A music supervisor is a person who works with any of a variety of media productions to select and license all necessary music for an individual production or a group of productions. Music supervisors can work on films, television shows, musical theater, video games, commercials or any other production that requires the use of music. The term music supervisor also can refer to a single person in charge of overseeing the work of a group of music directors, each assigned to a different production. This definition is most often seen in musical theater.
The work of a music supervisor requires a number of skills as well as specialized knowledge. Music for a film, television show or commercial must be carefully chosen to reflect and enhance the mood and story of the individual production. Appropriate music selection can mean the difference between a scene that resonates powerfully with an audience and one that falls flat. This part of the job of a music supervisor is highly creative and requires a certain amount of artistic sensitivity.
By contrast, the other part of the work of a music supervisor involves working with various licensing companies to secure permission to use specific music in productions. The music supervisor must know what licensing entity must be contacted for a specific piece of music, as well as how much that piece of music will cost to the production. In some cases, music supervisors who are limited by a production's budget cannot afford the licensing fees for their first choices of music and must make different choices.
Music supervisors can work for a movie studio, an ad agency or any other company that requires music to be picked and licensed for use in a production. A television music supervisor can work on specific television shows, local news shows or even with a specific network's promotional department. Overall, the job of a television music supervisor is similar to that of a film music supervisor who often works for a movie studio and is assigned various projects. Some music supervisor professionals recommend working for a movie studio as a good starting point for this career.
Depending on the type of production and the way the work is organized, a music supervisor might work closely with those in charge of sound design. Sound design addresses all sounds in a production that are not music, such as sound effects or vocals. By working together with sound design, music supervisors can enhance the impact of both the music and the sound of a dramatic production.