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Breaking Into The Film/Tv Music Markets - by Peter Spellman
State of the Market:

Composition for film and TV has evolved in recent years. Where one composer used to be responsible for all the musical elements in a film, these have now been divided so that each part of the collaborative effort can place greater focus on its unique element. The "soundtrack" and the "score" now fall under two separate departments and a new creative music executive has evolved to fill the vacuum and carrry some of the load that was once completely the composer's. Enter the "Music Supervisor."
The Music Supervisor has come to be the person responsible for all the musical elements -- technical, creative, and administrative -- that are exclusive of the score and its production. As described by music supervisor Mark Roswell, ("Sleeping with the Enemy", "Wild at Heart" ), "We provide a service to the director to find source songs that are right for the film. To do this we follow the same instinct -- creativity -- as the composer, but with an entirely different execution."

Another music supervisor, Barbara Jordan, says there are many more opportunities for beginners writing these generic background songs for movies than in getting songs cut by top recording artists. "For consideration by a Dolly Parton or a Whitney Houston, you need to have a song that is nearly perfect because you're competing with top-notch songwriters for a limited number of cuts. But there are many more opportunities for placement of songs in film and TV, and it's not as critical that these songs be 'perfect.' They just have to set the right mood."

Breaking In:

* Don't make a move until you understand the publishing intricasies of film/tv music: "synchronization rights", "performance rights", "blanket rights", "public domain rights", "master uswe license", etc...

Recommended reading: "This Business of Television", chapter 33, "Music" by Howard Blumenthal and Oliver R. Goodenough (Billboard Books, 19991); "Kohn on Music Licensing", 2nd ed. by Al & Bob Kohn (Aspen Law & Business, 1996); and "On the Track: A Guide to Contemporary Film Scoring", Chapter 27 "The Business" by Fred Karlin & Rayburn Wright (Schirmer Books, 1990).

* As with everything in music, business is driven by relationships. So first, think of all the people you know or know of, even remotely connected to the film and TV industries.

* Start networking with these people: this means reaching out with polite, purposeful letters, emails, faxes and phone calls. Ask questions, read online and offline, and respond.

* Have your presentation (message, business identity, demo tapes, etc.) ready for the asking. TV and film producers need both songs and instrumental music.

* Source these people. How? Where? An excellent directory is "The Film/TV Music Guide," published by SRS Publishing (800-377-7411). Here you'll find full contact information on Music Supervisors, Music Publishers specializing in film and tv placement, and record label personnel involved in the same.

You can also get leads by asking around the industry, reading the trades ("Hollywood Reporter", "Variety" and "Billboard", for sure), and watching the credits at the end of a TV program or film.

* Always present yourself as someone with something of great value to the prospect. You or your artist is the gifted source of music, they (hopefully) are the gifted source of business and marketing. The combined result of this should be profit for all and, ideally, long-term alliance.

Peter Spellman, Director
Turning Music Business Data into Useful Knowledge.
Career-building books, articles, consulting, seminars, and more.
Author of "The Self Promoting Musician: Strategies for Independent Music Success" (Berklee Press).

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