JHRTS Panel at UTA on Music   Supervision & Synchronization

Music Placement In Visual Media

Music choices play a crucial role in the development process and finding the right sound for the show or film can make or break the final production and become a hit or a miss. The panel discussed the fine details that the ordinary viewer wouldn’t generally pay too close attention to.

Licensing professionals discuss the collaborative process of pitching and placing music into visual media (such as film, TV, advertisements, video, games, etc.) as well as the value a sncy can bring to a specific project or to a musician’s career

What’s What

Picking specific songs for specific scenes throughout the different development stages is a difficult task not only to enhance the production from a storytelling perspective but also to find out whether the song can be licensed and afforded.

Music supervisors typically will be pulled into the picture in the later stages of a production and starting point is the script. However, the earlier they get on board and help find the sound – the so called mood-boad stage – the better in order to meet the director’s criteria for the music as well as the available budget. The supervisor ultimately is responsible for gathering all required clearance and check ownership of the source music.

Music management and publishers develop relationships between artists and music supervisors which can be active via sitting down for meetings or passive via email blasts that contain the latest music of their talent.

Sync licensing managers need to figure out what the music is used for, which territories, etc One of the first steps in the process is to assess the fee associated with music requests


The clearance process can proceed in two ways: the song can either come in the form of a brief that has been pitched or the song already has been used. The latter can be extremely tricky since the costs for a well known song might exceed the budget. However, even at that point not all is lost as it boils down to the rights that are needed right now. For instance, if the film will be entered into the festival circuit and it will only be shown in festivals for a certain time and location the fee will be lower at the beginning with an option for a broader distribution conditioned by a higher fee. Thus, the terms of the budget and the artist, territory, media, etc. are factors that will be considered to the entire clearance process.

Another point that must be taken into account is the artist’s wishes of how their work will be used because some artists might not allow the association of their works with certain subject matters. In general, Peter Kurczaba advises to be aware of co-publishers, master right’s owners, estate approval rights and be transparent about the usage of the music.


Quotes also often issued with an expiration date for 30 days. The song could have a long life in a movie and if at first the artist is up and coming and provides the song for a low sync fee but then the artist becomes really popular, without an expiration date on the quote would still live at that same price tag. So, with that expiration date, the quote can go up later on which could potentially mess up the budget schedule.