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5 Things Music Supervisors Look For In You & Your Music

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These 5 things are the components of a word I hear over and over again from Supervisors in describing the type of music and artists they are looking for… “sync-able.” Sync-able doesn’t just refer to lyrics and melodies. There is a nuts and bolts element to it as well. Before you can even think about hearing your music in Grey’s Anatomy, you need to check these off the list. Let’s jump in, shall we!

1. Master Quality Recordings

No demos allowed. (Step up onto soapbox) Do demos even exist anymore? Considering how easy and economical it is to record high quality stuff now days, why would anyone limit that recordings’ opportunities by making it a demo. (Step off of soapbox)

If you’re confused about how to define “master quality recordings,” the easiest thing to do is listen to recordings and artists that have been successful in the TV/Film world already. I recommend you go listen to a few friends of mine like Perrin Lamb and Lee Hester. Of course, you can go listen to my stuff as well. We’ve all been lucky to have some successes with placements, and it’s partly because of our high quality product. Some other indie artists that get used a lot are Tim Myers, Katie Herzig, and Matthew Perryman Jones.

2. 100% Ownership

If you’ve got a major pub or record deal, you’re reading the wrong blog. There is a reason why Supervisors use indie artists. Because they don’t have to deal with slow, haggling publishers and record labels.

A lot of times (especially in TV) a Supervisor doesn’t have time to get 5 people to sign off on a license. And they might not have flexibility in a budget to negotiate for 200 more dollars. These are all things that are avoided when a single artist can sign off on a use.

3. General Themed Lyrics

In TV and Film, music compliments the dialogue and visual. As oppose to driving it. With that said, lyrics should be general or metaphorical enough to be interpreted in as many ways as there are viewers. The song should fit into the story that the viewer is seeing. What the viewer is seeing CAN’T be forced to fit the song they are hearing. It doesn’t work like that.

In other words, if you are detailed story teller, then you are going to have a hard time in the TV/Film world.

4. Feel Good and Break Up Style Production

Obviously, there are a million different music needs out there. But, in my experience, a good 80% of the uses fall into two musical production styles. I call them “Feel Good” and “Break Up.”

Feel Goods are uplifting, anthemic, mid-tempos. Usually with positive, universal lyrics. They do exactly what their title says… make you feel good. Think U2 and Coldplay. Here’s an example of a Feel Good. It’s my song, “Not Today,” and it’s been used in Grey’s Anatomy and The Real World.

The other style, Break Ups, are broken down, acoustic or piano, relationship-themed ballads. Here’s another one of my songs as an example. It’s called “Step Outside,” and it’s been used in The Hills.

5. Instrumentals

If you don’t have instrumentals for all of your songs… get them now. Sometimes Music Editors need to work around dialogue. Or, maybe they love a track, but lyrically it doesn’t it work. You want to give them that flexibility. They will love you for it. Not to mention it will give you a ton more opportunities.

All of the things I’ve listed here will make you and your music more sync-able. But, more importantly, it builds a foundation of something that is essential in a relationship with a Supervisor… Trust.


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