What Do Music Supervisors Do

Alyssa OmandacCareer, Overview

When working on a film or TV project, the Music Supervisor oversees the inclusion of music during post-production. They may supervise composers and musicians to create original music for the project or seek to license existing songs and scores.

The main goal of the Music Supervisor is to meet the needs of the Producer and Director. They collaborate to select the right music for the project.

While many people think of Music Supervisors working on films and TV shows, they are employed in many industries. They select the music for advertising, video games, and other visual media platforms.



Music Supervisors

Music Supervisors oversee the selection of all music-related elements for a project, including original and previously recorded songs. They obtain the rights to music and work with musicians to create new songs.

Salary: $56300
Education: Bachelor's degree
Personality: The Artist

What they do

Music Supervisors oversee the selection of all music-related elements for a project, including original and previously recorded songs. They obtain the rights to music and work with musicians to create new songs.

Collaborate with the Director and Producer

Before selecting music, the Music Supervisor needs to work with the Director and Producer to understand the overall tone of the project. For example, a modern hip-hop song may not fit the tone of a historical film set hundreds of years ago.

The Director and Producer explain their creative vision for the project and how they believe the music should help elevate their vision. They may also provide recommendations for specific songs, musical styles, instruments, or moods.

Set a Budget and Select Music for the Project

The Music Supervisor is often given a budget for selecting music for film or TV projects. Depending on the type of project, they may use a combination of original and recorded music.

The selection of music helps set the mood for different scenes. For example, an uplifting song may be used during an inspirational moment of a story. Finding the right songs often requires extensive knowledge of different musical genres, from classical to modern pop.

To determine what music is needed for a project, the Music Supervisor may review the visual media, such as a rough cut of a movie or TV episode. They choose where the music will be inserted to elevate the emotions of the scene.

Obtain the Rights to Recorded Music

When previously recorded music is needed for a project, the Music Supervisor is typically the one responsible for obtaining the rights. They handle communications between the owner of the music and the production company or Producer to secure the rights at a reasonable price.

In some cases, the Music Supervisor enlists the help of a music publishing company or a licensing company. The company recommends songs for the project from their libraries of music, allowing the Music Supervisor to obtain multiple songs from a single source.

Negotiate Contracts for Recorded Music

The Music Supervisor is also responsible for dealing with the negotiations and legal requirements related to music licensing. They may need to arrange royalty collections, which are paid out by various Performance Rights Organizations (PROs), including BMI and ASCAP.

Some music publishers and individual Musical Artists require the approval of music placement. Before agreeing to release the rights to the song, they may want to see where the song will appear and how it will be used to enhance the project.

Arrange the Creation of Original Music

When original music is needed for a project, the Music Supervisor is typically responsible for hiring Composers and Artists. They also coordinate with the Recording Engineers and post-production sound department to facilitate the original recordings.

The Music Supervisor may oversee the recording process and provide creative input on the direction of the original scores.

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What is it like working as one

Pros

Your Choices Impact the Mood of a Film or TV Show

Music Supervisors often get to choose the music for films and TV shows, allowing you to help set the mood and tone.

You Get to Oversee the Creation of Original Music

When a project requires original music, the Music Supervisor is often responsible for hiring the Composer and Musicians, which can be a fun experience.

You May Earn Royalties During the Sale of Soundtrack Albums

Soundtrack albums are becoming less common and less popular, but you may still occasionally work on projects with soundtracks. Music Supervisors earn royalties on soundtracks that they compile.

You May Not Need to Relocate for Each Project

Music Supervisors may be needed during post-production but rarely visit the sets. You do not need to travel to shooting locations or relocate for projects.

Cons

Becoming a Music Supervisor Requires Years of Experience

Becoming a Music Supervisor is not easy. You may spend years working as an Assistant Music Supervisor or Music Coordinator.

You May Not Always Share the Same Ideas with Directors

Directors have the ultimate say in the selection of music for their films, which may not always align with your ideas or suggestions.


Where they work

Film Studios and Production Companies
Theatre Companies
Advertising Companies
Video Game Development Companies


Music Supervisors often work in the entertainment industry, supervising the selection of music for films and television shows. Film studios, production companies, and individual Producers are often responsible for hiring Music Supervisors.

Music Supervisors may also work in the advertising industry, selecting music for commercials and other forms of advertising. Other potential employers include video game development companies, theatre companies, animation studios, and other organizations involved in the production of visual media.

How to become one

Step 1: Pay Attention to the Use of Music in Film

High school students can prepare for careers as Music Supervisors by learning more about this career. Pay attention to the use of music in movies and TV shows.

Step 2: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Music

Earning a Bachelor’s degree is not a requirement for Music Supervisors but it may help you find work and develop useful skills. Some Music Supervisors major in Music History, Music Business Management, and other related fields of study.

Step 3: Look for Entry-Level Work or Apprenticeships

Getting your foot in the door is the hardest part of becoming a Music Supervisor. Look for apprenticeships and entry-level work. For example, you may need to work as an Assistant Music Supervisor to learn the ropes.

Step 4: Look for Music Supervisor Positions on TV Productions

It is getting harder to find Music Supervisor positions in the film industry, forcing many Music Supervisors to find steady employment in the TV industry. There is more TV than ever before, creating more demand for this career.

Should you become one

Music Supervisors need a good memory, as having extensive knowledge of popular and obscure songs can help with the selection of music. Confidence is also essential for Music Supervisors, due to the need to negotiate contracts when obtaining the rights to the music.

Successful Music Supervisors are often artistic individuals with backgrounds in music. You should be creative, open-minded, and able to collaborate on musical projects with other Musicians.

Having good leadership skills is also useful when managing the work of Composers, Musicians, Foley Artists, and other members of the sound department.

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