How To Get Your Songs Heard By The Film Industry
The Nashville Film Festival, which recently took up residence at the Green Hills Regal Cinemas, was enriched with foreign films, documentaries, and music business panels alike.
Music Supervisors 101: The Basics Of Song Placement was led by film industry supervisors Andrea von Foerster (500 Days Of Summer), Alethia Austin (The Cursed, Grassroots), Jon Ernst (The Hills, Laguna Beach), Chris Mollere (Kyle XY, The Vampire Diaries), Marcy Bulkeley (Inception, The Hangover and its sequel) and Richard Glasser (Blue Valentine, King’s Speech, Motion Picture Music/Weinstein Co.) The event was moderated by Jim Scherer, President of Whizbang Inc.
What is music supervision?
“I think it’s something that changes all the time”, says Chris Mollere. Essentially, it is someone who combines music with audiovisual entertainment, or an individual that manages a team of music directors working on a given project.
This general definition, though, does not quite fulfill the diverse role that the music supervisor tends to, or the ever-changing film industry that the supervisor works in. Much like the music industry, the film industry is in the midst of reinvention, with the music supervisors positioned exhilaratingly close to the front lines.
How do you find your music?
When asked how music supervisors find their music, the panel seemed to be excited and timid in equal measure, as if the key to their success was about to be exposed or courageously introduced to the public. Jim spoke first, saying “I send out a music search”, while Marcy went a bit further in depth, “I go to production companies, and love to find young composers who want to get in on it.” Alethia Austin, supervisor for The Cursed replied, “[I prefer] Indie artists. I like to look to them to be our music supervisors. [Indie artists] have the opportunity to set the tone and mood for a project. We like to be appealed to. I also like to receive physical copies when I’m being pitched to.”
The mention of physical copies rallied a kind of discussion on which was actually better: physical copies or an emailed Mp3. Some said it was nice to have an actual CD sitting on your desk, one that is easily stowed away and retrieved at the right time. While others, less convinced of the material clutter, stuck to the ways of the Internet, giving others the advice to post tracks on file-sharing websites.
Richard Glasser, with prolific experience, then returned to the question of where he finds his music and said, “I look for undiscovered artists. It’s also nice when an album cover fulfills that genre. Songwriters, pay attention to your album covers! That helps music supervisors.”
What are some other things songwriters should know when sending songs to you?
Marcy Bulkeley: “Include your instrumentals!”
Andrea Von Foerster: “Include info in links.”
Alethia Austin: “Give us a description of the music. It can be as simple as telling us the feel, sound, mood, etc. We remember that.”
Jon Ernst: “Don’t fade out music. Hard in, hard out.”
Richard Glasser: “Songwriters, get in with editors!”
These short quips of wisdom also led to a “What not to send” list.
What not to send:
Tagless music, mysterious writers, vague contracts, head shots, big press kits, single MP3s in each email, lack of clearance, unknown percentage of ownership, and duplicate emails were the general consensus.
As a final invitation for Nashville’s songwriters to jump on the bandwagon, Jim asked, “What’s the best entrance for songwriters into the music industry?”
“Film festivals are the absolute best places for songwriters to be. You’re meeting composers, up and coming directors, editors, and producers. That is critical. And as a rule of thumb, get songs in early,” said Richard Glasser.