So you wanna become a music supervisor/sound designer ?

I have bad the pleasure to work with talented Music Supervisors at Soundtrack Your Brand. But what is the role of a Music Supervisor and how do they work?

First of all according to Wikipedia a  music supervisor is a person who combines music and visual media.


According to The Guild of Music Supervisors:  WHAT IS A MUSIC SUPERVISOR?

Definition/Role of Music Supervisor

A qualified professional who oversees all music related aspects of film, television, advertising, video games and any other existing or emerging visual media platforms as required.

In addition: The Music Supervisor must possess a comprehensive knowledge of how music impacts the visual medium. The Music Supervisor works with the key decision makers and/or designated creative team to collectively determine the musical vision, tone and style that best suits the project. The Music Supervisor provides professional quality service that combines creative, technical and management expertise with relevant proven experience. This specialized combination of diversified knowledge and unique skills is integrated into all stages of development, pre-production, production, post-production, delivery and strategic marketing of the project with regard to all music related elements.


Music Supervisor Responsibilities include but are not limited to:

1.  Identify, secure, and collaborate with any and all music related talent, which includes composers, songwriters, recording artists, on-camera performers, musicians, orchestrators, arrangers, copyists, contractors, music producers, engineers, etc.: liaise and negotiate with talent representation, including legal, label, talent management, agency, business management, etc.

2.  Liaise and effectively communicate with other related and involved professionals & support staff, i.e. directorial, production, editorial, sound (production & post), camera, choreography, studio & network executives, advertising agencies, clients, label executives, game designers, distributors and cross-promotional marketing partners.

3.  Possess an accurate knowledge of all costs associated with delivery of music elements. Determine and advise on financial needs of project and generate realistic budget with respect to all music related costs. Deliver all required music elements within the established budgetary parameters.

4.  Advise on feasibility of schedule based on release, broadcast, campaign or product delivery. Deliver all music elements consistent with specific technical requirements. Manage and/or secure legal rights of new and existing recordings, clearances of Synchronization and Master use licenses of pre-existing music, credits, cue sheets, etc. within scheduling parameters.

5.  Determine the viability of, creation of and securing exposure or distribution of any music related ancillary product, i.e. soundtrack, single, video, internet downloads, etc. for the purpose of promotion or additional revenue streams.


Become a Music Supervisor: Education and Career Roadmap

Career Requirements
Degree Level Bachelor’s degree; master’s/doctorate for career advancement in teaching
Degree Field Music business and management
Experience Prior musical experience with instruments or singing; participation in choirs, musicals, or community events.
Key Skills Aural skills, attention to detail, picking appropriate music, maintaining contacts, understanding budgets
Salary (2014) $48,180 per year (Median salary for music directors and composers)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*Net Online.

Step 1: Develop Musical Abilities

Because music supervisors should be able to recognize when a composition is good or fitting with a particular form of media, they need to have some prior experience with music. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), musicians and composers begin to develop musical abilities at an early age ( They learn to play instruments or sing in order to develop aural skills. They also participate in choirs, musicals, or community events in order to receive some background in the field.

Step 2: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

Aspiring music supervisors need to receive a bachelor’s degree in order to be technically competent in both the musical and business aspects of this profession. Some relevant bachelor’s degree programs focus on music business and management. These programs provide business-related coursework in marketing, accounting, music publishing, music development, and ethics. They also provide core music classes in aural skills, tonal harmony, and conducting.

Step 3: Get Internship and Work Experience

Internships are beneficial for those looking to gain hands-on experience in picking appropriate music, finding contacts, clearing songs owned by companies or writers, and understanding how to stay within the budgets of a project. Because of the multimedia nature of the job, those wanting to work as music supervisors should intern for record, film, TV, radio, or video game companies.

Some conservatories are connected with these companies, and undergrad students are a part of a mentoring program with more experienced music supervisors. Music supervisors also want to work in academia, but they will have to pursue graduate-level degree programs.

In 2012, Berklee College of Music published a survey of music industry workers. The survey indicated music supervisors are paid on a per-project basis, and payments vary by type of project. For example, the survey data showed music supervisors who worked on television projects earned up to $5,000 per project, while music supervisors who worked on blockbuster feature films earned between $150,000 to $500,000 per film.

Step 4: Consider a Master’s or Doctoral Degree for Career Advancement

Music supervisors interested in teaching should pursue a master’s degree. Some appropriate programs are those concentrating on music business and offer coursework in business, music industry, entertainment industry, marketing, and graduate-level seminars.

According to the BLS, many universities and conservatories require professors to have a Ph.D. degree. One example of a degree program is in music technology. This program provides advanced coursework in music theory, composition, scoring, and statistics. These programs require students to complete dissertations addressing issues in music. Students also need to complete teaching requirements. In May 2014, the BLS reported that postsecondary art, drama and music teachers earned a median annual salary of $64,300.


Top schools to study to Music Supervisor/Sound designer 

Berklee School of Music (USA) – Music Supervisor (Film, TV, Video Games)

UCLA Extension  (USA) – Music Supervision

Music Supervision 101 (USA) –  Music Supervision Mastery: Learn the Secrets of Synch Licensing Music to Movies, TV, Commercials, & Video Games

Northeastern University (USA) – Music Management 

Point Blank music School  (USA) – BA (Hons) Degree – in Music Business Management

Macromedia University of Applied Sciences (Germany) – Bachelor of Arts in Music Management.

London College of Creative Media (United Kingdom) – BA (Hons) Music Business Management

London College of Creative Media (United Kingdom) – BA Music Business Management with Foundation Year

Academy of Music & Sound Online (United Kingdom) – Online BA (Hons) Music & Sound Top-Up ( Fast track for industry professionals )

SAE Institute Berlin  (Germany) – Bachelor in Music Business

Leeds Beckett University (United Kingdom) – BA (Hons) Music Industries Management

Microfusa (Spain) – Bachelor of Arts in Popular Music Production

IED – Istituto Europeo di Design Milan (Italy) -B.A. In Sound Design

Leeds College of Music (United Kingdom)- BA Music Business

The Institute Of Contemporary Music Performance (United Kingdom) – BA Music Business

University of Kent – Centre for Music and Audio Technology (United Kingdom) – BA Music Business and Production

The Academy of Contemporary Music (United Kingdom) – BA in Music Industry Practice: Producer