV/film/advertising is exposure, sync licensing royalties and bespoke music payments. As a creator of music, getting your track on a particular ad can boost your single sales and increase your fan base, not to mention open up the doors for future sync placements.
4. Just get started
There’s so much to do and so little time. Luckily there are a number of platforms out there to help you save time, eradicate legwork and streamline the way you’re working.
Music Gateway (disclaimer: my company!) is a B2B platform designed to connect creative music industry professionals together in a global capacity. Countless sync briefs are posted on the site daily, by clients including Redbull, Notting Hill, Metropolis, Kobalt and more. It also includes a playlist feature linked to your account, which allows you to submit tracks in a professional way that’s tailored for supervisors to review. You’ll be able to track their feedback on songs of yours they’re interested in to get a feel of what they like.
Music Dealers help create new campaigns for independent and emerging artists around the world, while connecting music-seekers with the best songs and artists to enhance their work. Music Dealers combines the world’s largest, hand-selected catalogue of pre-cleared, independent music with an amazing team of music and technology professionals to offer an unprecedented list of music-related services.
Diverse Music Solutions: although different from the first two, Diverse Music Solutions is a non-profit, social enterprise launched by musicians specifically to help unsigned and emerging artists with long-term music-related advice, ideas and answers. Any extra profit made from syncs goes to a charity for young people, so your music is also put to a good cause!
This is the first in a series of posts from Midem partner Music Gateway. More soon!
Top photo: from Midem’s Global Sync Summit, where music pros can pitch directly to music supervisors. More info on 2016’s Summit here