Advice from Wendy Levy, Music Supervisor

I just read an excellent interview with music supervisor Wendy Levy. If you’re thinking about writing and pitching your songs to the Film & TV market (and you should be) here’s some information from a music supe who has used A LOT of songs in shows like The Fosters, Beauty and the Beast, Ravenswood, 90210, The Client List, Life Unexpected, and many more.

One thing in particular struck me as especially good advice. Levy says: “My job as a music supervisor is to identify the unique voice of each show – like a sonic paint box – with the tone and voice of the production. I present material to the producers to find out what they like. As characters evolve each season, the music changes to fit into that world.”

As a songwriter, you should be aware of the “unique voice” of a show. Watch a few episodes of a show like The Fosters, Gossip Girl, Parenthood, or Nashville. You’ll notice that the songs are quite different on each show. Keep a record of the songs being used, or look them up on Tunefind.com. Then study those songs to get a feel for the type of lyric, melody, production, and vocal style that works for the show. When you get a chance to pitch to the music supervisor – or to a music library that will do the pitching for you – be sure you’re on target and nail the signature sound.

Here’s the rest of the interview. (Interview with Wendy Levy by Shantell Ogden for Berklee Blogs.)

Writing Songs for Film & TV

Movie SlateThousands of songs are used in TV shows, films, and commercials each year. For every song that’s placed, many are auditioned – often hundreds – but only one is chosen. And you want that song to be yours.

The song that will get the job is the one that enhances the emotion and memorability of the scene for the viewers. Is a character discovering real love for the first time? The song needs to evoke that feeling of innocence, yearning, and wonder for the audience. Is the film set in a small town in the 1950s? The song needs to make us feel that we’ve traveled back to another time and place.  And the right song can bring the whole thing to life!

With that in mind, it may seem a little strange that most of the songs that are placed in film and TV are written and recorded first, then pitched to these projects. Many of these songs are part of a CD released by an independent artist or band – that’s right, they’re not signed to mainstream record labels and publishers.

While these songs were being written and recorded, there was no way to know how they might eventually be used in a film or TV show. So, if you don’t know how your song will be used, how can you craft it to increase your chances of a placement?  Well, let’s just say that some songs work better than others. Here are a few tips that will help you write a song that will work for dozens of scenes. Continue reading “Writing Songs for Film & TV”