So much MUSIC ……so little time. How a Music Sup listens Music. Part 1

I have been “busier than a one arm paper hanger” lately wearing my MUSIC SUPERVISOR hat.  Each job is so vastly different, and the needs and styles of the music change as the job moves forward, but it is my job to move with the flow of the job wether it is a slow moving creek or white water rapids.

So it got me to thinking that I should let you guys in on how a Music Sup really listens to music. It’s not the same as how you listen to music as a consumer.

I would say that about 50% of the music I hear is sent to me, the other 50% I seek out myself. From up and comers, to legacy catalog and everything in between. But HOW does a Music Sup keep up with it all?


I don’t think anyone takes time to imagine what is it like to manage a 300,000 plus track catalog…..and that is only a fraction of what I am sent and what I actually work with!

I interact with music in two distinct ways……general listening….and specific listening.

First, let me talk about GENERAL LISTENING.

I take time every week to see what’s new out there, and despite the fact that I get hundreds of emails a week – a good portion of what is new out there never reaches me unless I look for it. I use an RSS reader to keep up with music blogs, writers and playlists at great college radio stations across the country like KCRW. I also get music handed to me – at shows, or recommended to me by a friend (my favorite way to get music….more on this later).

I listen for a few key things in a song (now remember, I am only talking about ads here)

- does it “go somewhere” – an by this I mean does it take me on a journey or is it a bunch of sameness

- positivity or quirkiness without a negative or uncertain emotion (minor keys and chords tend to evoke negative emotions – no good for ads, but can be great for film & tv)

- lyrics that are very general in theme – the chorus could be applies  to a multitude of situations

So if I hear something I like….THEN I open it in iTunes. This is when I rely on the owners of the track to supply me with some basic metadata on the track (Label, Publisher, contact info)….but I also ADD my own rating and categories to help me find it in my system when I do a search.

I also keep a number of folders in my iTunes like, LOVE, EMPOWERMENT, or HOLIDAY, VALENTINES DAY, AUTOMOTIVE  that I will add tracks to. These are general themes that I see over and over so it makes sense for me to file the song in different ways to make it easy to find when the right job appears.

I also have a litany of filters that I use; Reps, Labels, Publishers, KCRW, college radio, but I also invest a good portion of my time to research, which is where I become a consumer of music with just a more specific ear.

My point is this; as an artist trying to get your music licensed, don’t forget that the more bandwidth you have in massive stream of music consumption, the greater chance that I will find you.

As  non-touring musician who is dedicated soley to making music for sync licensing, then you need to reach out to Music Sups directly. Getting a fancy website and hits on MySpace – it’s just not important. Save your money and use Soundcloud or I love those programs (as most Music Sups do) and prefer them over an individual website.

The last item to remember about how we listen to music is this; YOU MUST HOOK US. Many of the musicians that I talk to and the students in the GYML Workshops get hung up on trying to send what is “right” for a specific ad or show that a Music Sup might be working on. Know this: IT”S BETTER TO BE GOOD THEN RIGHT. There is simply not way for you as an outsider to know what would be right – so don’t guess. Just send us your very best track and make your email short and clever. If you show me in 10 seconds of a song that you have great taste in music and can create a track that is engaging, then you have me at hello.


8 Responses to “So much MUSIC ……so little time. How a Music Sup listens Music. Part 1”

  1. DC Cardwell August 18, 2011 at 9:05 am #

    Really useful, interesting and relevant information as usual, Sarah. Thanks for being one who gives to the music community as well as receiving!

    • admin August 18, 2011 at 9:36 am #

      Thanks DC – I enjoy it…glad it’s helping you

  2. Vince Smith August 18, 2011 at 9:09 am #

    you keep talking about that email address… can I get that so I can send you some music? I would love to get some of my instrumentals and songs licensed for whatever. Thanks!

    • admin August 18, 2011 at 9:35 am #

      If you google me you will find it ;)

  3. Aliza Juliette August 18, 2011 at 9:28 am #

    Thanks Sarah, super helpful as always! Any suggestions for tagging in soundcloud, does it help you?

  4. Mike Schmid August 20, 2011 at 1:31 pm #

    Very helpful. Thanks Sarah. (Just checked out – awesome).

  5. Licensor August 21, 2011 at 10:04 am #

    Hi Sarah. Where can we see your past work? Do you have a reel? I’m really interested in checking out the types of projects you’ve worked on and what music you chose. Thanks.

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