What is a Music Supervisor?

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  • Written By: D. Messmer
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 06 December 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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A music supervisor, often called a music director or music coordinator, is responsible for selecting and licensing music that appears in visual media. It is a job that requires creative and logistical skills, since the music supervisor must identify the role that music will play in a project and then know how to acquire the rights to that music. They play a crucial role in the movie industry, but are also important to almost any visual media. Their importance blossomed in the 1950s due to the rise of television shows and commercials. Since then they have also played a role in the development of video games, web content, and other forms of new media.

The key artistic role of a music supervisor involves identifying when music is necessary in a piece of visual media and then selecting the appropriate music. This process requires a thorough knowledge of the role of a musical score, since she must identify the moments when the visual image would benefit from musical emphasis. The music supervisor must also be aware of the need for music in the background of a scene. If, in a movie for instance, the characters entered a bar, it would be the job of the music supervisor to choose the music that would be playing at that bar.


The other part of a musical supervisor's job involves a variety of logistical concerns. Once she has selected music for a project, the musical supervisor must acquire the licenses to any non-original music. This involves contacting the owner of the music's rights and negotiating the fee for its use. She is also often in charge of hiring and overseeing the score composer, and works closely with that composer to ensure that the original music that he produces fits the aims of the project. When working on movies, the music supervisor is responsible for negotiating with the artists on the soundtrack and often plays a crucial role in promoting that soundtrack upon the film's release.

Since music often plays a crucial role in movies, music supervisors are very important to the movie industry. Score composers, songwriters, record producers, and musical performers often try to build relationships with music supervisors since they are able to provide these musicians with work and exposure. Music supervisors are also a vital part of the television and advertising industries since these forms of visual media often employ music extensively. The increase of video on the Internet has also increased the demand for skilled music supervisors for larger web-based projects.



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