A panel of music supervisors gave a peek into how they choose music for the projects they’re working on at the THR/Billboard Film and TV Music Conference in Los Angeles. In addition to offering advice on what not to do when submitting music, the panelists critiqued snippets of music submitted by conference attendees who are trying to break into film/TV music. Here are some dos and don’ts for submitting music to supervisors.
– When sifting through the music he receives daily, EA Worldwide executive of music Steve Schnur divides the submissions into piles based on importance. I’ll separate it based on things I’m never going to listen to, Schnur said, noting that submissions from people he has relationships gets placed into a pile he’ll likely listen to. Usually those come with a note or a letter, and my assistant pulls those out separately. Submissions with interesting artwork are likely to get noticed over those without, he noted. Music supervisor Frankie Pine said that and CD submissions with handwriting goes into the garbage.
– It may seem like a no-brainer, but many songwriters don’t leave contact information on music submissions. Those who don’t usually get their music tossed, the panel agreed. While searching in the submission box for music to critique, Pine chose an album by a group whose CD didn’t have contact information on it. I wouldn’t listen to that one, she said. It doesn’t get a listen if it doesn’t have contact information. Because if I liked it, what would I do? I’d have to research it and I don’t have time for that. Picture Tunes Music’s Nora Felder suggested that artists invest in plastic jewel cases and include the name of the act on the spine. For those of us that do continue to use CDs, you want us to be able to see that on the shelf when we’re looking for something, she said. Paul Glass, supervising music director of “One Life To Live,” suggested, “When you put the metadata into your CDs, if you could have contact information in one of the fields, it’s really amazing. So if I’m going through an iTunes list and I’m looking for something specific, it makes things a lot easier.”
– Most music supervisors prefer digital submissions of music. So if possible, send e-mail with links, streams or MP3s. “One of the supervisors that works for me loves CDs. But I hate them,” Schnur said. “I don’t want to deal with it. I deal with YouSendIt or MP3s. Love it.” Glasser noted that 80% of the music he receives via e-mail contains links to an artist’s music. Play-Tone Company’s Deva Anderson added, “In my office we do digital-only, so we don’t accept any CDs anymore. It’s a lot easier if you have a website to let us know what site it is.” Felder said she accepts CD submissions, but asks songwriters to “please write neatly so I can read it. If you don’t have money for stickets, take a wide piece of masking tape an write the information and stick it right on the CD. Make it as neat of a presentations as possible.”
– Most music supervisors don’t have time to listen to a whole album, so always circle or note which tracks you’d like the music supervisor to listen to first. “When you’re making an album, obviously you’re not going to sequence it thinking of, “Oh God, I need that song that’s going to get on a TV show”, up front,” Schnur said. “Thus, you really need to call out on that packaging if you have something specific in mind. Because if not, we’re going to go to the first track, and you’re out.” Felder added, “There are many times when I’ll listen to a whole CD and frankly I won’t like most of the songs on the CD. Then one song will be the winner. So definitely try to indicate which song you think is right for the project.”
– Songwriters should be aware of the projects music supervisors are working on and tailor their submissions to specific films of television shows. “When submitting, it’s really easy to Google anyone here on stage and find out what they’re working on,” Deva Anderson said. “Be familiar with what those shows are and what kind of music they use.” Pine added, “If you really feel like track seven was your strong track, circle it, say why you’re submitting it for this particular project, this one is the one I think would be really great for “Californication,” because I’ve watched the show and know what kind of music they have. Just don’t submit songs for the sake of submitting a song to somebody, because it wastes a lot of our time and unfortunately that tends to leave a bad taste in our mouths.”