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It’s the music supervisor’s job to keep all these competing interestssatisfied and to ensure a happy ending. So good music supervisors are worththeir weight in gold (maybe platinum). They call on their relationships topull favors and smooth out difficult situations, getting music into picturesthat couldn’t be there any other way. Music supervisors are in a sense“marriage brokers.” They creatively marry music and films, which is no easyprocess, as well as marry the two industries on a business level (which is evenmore difficult).
Unfortunately, because the film industry went into distress and thenumber of films being produced dropped radically, the number of musicsupervisor jobs shrank as well. There was a double whammy: there aren’tvery many films with a big enough music budget to afford a supervisor, anda lot of this work went in-house (meaning studio employees now do thework) because it’s cheaper. But there are still music-intensive films that havesupervisors, even smaller budget ones, and television shows with heavymusic (likeEmpire) use them regularly.The supervisors that are working, however, still get paid nicely. Hownicely?FEES AND ROYALTIESMusicsupervisorscangetfeesof$25,000to$100,000perpicture(sometimes even more). The top supervisors also have royalties on thesoundtrack album, usually in the range of 1% to 2% non-pro-rated. Theremay also be escalations of .25% or .5% at 500,000 and 1,000,000 units.These royalties are payable prospectively after recoupment of all costs, at thesame time the film studio recoups.In addition, there may be box-office bonuses based on the picture’sgross, just like the deals for composers that we discussed onpage 475.TELEVISION SUPERVISORSOver the years, a few television shows have licensed extensive amounts ofexisting music to create a “cool vibe” for the show. Because of the rushedproduction time frame in television, and the smaller budgets, and the factthat television producers’ music departments simply aren’t equipped to dealwith the complicated clearance issues we’ve just discussed, this is a toughthing to pull together.Stepping in to save the day are music supervisors who work on televisionshows. The fees are pretty small—$3,500 to $5,500 for a half-hour episode,and up to $8,000 for an hour. If there are records, downloads, or streams,supervisors can get a royalty of about 1%, sometimes with sales escalations.A recent trend in this area is for music supervisors to troll indie labels,music blogs, YouTube, and similar sites, looking for unknown artists with
cool material. They then approach the artist or label and say, “We love yoursong. We’d like to put it on a TV show, which is a great way to promoteyour career. And if you wrote the song, you’ll even get performance moneywhen it’s aired. Oh, by the way, we pay almost nothing.”The artists are usually thrilled, because it can mean massive exposure fortheir material.
33Soundtrack Album DealsAs an artist, you have nothing to do with the deal to distribute a soundtrackalbum—notevenconsentorconsultation.Thesecontractsaremade