Looking at the Overview & History of Music Supervision!

Is this the ONLY way to break a band, artists, and musicians in today’s music industry?

Photo by The New York Public Library on Unsplash

In this first of a two-part blog, we look at the overview, history, and in the second part, we take a look at the Do’s and Don’ts on how to approach a music supervisor and a music consultant.


A music supervisor is a person who combines music and visual media together.

According to The Guild of Music Supervisors, a music supervisor is “a qualified professional who oversees all music-related aspects of film, television, advertising, video games, and other existing or emerging visual media platforms.”

In the musical theatre industry, a music supervisor is often responsible for managing a team of music directors working on any number of musical productions at any one time.

A music supervisor is a person with music expertise with sophisticated knowledge of music licensing and many negotiation techniques!

Although typically, a music supervisor proposes previously recorded songs to the director or producer of a film, advertisement, television show, trailer, promo, video game, or any other form of visual media.

A music supervisor will usually act as a liaison between the creative and business ends of the whole process.

Once a song has been approved, they approach the rights holders of that song to seek permission to license (which creates master recording licenses and synchronization licenses) and to work out the financial details of the song’s use across all media.

In many instances, the artist or songwriter of the recorded song is given the opportunity to accept or decline the synchronization of their song(s)

This position is most active within media-based industries, including live events, television, film, advertising & video gaming.

Music supervisors can work within production companies, film studios, networks, music supervision companies, or even do freelance work, which seems to be commonplace today.

Photo by Elizeu Dias on Unsplash

History of Music supervision

Originally, music was used in silent films to hide mechanical noises within a theatre, like a projector. Often a musician would be present to play improvised or pre-selected pieces along with the visual images on the screen.

This led to the establishment of the soundtrack, and an emphasis on accompanying silent visual media with music.

Over time, films began hiring composers to create instrumental soundtracks to accompany films.

It became apparent to studios that when a movie included a hit song, more people were likely to see it, and because of that, more people were likely to purchase the song and album from the artist and band.

The demand for music supervisors in the production process became solid in the 80s and has continued to grow with the increase of popularity for soundtracks ever since.

While the use of songs not originally composed for the film did not save money, licensing a song made for a better understanding for the director and producer of the film, for what music was going to be used in that scene.

This led to an emerging need for selecting and licensing songs, which is how the position of the music supervisor has developed over time.

Taking advantage of the musical component has become a HUGE marketing strategy for these media outlets, placing a growing responsibility on the music supervisor/consultant — to deliver!

Over the past decade, synchronization licensing has become one of the most significant ways for an artist, band, and songwriter to gain positive exposure.

Building a relationship with a music supervisor can give an artist/band and songwriter the opportunity to spread their music on a platform that would expose them to a much larger audience.

Just to give you an idea — One of the most notable synchronization collaborations was Moby’s 1999 album ‘Play’, which was the first-ever album to have all tracks linked to a synchronization license.

The job of a music supervisor has become increasingly significant, and the importance of this crucial position continues to grow and grow.

In the next blog, we take a look at — The Do’s and Don’ts on how to contact Music supervisors and music consultants!

By Peter Moore




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Peter Moore

Peter Moore

Peter has lived New York, Los Angeles and London working in the music, film and TV industries for over three decades helping creators realize their vision.

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