If music is the food of love, music supervisors are the matchmakers! During video production, a supervisor coordinates all musical elements of the film, ensuring that the score is legally, aesthetically, and financially appropriate. Hiring the right freelance music supervisor is thus essential to successful sound design.
What to look for
As with many artistic endeavors, the only way to learn effective music supervision is by doing; you should thus look for experienced candidates.
A supervisor should have extensive knowledge of copyright law.
An Innovative Intellect
Music supervision is a creative task, so look for someone who is innovative and artistic in all they do.
Know what you need
Although specific supervision needs vary by film, virtually all music supervisors must be able to:
A supervisor must be able to come up with a variety of songs to score each scene, giving you options as the film develops
Your supervisor will be in charge of your music budget, and must ensure you have enough money to buy all the songs you need.
A successful music supervisor will be able to negotiate down the price of copyrighted songs.
Questions to ask a potential candidate
What types or genres of music have you worked with?
Ideally, you want a supervisor with an extensive background in the types of music you want to include, but also with experience in other genres.
What artists or labels have you worked with in the past?
Given that a supervisor must negotiate licensing agreements, the more professionals they know in the music industry, the easier it will be for them to get you the songs you want. This includes not just knowing the people who own the rights to your desired songs, but also lawyers, performance agents, and anyone else who might play a role in the licensing process.
What budgets have your past projects had?
Look for a freelance music supervisor who has worked on projects with a variety of different budgets. This will show that they can make do with a small budget, but also know how to negotiate for more elaborate, expensive endeavors.
Have you ever worked on a film with live music?
The best supervisors go beyond incorporating existing songs into a film and can actually coordinate the production of live music on-set. Even if you don’t intend to include live music in your video, a candidate with live music experience will be more versatile and better at incorporating sounds under a wide range of conditions.
Have you ever had a major disagreement with a director? If so, how did you handle it?
Music supervisors represent an important check on the power of directors. As such, they should be willing to challenge you in a respectful but firm way. The more willing they’ve been to do that for previous projects, the more likely they are to do it for you.