The Life of a Music Supervisor

Music supervisors capture emotion and create atmosphere in visual productions.

Music supervisors capture emotion and create atmosphere in visual productions.

Movies, television and video magic happen when music and visual images combine to create an emotional response or set a mood. This purposeful pairing of sensory mediums is the work of music supervisors, who use skill, knowledge, creativity and business savvy to enhance our viewing experiences. Whether you are interested in pursuing a career in the field or are merely curious, a glimpse into the working life of a music supervisor will deepen your knowledge and appreciation.

Script Reading and Spotting

At the start of a project, your typical day as a music supervisor begins with script reading and "spotting" -- noting scene segments where music is likely to be added. Spotting may be initially included by the screenwriter as part of the original script or added by the director, producer or music supervisor. Meetings with production personnel follow the spotting session, where ideas are shared and collaborated until a musical theme and stylistic direction is agreed upon.

Music Selection and Research

Song selection and research into the music's procurement and cost is your next task. Procurement of music can be done by purchasing previously recorded song licenses -- called "synch" or synchronization licenses -- from music publishers, or songwriters and musicians can be hired to write and record original music. If music from a specific period is needed, you'll need to perform research into musical styles and popular songs of the day to maintain historical accuracy and continuity.

Presentation For Approval

When all songs and costs are in order, you will meet with key production personnel for final approval. Song samples may be required, costs may be adjusted and changes to music may be requested, so you'll need to back-up your presentation with sound reasoning and be flexible when changes are ordered.

Synchronization and Production

The final project phase involves synchronization and production. You will work with a sound and video engineer, director and others while songs are played and targeted visuals are viewed with software. Music is edited -- cut into segments, stretched or condensed for run time -- and is integrated with the visual master. Final mixing and processing adjusts volume and sound quality. Your music supervisory project is now ready for screening and final overall tweaks before release or broadcast.

 

About the Author

Matt McKay began his writing career in 1999, writing training programs and articles for a national corporation. His work has appeared in various online publications and materials for private companies. McKay has experience in entrepreneurship, corporate training, human resources, technology and the music business.

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