Reel Opportunities

Music Supervisor

What is a Music Supervisor?
What does a Music Supervisor do?

Music Supervisors are a key creative voice in film and television post-production. They will watch the rough cut of the film or television show in what is called a “spotting” session, where they will write notes about where music is needed. They research the right songs and music to complement the scenes’ story and tone. They make suggestions and confer with the Director over the right choices for the project.

Once the music has been selected, Music Supervisors will then research the rights holders and contact them to gain the rights and licenses for the use of the music. They sometimes have to negotiate the price of some songs since they can be very expensive. Once the rights are obtained the Music Supervisor will keep track of the rights and make sure the royalties and credits are distributed properly using “cue cards” in the end credits.

What's a Music Supervisor good at?
  • Knowledge and passion for Music and Music History

    Music Supervisors have to have a vast knowledge of the music landscape as well as the history of music. This helps them have a good idea of what songs should be used for certain scenes

  • Rights and License knowledge

    Music Supervisors need to know the copyright laws and the different rights and licenses needed in Canada to acquire a song

  • Knowledge of film-making

    Be able to understand the production process, particularly the post-production sound process

  • Communication

    Be able to work with multiple people on the production and communicate your music ideas to the Director. You will also need to speak to a number of different song rights holders and negotiate with them

  • Organization

    Work within the sound budget, keep clear notes on the music suggestions for the film and keep records of all the royalties and credits of the songs

Who does a Music Supervisor work with?

Director
The Director is the one whose creative vision everyone is helping to execute. They have an overall look and feel they want for the film. They want to convey the story in a certain way and need the help of a lot of people to accomplish it. Directors are good leaders and visionaries being able to convey their ideas to the entire crew.

Sound Designer
Sound Designers are most commonly involved in the performing and editing of previously composed or recorded audio, such as sound effects and dialogue, but it can also involve creating sounds from scratch through synthesizers or other instruments. They add and create the soundscape for the film since not all of the sound you hear in movies is recorded on set.

Editor
The Editor watches all of the recorded footage, selecting which takes to use and then using digital editing software to assemble that footage into a completed feature film. They must analyze every shot (which sometimes means hundreds of hours of footage), meticulously selecting the takes that will achieve the desired emotional and thematic impact of a film.

How do I become a Music Supervisor?

Music Supervisors should have some experience in the music industry or music-related fields. Then you need to develop contacts in the film and TV drama industry to get experience working on film sets. Look into becoming a part of a post-production sound team on smaller productions and providing your knowledge of music.

More tips

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Professional Organizations Associated With This Role

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Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.