The producers of an independent film want to create a team that will compliment their vision and help them reach their goals. Hiring an experienced music supervisor can greatly assist in the creative, financial and legal development of the project's musical concept. With the aid of a music supervisor the producers can be assured that the rights to use the music are properly cleared and licensed for use. Having a creative music supervisor working with the director on music through research, selection of songs and coordinating with the composer for a unique original score, creates a cohesive project which ultimately produces a higher level of success in both marketing and distribution. Just as independent filmmakers are aware of the benefits of hiring a composer to create original music for their projects as an alternative to purchasing stock music, the important role of a music supervisor follows this pattern to increase the quality of the production. Hiring a music supervisor at the beginning of a production allows time to discuss, from a creative, legal, financial and technical standpoint, the potential options for music. For instance, working on an independently funded documentary with little or no music budget, an experienced music supervisor would help develop the musical vision with the realities of what the cost may be, including the research of potential songs and recordings under consideration for licensing by the filmmaker and a discussion of composer production costs. The music supervisor can offer viable options and craft a sensible financial plan. A music supervisor will be able to get a filmmaker grounded in what is realistic from the beginning of their production and provide realistic strategies to obtain the rights for the music that is desired and provide viable alternatives. A music supervisor can also work with the composer to help articulate the type of score that most fits the collective vision and budget of a project while overseeing the score's production and on-time delivery for editing the audio mix. The music supervisor can coordinate and produce live music performances or scripted music scenes, including the hiring of musicians and other performers. Also, they can coordinate and produce specifically written songs and tracks for the production. A music supervisor with expertise in music clearance can design the most cost-effective licensing strategy, saving production time and money in licensing fees. They will have developed relationships with the personnel of the independent music publishing departments. Select music supervisors that are part of a full service music companies like Magnetic West Music are additionally publishing their own catalogue of music for easy one-stop access to fresh tracks from indie bands and composers. Companies like this will often have their own composers, the ability to edit and provide variations of the music, plus they have more flexibility in licensing costs.
One of the key moments of the music process for any production is the spotting session, where the director, producers and editors, along with the music supervisor and composer, review the film scene by scene and come up with a overview for the composer and music supervisor to follow in the creation of the score and placement of licensed tracks. The supervisor helps the director and composer providing recommendations and solutions. The supervisor ensures that the director's vision is communicated to the composer in terms of type of musical style the composer will use. The music supervisor can create spotting notes listing each potential cue or licensed song, its' start and ending times and notes about the moment itself, such as certain accents or mood changes. The entire team then has the same time-coded outline to work from, right through to the final audio mix. A supervisor can produce a video file embedded with potential songs against picture and placing cues as they are delivered by the composer delivering an overview for the producers and director to review.
Once the film has completed its final audio mix, the music supervisor will issue appropriate synch and master use licenses for all songs and tracks, based upon the terms, fees and conditions previously granted in writing. A music supervisor can properly prepare the end music credits for the film dictated by each music license and composer requirements. Before commercial exhibition of the film, a music supervisor will deliver the cue sheet that the distributors will request, and the music licensors will require containing a complete listing of all song and score cues, timings, authors and publishers and performance rights affiliations.
As independent filmmaking continues to reach a wider audience, the responsibility filmmakers have towards the music in their projects increases. The more a filmmaker utilizes the services that a music supervisor can provide, the easier music can be incorporated properly and the stronger the impact of the music will be in their projects.