Job · October 25, 2022

How To Get A Job As A Musician

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A music supervisor is responsible for fitting properly written music to scenes in a film or television show.

How To Get A Job As A Musician

How To Get A Job As A Musician

No one says a word in the opening sequence of The Sopranos, but you’d never think of watching it with the sound off.

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It’s not that the landscapes of industrial and working-class New Jersey are particularly exciting. It’s the song mobster Tony Soprano plays as he walks through them — Alabama 3’s “Woke Up This Morning,” a haunting, bluesy number about loss and broken promise — makes the sequence tense and menacing, ultimately hinting at violence. erupts on the screen.

In a film or television show, the crew member responsible for coordinating properly recorded music with scenes is called a music supervisor. Most projects also have a composer managing the score of the music written for them. The music supervisor and composer, along with other top creatives on the project, decide which scenes will record the songs, the original score, or both.

However, the creative aspect is only part of a music director’s job. Supervisors must also make sure the play has permission to use the music being played, whether it’s a full song or a snippet heard in the background as a character walks through the room.

They also have to contend with last-minute changes and tight deadlines. Oh, and yes, they have to try to please the many people who have opinions about what songs should be played when – producers, showrunners, directors, editors, writers.

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“Anybody who works on a film knows two things,” says music supervisor George Drakoulias. “They know how to do their thing and they know what the music is supposed to be – because everybody has a visceral reaction to the music.”

To find out what kinds of people become music supervisors and how they get those jobs, The Times spoke with Drakoulias and six other current and former music supervisors — Gary Calamar, Thomas Golubić, Jen Malone, Morgan Rhodes, Robin Urdang and Dan Carlin. as well as Dan Koplowitz and Danny Benair, two “sync agents” who try to place their clients’ songs in movies, TV shows, commercials and video games. Here’s what they had to say.

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How To Get A Job As A Musician

One thing most of the professionals interviewed have in common is a history in or around the music industry. It reflects a common, deep-rooted love of music.

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The Drakoulias are still producing records. Calamar, Golubić and Rodos are current or former DJs at KCRW-FM. Malone was a publicist for garage rock bands in Boston. Urdang worked in the vocal group Manhattan Transfer. Koplowitz ran a record label. Benair played drums for indie bands including Quick and Three O’Clock.

But when asked what interests or skills qualify a person for the job, they began to talk about a number of more practical qualities that characterize a music director.

They are highly organized, detail-oriented, and have the ability to handle multiple streams of information as they work on multiple projects simultaneously.

They are diplomatic, good at reading the room and building consensus because the songs should work for the people telling the story, not for them. Urdang half-jokingly put it this way: “You have to have a minor or major in psychology because it’s very political. You must be able to read, you must be able to relate to many personalities.”

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Remember that a music controller can’t dictate a show’s soundtrack like a Spotify playlist. “It’s not our job to pick songs,” Malone said. “Our job is to provide options with the creative direction of the showmen in mind.”

The process “can be kind of heartbreaking,” Calamar said. “Sometimes I’ll come up with a song that I think is so perfect, and I can’t believe I got it. And they will say: “That is very good. What else did you get?”

They love to research because they are called upon to offer songs from a diverse landscape of times, genres, and regions. They may also like to be ahead of the curve and discover lesser-known gems. “For me, that’s the most exciting part,” Rhodes said. “And looking for the song is sometimes more fun than finding it.”

How To Get A Job As A Musician

They’re also a detective because they have to track down songwriters, usually represented by music publishers, and recording artists (or their record labels) who own the copyrights to the songs their project wants to use. Older tracks may belong to defunct rights holders. Newer tracks may include samples or snippets of earlier recordings, and each piece should be cleaned up as well.

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For help in this area, supervisors can draw on the expertise of people representing large groups of copyright owners, such as Koplowitz and Benair. “What we and the music supervisors do is a deeply symbiotic relationship,” Koplowitz said.

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They are good at negotiating and understanding contracts because they have a lot of money to spend on licensing. “The rights holder can say no for any reason,” said Koplowitz, who runs Friendly Fire Licensing. “The reason doesn’t have to be good. They may say no because they don’t have enough money. They can say no because it doesn’t look good to them.”

There are many different ways a song can be used in a project, and there’s no price list — “It’s all negotiable,” Calamar said. Barbie Clothes Career Outfit Doll, Musician Look With Guitar, Multicolor

Generally, the bigger the artist and the more prominent the use, the higher the fee will be.

For example, Drakoulias said, you might have a small music budget for a movie now, but the director really wants to use a Rolling Stones song. So you have to think creatively about what you can offer as compensation. “First, you go to the Rolling Stones [and ask], ‘How would you like to have a piece of the heartbreaking indie coming-of-age drama of your songs?’

They are also good at helping people translate their musical ideas into words. “Sometimes principals need someone to explain what they heard or didn’t hear,” Drakoulias said. “If someone says, ‘I want more purple,’ you should be able to understand what that means.”

How To Get A Job As A Musician

And finally, they remain calm under the pressure of production deadlines, as songs can flop at the last minute and they have to scramble to replace them.

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Yes, having good taste in music matters, the pros said, but taste is subjective. More important is knowing many different types of music, being familiar with labels and music publishers, and keeping an open mind. Besides, as Malone says, “You can have the best taste in music in the whole world, but if you can’t clean those songs, you can’t use them.”

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The good news is that there are so many hours of TV shows and movies being made these days that the demand for music control is huge.

You have several options to develop the necessary skills. Some colleges and film schools offer music supervision classes taught by people active in the field (Malone, for example, took a class at UCLA Extension taught by Golubić). It’s a way to learn key aspects of the business and build relationships.

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Another way is to intern for a studio or label executive working with music supervisors or supervisors. Some internships are available through college film programs, where you’ll earn credit toward a degree but no pay. Others are offered by independent supervisors who want to train the next generation and could use some help.

“When people work for me, it’s a hands-on job. They see and learn,” Urdang said. “I want them to learn. I want the next group of music supervisors to succeed.”

One way to hear about experiences Calamar, Golubić and Urdang raise the profile of the profession, improve collaboration, honor exceptional work, and join or volunteer at the “Guild of Music Supervisors.” opportunity,” said Golubic. The guild offers DIY training materials and networking opportunities, which are a good way to find supervisors looking for help.

How To Get A Job As A Musician

The guild is also trying to help diversify the profession, launching a mentorship program last year, though it has yet to announce a new round of openings. He also holds events in East Los Angeles and South L.A., Golubić said, promoting the profession to people.

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