Catch The Moon Panel: What does a “normal” day look like for a music supervisor and how to pitch music to them?

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I always love being on panels. Every speaking engagement is different and touches on different subjects. For Catch The Moon, one topic that was brought up was “what does our everyday look like and how to pitch to us”. 

Honestly, every day and every project is different. Some days you will find me with headphones on, deep diving into music to find tunes to enhance the story, watching cuts, reading scripts , or working with the music editor, showrunner, producer, etc. On other days, I am the excel queen doing clearances/research, licensing, cue sheets, budget reports, or other important administrative duties.  In short, there is no stock answer. 

The next question was: “how to pitch to music supervisors.” There are two types of pitches: reactive and proactive. Each supervisor has a certain way they like music pitched to them. My personal preference and advise is as follows:

Reactive pitches (responding to a music search or brief): 

READ the search and follow the supervisors instructions. If there is a reference song, listen to the song. Don’t just listen to the first 20 seconds or skip around. LISTEN TO THE ENTIRE SONG. What is the song about? Mood, tempo, instrumentation, lyrics, builds, genre, etc. What project is this for? If there is a scene description, make sure you digest it. Check that the songs you are pitching fit in the budget and rights requested as well.

Turnaround time is very important. Don’t wait till the deadline, best to send back ASAP. On the other side, things might change so faster options are sent, the better. 

Know your co-publishers and label partners. It is important to know if a song will clear in a certain budget. I know there is no guarantee and a request will be sent to all parties if we would like to pursue the song, but it’s important to know if it would clear within our budget to begin with. 

In addition to clearance history, it is important to know ‘has this song been licensed?’ Maybe your share is a quick clearance but another rights holder piece takes more time. Please let me know if there are any road bumps on the song. Having all the facts does not hinder me from coming to you, it makes you one of my top people to come to if you are buttoned up 😊

METADATA in the song is A MUST. Make sure the song title, artist, YOUR CONTACT INFORMATION, company information, writers, splits, label contact information (if it’s not a major or it is split), and other key information are in the metadata. If a song does not have Metadata, I delete it. 

Please only send your TOP strong choices. Remember, I am reaching out to other partners so please only send your top choices. No more than 8-10 (max). If you only have one, great, send it! If you don’t have anything that fits the brief, it’s ok.

The files I need are the main MP3 as well as the instrumental. If you have them on hand, please include the WAVs or AIF in another folder within the link. If a music editor requests them, I have them on hand. A placement can be lost if this asset is not turned around quickly.

DO NOT send song attachments in an email. Please only send a link. My personal favorite is DISCO and Box is my number two. Please put the link in the brief email I sent you with the company name in the title of the email and the names of the songs with artist in the body of the email. That is a great place to put notes, start listening at x, any clearance notes, anything you want me to know. 

Confidentially is important. Do not forward any briefs you are sent via email or talked about on the phone around to anyone, that includes writers, producers and managers.  There is confidential information in there even if you think it’s not that descriptive. We could get fired if something leaks. Forwarding around a search can get you removed from my list.

Last point, please do not follow-up or ask for feedback. I appreciate you want to work together in a stronger capacity but there are a lot of great panels and events where you can talk to music supervisors and ask for feedback or advice.  

Proactive pitches (sending out music that is tailored to the supervisor/projects, samplers, newsletters – proactively marketing music) : 

Every supervisor has a different option and way they like music sent to them so my option is NOT the rule. ALWAYS MAKE SURE THERE IS METADATA on the songs. 

Music supervisors get a ton of music. For me, I file everything. I listen to music based on what projects I am working on. If I have a project where I need Indie Rock, then I will be listening to the Indie Rock that comes in before Hip Hop. If something works, I will reach out for sure. 

I actually love newsletters and what is going on in the music world. It keeps me in the know not just creatively but also business wise. I have been working on something and thought oh, I saw an email for x person and they have the rights to this artist. I have reached out that way. You never know what projects music supervisors will pick up so it is always good to keep us in the know. I do try to listen to everything but it takes time. 

If you are sending a sampler for a show that has been released, please check with the supervisor on how they want things. For me, please listen to the music in the show’s past season(s). There is a sonic thread in there.  I do send out emails asking for a pre-season load up on tunes aka more than 8-10 songs. Once you send your samplers or a targeted blast, DO NOT FOLLOW-UP. I know it’s hard, you want feedback. I get it but be patient. We are not ignoring you.

 At the end of the day, we’re always looking for great music that helps to elevate the story of the creative with some great partners that make our lives easier. 

Madelynn Elyse