Being A Music Supervisor: 3 Solid Questions You Should Be Asking Yourself

Amazon. Netflix. Apple TV.  Thanks to the pandemic, industry revenue is forecast to grow by 30.6% in 2020-21. In other words, music synchronisation is generating high-margin income and breaking emerging artists. But music monetising is a fierce game, and to win big, music supervisors shouldn’t be afraid to lose a few times.

How do I deal with Disappointment?

Music supervisors are not impartial to silence either. Sometimes it takes time for your demo to reach the right person. That’s no reason to feel discouraged. Other times, the higher-ups might not think your proposed music is a good fit for the job, even if you do.

While it would be great to get constructive criticism, it’s equally as important not to take it personally if you don’t get a response. Companies have a lot to do and extraordinarily little time, so providing individual feedback tends to be difficult.

In either case, it is no reason to stall. Even after having received a reply (or while waiting for one), make sure not to stay stuck: keep building your profile by performing, pursue press coverage, keep your press pack updated, and stay on top of your social media presence.

Low Funds
Do what you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life (but you’ll probably have to live off cup noodles for a while).

Being a music supervisor is not one of the most well-paid jobs. There, we said it. With that in mind,  supporting yourself through any music industry area requires a lot of hard work and patience. The best way to go about it, if you want to pursue your dreams, is to “make peace with your bank balance and manage your costs wisely.” 

Royalty Issues
According to our friends over at MasterClass, “[being a music supervisor] is all about knowing the legal ins and outs of licensing music, including who gets royalties, who owns creative rights to particular songs, which songs are essentially unattainable, and which songs are in the public domain.”

We’ve devoted an entire blog to this topic, so check it out if you want the detailed rundown.

And if you don’t, the general gist is that this is a complex area, and you are not alone if you don’t understand it. Do your research, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

“Even if things don’t go as planned, remember to be polite and gracious with everyone, as you may need their help in the future.” – Heather Mcdonald

Quality of Music: What about my demos?

We’ve spoken about this on numerous occasions, and it’s important to keep emphasising this. Although it may seem obvious, it’s common for publishers, sync agencies, labels etc., to receive very low-quality demos.

When we talk about music deals, demos are meant to be sample recordings – rough cuts before the diamond is polished.

But you’re reading this blog because you want your songs (or the artists in your roster) to be placed on a TV series, movie, advert.

This makes it different.

Most of the time, music supervisors need song to be ready for placement, and the turnaround must be fast, so a good mix and master are obvious things to get right before pitching. Nobody gets syncs on rough demos.  Remember also to include instrumental and stems, so they can potentially edit dialogue around that.

If you do everything you can to make a music supervisor’s job easier, your efforts will go a long way.

Licencing: How much does it all cost?

Making a living with music is not just about the art: you must get the business side of your art together. “Master ownership and publishing splits and any sample issues or approvals should be tied up far in advance of sending your music to supervisors.”

So, how much to charge? Well, the truth is that an artist’s influence can sometimes affect the process.

Although loads of production companies are happy to get emerging artists on their soundtracks (mainly because their licenses tend to be cheaper), there is an unwritten rule: the more influential the artist is, the more chances they have to get those syncs.

In a world dominated by anything digital, the internet is crucial to the music industry and the people who work within it. Not just because of the fame and glory, but the justifiable amount of green you can charge for your work.

Getting your playlists noticed, choosing the right platform, organising live streams and joining artist communities can all boost your presence in the music world, beginning locally.

“Having a label or publisher who’s pitching your music to supervisors can be a huge help, but it’s not necessary. If you’re an unsigned artist, reach out to sync companies like RumblefishAudiosocket, and TAXI,” says Matt Williams.

music supervisors

Being a music supervisor entails more than just knowing about music and having the ability to “feel” the right song. It’s very business and law-oriented,  but you can earn your stripes if you play to your strengths.

If you want to hear from the experts themselves, we’ve got a great podcast with multiple supervisors and sync professionals. Check it out!