9 Music Supervisors Sound Off on Getting Your Music into Film & TV
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July 08, 2015

Music Supervisors Sound Off on Getting Your Music into Film/TV

By Rachel Perkins, ASCAP Film & TV Department


Getting your music into film and TV can be a golden ticket for building momentum for your music career. Yet that same momentum is needed to grab the attention of music supervisors -- some of the busiest, most influential players in the industry. We asked our friends at the Guild of Music Supervisors to give us one piece of advice about getting your music into their world of film, TV, advertising, trailers and video games.

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1. Gabe Hilfer Music Supervisor (Black Swan, The Drop, Fury, Sleeping with Other People)

“When submitting music by an unknown act, I find it helpful when people put some bands that they may be compared to. Even though every artist is unique, I am more likely to check something out if I am a big fan of one of the bands they are similar to. Always put as much contact information into the metadata of the songs as possible. Often times we download music, but won’t get a chance to listen to it for weeks or sometimes months. If we love it and it works for a spot we are trying to fill, we need to know how to get in touch with you!”

2. Sean Fernald Music Supervisor (Maggie, Wishmaster, Forever Strong, Rage)

“Get to know the music supervisor. Make an effort. Cold calls never get noticed. It’s important to develop a friendly relationship with the supervisor. Get out and meet them at industry mixers, conferences, panels, movie premieres and screenings. Make sure your music is unique and make yourself real. Like the fox says in The Little Prince, “But if you tame me, then we shall need each other.”

3. Amanda Thomas Music Supervisor at Format Entertainment

“Make sure there are builds and changes in the music; a song should feel like it goes somewhere, even if only the instrumental is used. Always have instrumental versions and stems at the ready (and send them fast if requested!)”

4. Madonna Wade Reed Music Supervisor (American Crime, Reign)

“Make sure your music is appropriate for the project. Speak to friends who do have representation with reputable third party agencies. It’s smart for the artist, it’s smart for the supervisor. Songwriters are entering into legally binding agreements with strangers, so they need to protect themselves. It protects both parties.”

5. Jason Kramer Music Supervisor at Elias Arts, DJ at 89.9 KCRW, Instructor at UCLA

“I look at it a little bit differently. I want music that is familiar to the masses. If you want to get your music into a commercial, you should really consider pushing yourself out there as an artist. You need to have an audience when you pitch to a brand. We have to find stuff that already has a ‘like’ for other people.”

6. Vanessa Jorge Perry Music Supervisor (Aspect Radio, Apollo, Final Destination, Kung Fu Panda 2, Monte Carlo, Spy Kids)

“Make sure your music is awesome...sound quality and all! If you're finding it hard getting your music placed maybe find a third party company or music library that can rep your music.”

7. Cybele Pettus Senior Music Supervisor at Electronic Arts

“Keep it short. Pick one song to send me first and make it your best. It should be new, preferably yet-to-be-released. Take the time to know our company. Familiarize yourself with the kind of music [we use] and how. Include a short (short!) blurb in the body of the e-mail about the artist (country of origin, label affiliation, tour plans, etc). Bottom line: if you make it simple and specific, you make it easier for us to recognize your masterpiece.”

8. Mathieu Schreyer Music Department (Chef, Hotel Noir), DJ at 89.9 KCRW

“Always try to place to songs you love first and foremost. Always seek advice from more experienced supervisors if you can.”

9. John Houlihan Music Supervisor, President of Guild of Music Supervisors

“Don't lead with songs that are centered on specific names or specific year references. Specific city names in a lyric can sometimes limit the licensing potential. It is great to have these songs in your personal catalog, but the media licensing community needs songs that say ‘I love you,’ not songs that say ‘I love you Betty.’ The specificity of names and places can limit our ability to apply the song in a wide variety of scenes. Even if a character is coincidentally named Betty, any use would likely be too ‘on the nose’ to ever put in a scene.”

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Visit the Guild of Music Supervisors online: guildofmusicsupervisors.com

Now that you know how to get your music placed, find out how to make ASCAP royalties from your placements at our Cue Sheet Corner.

Gabe Hilfer

Gabe Hilfer

Sean Fernald

Sean Fernald

Amanda Thomas

Amanda Thomas

Madonna Wade Reed

Madonna Wade Reed

Jason Kramer

Jason Kramer

Vanessa Jorge Perry

Vanessa Jorge Perry

Cybele Pettus

Cybele Pettus

Mathieu Schreyer

Mathieu Schreyer

John Houlihan

John Houlihan