What is Music Supervision?

Published July 29, 2022

Movies, television, video games, and advertisements all use music to provide the audience with a memorable experience. To ensure the audience receives the best experience, the music will need to be carefully and strategically chosen by someone who has knowledge of music placement, music licensing, and the overall importance that music plays in the production.

What is a Music Supervisor?

A music supervisor is the leader of the music department in a production. A music supervisor will have many roles and responsibilities; often, delegating the duties to various members of the music supervision team.

A music supervisor will manage all aspects of the production that involve music. This includes musical credits, music licensing, cue sheet maintenance and tracking, and many more responsibilities.

The Responsibilities of a Music Supervisor

Meet with Directors and Producers

A music supervisor will need to meet with the directors and producers to better understand their ideas and visions of the production. During these meetings, the music supervisor will offer their professional opinion and expertise on how music will contribute to the experience they are entrusted with directing and producing, as well as what will be possible with the production’s music budget.

Review the Visual Media

The music supervisor will review the visual media and combine it with the director, creative team, and producer's vision to help determine what music will go best with the visual media.

When reviewing the visual media, the music supervisor will help determine what type of music should be added at the opening credits, during the most emotional scenes, and during the closing credits. Choosing the right music is key.

Determine All Costs and Licensing

A music supervisor must possess a network of musical talent, including artists, record labels, music publishers, and more to negotiate and secure music works between the hired talent and the production team. The music supervisor may choose pre-existing music or hire talent to create new songs or scores for the production.

A music supervisor must know the laws and regulations that come along with using musical elements in film and television production. This includes costs, music licensing, and royalties related to the music used in the visual media.

Distribute the Royalties

Royalties are an important part of the music supervisor’s roles and responsibilities. Royalties will need to be tracked accordingly so they can be distributed correctly. Cue sheets are used to track all of the songs played in the production.

The music supervisor will maintain the cue sheets to ensure that the writers’ and publishers’ royalties are distributed accordingly. Royalties are important because they are a payment to the artist or company that has provided the musical elements, so they will need to be correctly tracked and paid.

The Skills, Qualities, and Qualifications Needed to Become a Music Supervisor

A music supervisor should be knowledgeable, organized, and personable. Because so many meetings will need to occur between production teams, directors, musical talent, and synch reps, a music supervisor will need strong people skills to ensure that negotiations, contracts, and deals are successful.

Perhaps the most important qualification that a music supervisor should have is knowledge of music history and the music industry. This includes different types of music and different musical, and cultural backgrounds. This will ensure the music supervisor can help choose the music that most fits the production.

That's a Wrap!

A music supervisor plays a vital role in the overall success of a television or film production along with the director and producer. Not only does the best music supervision company have to know the musical history and cultural backgrounds, but they will also have to know how to determine costs, contracts, and royalties associated with the music that is chosen.