The IMC Magazine Issue 7/September, 2015 - Page 32

Expert Music Career Advice for DIY Musicians

A friend of mine and I started a band a few years ago. Think Sufjan Stevens meets Arcade Fire, and you kind of have an idea of what we were shooting for. My friend had spent a lot of time and money getting our album made. We recorded in a nice studio, had the right engineer, and he even got T.W. Walsh, who mixes and masters Sufjan Stevens' albums, to finalize it. But after months of trying to get this album out, we hit a problem: it wasn't catching on, we weren't getting picked up, and our songs weren't ending up on soundtracks for any movies.

With so much music out there for people to listen to, this is a struggle that virtually every unsigned musician and unmanaged artist has had to deal with at some point. So how do you get exposure for your music? One great way is to try to get your songs into the hands and ears of music supervisors.

What is a music supervisor?

Music supervisors are in charge of bringing music into TV and film. When you watch a TV show and the closing song just pairs perfectly with a dramatic scene or when the heroes are walking in slow motion down a hall with a lot of swagger, the music supervisor is the person responsible for getting those songs there.

4 Ways That Getting a Sync License Can Jumpstart Your Music Career

Music supervisors have to get an idea of the mood, energy, and style that would best fit the video, and then try to come up with the best musical options for that scene. Once they figure out what fits, they pre-clear the songs by getting synchronization license contracts with the artists and labels. A sync license is basically an agreement to match the music to the video.

What do music supervisors look for?

Well, you have to put yourself in their shoes and do your research. If there's a program that you really like, do you think your music is similar to the type of music that they place? Do you think your songs would fit?

5 Rules for Not Pissing Off Music Supervisors

For instance, I do music supervising for Roadtrip Nation, a TV documentary series that involves interviews, travel, and the stories of the Roadtrippers. After I meet with the director and the editors to figure out what the musical layout is going to be, these are the four things that I look for to determine whether a song is the right fit.

1. Mood

Each program has its own palate of moods. With Roadtrip Nation, I try to find music from indie artists that makes sense for inspiring youth, introspection, and adventure. Folk, alternative, Americana, and pop all work pretty well for it in a broad sense. It's not a show where we need dramatic taiko drums for voting someone off at tribal council, nor are there attention stings all over the place like you see on a lot of reality or cooking shows.


Music Supervisor Reveals How Songs Make It Into TV and Film

advice from Sonicbids Blog - Written by Mark Batstone