What does a music supervisor do?

Music supervisors can help you choose music and sound that can enhance a movie.

A music supervisor is a person who works with a variety of media productions to select and license all the music needed for an individual production or a group of productions. Music supervisors may work on films, television shows, musical theater, video games, commercials, or any other production that requires the use of music. The term music supervisor can also refer to a single person charged with supervising the work of a group of music directors, each assigned to a different production. This definition is seen most often in musical theater.

Music supervisors can supervise singers recording in a studio.

The job of a music supervisor requires a number of skills as well as specialized knowledge. The music for a movie, television show or commercial should be carefully chosen to reflect and enhance the mood and story of the individual production. Appropriate music selection can mean the difference between a scene that resonates powerfully with the audience and one that falls apart. This part of a music supervisor’s job is highly creative and requires a certain artistic sensitivity.

In contrast, the other part of a music supervisor’s job involves working with various licensing companies to secure permission to use specific music in productions. The music supervisor must know which licensing entity to contact for a particular piece of music, as well as how much that piece will cost to produce. In some cases, music supervisors limited by a production’s budget cannot afford the licensing fees for their first choice of music and must make different choices.

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Music supervisors may work for a movie studio, an advertising agency, or any other company that requires music to be selected and licensed for use in a production. A television music supervisor may work on specific television shows, local news, or even with a specific network’s promotional department. Overall, the job of a television music supervisor is similar to that of a film music supervisor who usually works for a movie studio and is assigned multiple projects. Some music supervision professionals recommend working for a movie studio as a good starting point for this career.

Depending on the type of production and how the work is organized, a music supervisor may work closely with those responsible for sound design. Sound design addresses all sounds in a production that are not music, such as sound effects or vocals. Working in conjunction with sound design, music supervisors can increase the impact of both the music and sound of a dramatic production.

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