Dos and Don’ts: How To Contact Music Supervisors
Output Dec 06, 2017
If you’re an artist who’s trying to win the ear of music supervisors for film and tv, here are the 10 best and worst practices.
Are you an artist curious about how to contact music supervisors? Music supervisors are the music-to-picture gatekeepers, responsible for selecting the tracks and closing the deals between artists and productions.
If you’re trying to win the ear of music supervisors for film and TV, here are the 10 best and worst practices from industry pros Ramsay Adams, Dave Hnatiuk, and David Weiss, the trio behind Music Supervision 101 and authors of Music Supervision: The Complete Guide to Selecting Music for Movies, TV, Games & New Media.
1. Do your research
Music supervisors will often narrow down their focus to a handful of publishing companies, agents, and labels that they know and trust. This helps them get deals done quickly and efficiently.
Before contacting a music supervisor, make sure you know their work. You can use a music supervisor directory (like the Guild of Music Supervisors).
Blindly sending “listen to my music!” emails is a waste of their time and yours. Just like your music has its own sound, many music supervisors have their own brand and distinctive credits. If you’re sending cold emails to music supervisors, you’ll have a better chance if they have a track record of placing music that’s in the same vein as your work.
2. Take advantage of the subject line
Demonstrate that you studied up on each supervisor with an intelligently-crafted subject line in your initial email. If your brand of EDM is perfect for a particular Netflix series, differentiate your email or social media intro with a title like: “Techno for vampire zombie nightclub scenes.” The music supervisor on the receiving end will appreciate that you’re paying attention.
3. Make music that’s authentically yours
Music supervisors looking for songs typically want music that’s real and will resonate with the audience. If your music comes from the heart, your odds for success will greatly improve.
Likewise, writing a song about tires, for the sole purpose of placing it in a Goodyear commercial, probably won’t get you very far.
4. Have a unique presentation
Established music supervisors receive countless pitches from musicians, music libraries, managers, and A&R reps. Often it’s an email with a generic heading, boilerplate copy, and a link to a YouTube video or a SoundCloud file. They may also receive a manila envelope with a thumb drive and a forgettable cover letter.
These emails and envelopes mostly go unopened and are usually trashed.
Try something different to get attention. Send a box of donuts. Write a unique or personal email header. Anything that sets you apart will increase your chances of getting them to open the email or envelope and give it a listen.
5. Be polite and persistent
There’s a fine line between being politely persistent and coming across as annoying. A general rule is to attempt to contact music supervisors three times, maximum.
- Send an email or an envelope
- Attempt to reach out to ask if they received it
- Ask whether they have a use for your music
If you’re polite and persistent and you don’t land a deal right away, the music supervisor might keep you in mind for future projects. It’s a small world, after all. No need to burn bridges.
6. Don’t hit up music supervisors who don’t want to be contacted
Music supervisors like Thomas Golubic (Better Call Saul, Breaking Bad, and The Walking Dead) would love to hear your music, but be sure to check if they have a policy. Most professionals don’t have time for unsolicited submissions. The issue isn’t just about listening to your music, it’s also being sure that a song is something they can clear easily.
7. Don’t cold-call music supervisors on the phone
While there’s an essence of bravado and self-confidence evident in cold calling, it’s a bit of a red flag. Do you like calls out of the blue? If music supervisors have multiple ongoing projects, they may be managing dozens of active contacts. They also might be waiting for an important call.
Find another way to make that first contact via social media, email, attending an event, or — and this is the best way — building an audience that’s passionate about your music. That way, the music supervisors may come to you.
8. Don’t send attachments in a cold email
Attaching music files to an initial email is a rookie mistake. A big attachment might get your email jettisoned into a spam folder before your target music supervisor even has the chance to see it.
Send a link to your track, or better yet, simply introduce yourself and ask them if they’d be interested in receiving a link to your music. If they say “yes,” then you’ve started a dialogue. Make sure to always link to a WAV file instead of an MP3.
9. Don’t submit music that isn’t exactly within the requested genre or style
If you have received a creative brief or song style request from a music supervisor, make sure you give them what they asked for. Nothing is more frustrating when they’re looking for one thing and receive something that’s the wrong genre, tempo, or has vocals when they wanted an instrumental.
10. Don’t sell yourself as a “jack of all trades”
No one is great at everything. Put your ego aside, and market yourself based on your strengths. Any time a composer or producer introduces themselves as a master of all genres, the red flag of warning immediately goes up.
Any experienced music supervisor looking for songs knows that the best of any genre comes from those who specialize in those genres. Stick to what you’re great at and offer your services with that style first and foremost. If you prove yourself on a first project, who knows what else will follow.
Check out this interview with Matt FX (Broad City) to learn more about how to contact music supervisors and getting your tracks into the right person’s hands.
If you're sending your music out, submit your three best songs that you want to showcase, and lead with your strongest ones. I don't recommend submitting multiple albums because too many songs create a lot of clutter, and your hits get lost. Music supervisors won't have time to listen to a whole album.What are music supervisors looking for? ›
A skilled music supervisor might choose the perfect song to enhance a dramatic television moment, help an advertising producer make smart, inspired music choices, or find a cost-effective workaround when a film's plot requires a particularly expensive, hard-to-license recording.Do music supervisors get royalties? ›
Sometimes, Music Supervisors continue receiving payments through soundtrack royalties. Even if working in an agency or company, their salary could be tied to the annual earnings of the company and their output.Who is responsible for finding music for production teams? ›
The music supervisor is the head of the music department on a film or television show, and they select and license music for the production. Most music supervisors work as freelancers on a project basis, but others can be employed by a production company or a music-supervision company.How do you message a music supervisor? ›
- Send an email or an envelope.
- Attempt to reach out to ask if they received it.
- Ask whether they have a use for your music.
Keep your playlist updated with fresh tracks, and generally don't create playlists with more than 300 tracks because that's about 24 hours of music, which is already a lot.What are the five rules of a supervisor? ›
- Know your people. ...
- Give plenty of feedback. ...
- Never ignore non-performance. ...
- Praise workers who do what's expected of them. ...
- Remember the work atmosphere.
The supervisor's overall role is to communicate organizational needs, oversee employees' performance, provide guidance, support, identify development needs, and manage the reciprocal relationship between staff and the organization so that each is successful.How much is a music supervisor fee? ›
How Much Does A Music Supervisor Cost? Music supervisors typically charge flat fees for their work. The amount of money they earn is usually based on the size of project budgets. For small TV projects, it could be in the $0 – $10,000 range whereas for big projects it could be up to $500,000.How do music supervisors find songs? ›
They start the search with the songs they have tagged and filed on their computers - searching keywords such as 'home', 'female' and 'singer-songwriter'. They find several songs that fit, which were songs sent to them by an artist manager, indie label and an artist they saw at a local show 12 months ago.
While there is no set typical payment or commission rate for a manager, most managers earn anywhere from 10-25% of the artist's total income, typically the rate is between 15-20%.Who has the most important role in a production team? ›
The producer develops the project from the initial idea, makes sure the script is finalized, arranges the financing and manages the production team that makes the film. The producer also coordinates the filmmaking process to ensure that everyone involved in the project is working on schedule and on budget.How do I get my music heard by producers? ›
- Write a Great Bio. First things first: make sure your brand is properly and professionally represented online. ...
- Prepare Your Tunes. Remember about producing and delivering good quality. ...
- Do Your Research. Do Your Research. ...
- Be Relevant. ...
- Think Like a Label. ...
- Send it Out!
According to Golubić, an assistant music supervisor provides support while gaining experience and learning the ropes. A music coordinator is capable of performing many of the supervisor's functions, he said, but isn't ready to lead the conversations about the choices being made.How do I contact a music manager? ›
- 1) Network and Form Relationships with People in the Industry.
- 2) Attend Music Industry Conventions.
- 3) Look Up Online.
- 4) Use Spotify, LinkedIn and Other Social Media Platforms.
- 5) Play at Live Shows and Festivals.
- 6) Get Yourself and Your Music Noticed.
- As Much Information As Possible, In As Few Words.
- Tell People What You Want.
- Never Be Afraid To Tell People What's Going On.
- Don't Do Annoying Things.
- Don't Be Afraid To Follow Up.
- Be Nice.
You can either look their name up on other platforms (such as Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter) or try to find their official website. For example, many independent Spotify playlist curators in the music industry have a personal blog that has a separate page for contact information.How much of a song can you legally play? ›
Unfortunately, there are no fixed standards as to how much of a song you can use without infringing the song owner's copyright. Of course, the shorter you can make the clip, the stronger your argument for fair use protection.How many songs is a 3 hour set? ›
How Many Songs Should You Pick? A good rule of thumb is 15 songs per hour. A typical wedding reception will see about 3 hours of dancing after dinner and all the formalities are over. That is just 45 songs.What makes a successful playlist? ›
We found that variety in the playlist, specifically, variety in albums and genres make playlist successful.
Get together four of your best, most polished demo tracks
Label folks are overworked/underpaid and will probably only flip through a couple tracks anyway, so just send FOUR songs max. If they like those, they'll ask for more.
First, you will need about 20 songs an hour. For a 4 hour party that is 80 songs, maybe 100 to be on the safe side or to have a few extra in case the party goes a little long. It's not a lot of songs and usually people have the problem of what to cut out as opposed to finding enough songs.How many songs do I need for a 3 hour set? ›
How Many Songs Should You Pick? A good rule of thumb is 15 songs per hour. A typical wedding reception will see about 3 hours of dancing after dinner and all the formalities are over. That is just 45 songs.How do I get my music heard by a record label? ›
- Write a couple of songs.
- Create nice social media accounts.
- Write a perfect email for sending to the record label.
- Attach the demo of your song to the email.
- Wait for the response.
Getting a record label to pay attention to you as an up-and-coming musician is extremely difficult, no matter who you are or what kind of music you create.Do labels own your music? ›
The copyright of the Sound Recording is generally owned by the artist or record label that they are signed to. Whoever owns the master recordings will earn royalties when the song is played or reproduced (including radio, streaming, downloads).How many songs do you need for a first gig? ›
Before you jump up on the first stage that'll have you, make sure you have enough songs to fill a set. Most support slots need you to be able to play for at least 30 minutes, so as a rough guide, you're going to need around five or six songs that you can play to a decent level.How long do professionals take to mix a song? ›
How long does it take to mix a song? Mixing one song usually lasts not less than 4 hours, and can take up to several days. The more complicated the project, the greater the time. However, for an experienced mix engineer, 1 working day should be enough to mix even a large project.How many hours a day should I make music? ›
Try to spend one hour per day focused on music production. If you find it exceptionally hard to do this, start even smaller (15 or 30 minutes).