Music Supervision

Author: Brad Hatfield | Course Code: OMBUS-495

award_berklee-2012 Music supervision stands at the center of two very powerful groups in the music industry: the creators of the music and the film and TV productions that rely on music to help tell and sell their story to the public. This course explores the ins and outs of music supervision, so that you will be able to function effectively on either side of a licensing transaction. The course begins with an overview of the many aspects of a music supervisor's job and then delves into the history, theory, and application of combining music and media. It provides an overview of the tools used by production teams, in addition to creative approaches, negotiation techniques, and licensing practices— essential information for artists who are interested in generating income from film or TV placements or students who want a career in music licensing.

The course contains exclusive interviews with music supervisors, sound and music editors, publishers, producers, engineers, and other music industry executives, including music supervisor Alex Patsavas, who has worked on over 60 films and television series (e.g., Grey's Anatomy, Gossip Girl, and The O.C.), and vice president of music for 20th Century Fox Television, Ward Hake (Glee, Modern Family, 24, The Simpsons, Family Guy, How I Met Your Mother, Sons of Anarchy, and Bones). Exercises, discussions, and assignments will be "real world," using materials from feature films, TV, ads, radio, and video games.

You will learn how to work effectively on a production team, locate resources for licensable music, offer creative options, select and license appropriate music, combine music with a variety of media, negotiate with a variety of rights holders, and generate detailed license requests, agreements, and cue sheets. The goal of the course is to give you a thorough understanding of the elements that make a piece of music a "perfect fit" for a production, in addition to an understanding of the needs of both the project (directors and producers) and the rights holders (writers, publishers, and master owners). Whether you are a publisher, songwriter / composer, master owner, or executive producer, you will gain skills needed to effectively work with the creative and budgetary aspects of combining music and other media.

By the end of this course, you will be able to:

  • analyze and satisfy the criteria for an effective music placement
  • understand rights holders' concerns
  • operate within a budget
  • negotiate effectively with anyone
  • communicate with a production team
  • establish familiarity with production workflow
  • discover resources for licensing music
  • customize licenses and create cue sheets
  • discover unique opportunities for music supervisors
  • get started as a music supervisor

Lesson 1: The Wide World of Music Supervision

What Does a Music Supervisor Do?History of Music Supervision and the Evolution as Technology AdvancesOwnership Rights and Performing Rights Organizations, CopyrightBasic Tenets of CopyrightFinding and Licensing MusicAssignment 1: Choosing a Song for a Scene

Lesson 2: Theory and Applications

Merging Sound with Vision: Creating a Unified FeelingSound Design and Location: Preserving the Perspective of Viewer/ActorChoosing Appropriate Filters to Emulate EnvironmentDefining Different Uses of MX: Score, Source, Theme, Bed, AtmosphericDefining Sound FX, "Nat" sound, ADRAssignment 2: Layering Elements of Score to Accompany Picture

Lesson 3: Communicate and Create

Keys to CommunicateDramatizationScripted Songs and Onscreen PerformancesFindings Songs Appropriate to Pitch for SceneCommunication with Decision MakersAssignment 3: Finding Songs from Music Libraries

Lesson 4: Tools of the Trade

Overview of Past and Present Tools Used in Radio, TV, Film, Sports Complexes, and Internet StreamingTo Edit or Stretch?Convert Full Audio to Smaller FormatDelivery MethodsSet Up Database of Songs Using "Tags"Setting Up Your "Studio"Assignment 4: Using Audio Editing Software

Lesson 5: Who Owns What?

Copyrights, Publishing, and Record CompaniesSearching PROs for Info: Foreign PRO and US PROApproaching Rights OwnersAssignment 5: Searching Songs by Artists

Lesson 6: May I See Your License?

Master/Sync and Back-End DealsFilling in a Complete LicenseMechanicals, Soundtrack, Blanket LicensesWorking with Composers and Network Owned PublishingTypes of Usages: BI, BV, SRCCreating a Proposal, Quote RequestWorking with a BudgetAssignment 6: Creating Quote Requests and Master/Sync Documents

Lesson 7: Time to Negotiate!

Interest-Based NegotiationHard Bargaining: Immovable Rights OwnersMulti-Party/Multi IssueAssertiveness: How to Assert Yourself in a Positive WayAssignment 7: Honing Your Negotiating Techniques

Lesson 8: Music Styles and Placement

Be Able to Consider All Types of MusicResearching a Style of MusicSpotting SessionsVibe or Lyric?Song Elements: Tempo, Feel, Harmony, Instrumentation, EraAssignment 8: Finding Music that "Fits" a Clip

Lesson 9: Cue Sheets and Royalties: A Direct Connection

Cue SheetsSpotting the Missing InfoFiling Methods/FormatsCorrecting Cue SheetsWhy the Cue Sheet MattersAssignment 9: Creating a Cue Sheet Based on Master Sync Licenses

Lesson 10: Starting the Final Project

Identifying What the Director WantsUsing Your Contacts, Established Music Libraries, NetworksSorting and Organizing: Conversations, License Acceptance, Re-Record Options, etc.Dealing with ChangesAssignment 10: Assembling the Final Project

Lesson 11: Unique MX Sup Opportunities

Video GamesChoosing Music on "Car Radio" for Video GameAM/FM Radio, Local TV BroadcastInternet Streaming, Web "Branding," Online NewspapersSmall Devices, Toys, Greeting CardsStadiums, Retail Stores, Casinos (Muzak and DMX)Assignment 11: Picking a "Niche" MX Sup Area

Lesson 12: Get Started

How You Can Get Involved?Film School ProjectsHow Do You Measure Up?How Do You Get Paid?Accepting Unsolicited SubmissionsAssignment 12: Final Project

Brad Hatfield

Author & Instructor

Brad Hatfield is an Emmy Award-winning composer and one of Boston's most prolific and popular musicians. He was nominated and won an Emmy in 2006 and received a Primetime Emmy nomination in 2010. His musical compositions have been heard on movies such as Borat, Analyze This, The Break Up, and Iron Man 2, as well as the TV series The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, ER, CSI, Saturday Night Live, Friends, The Young and The Restless, and dozens more. Hatfield is currently the co-composer for the FX Television series Rescue Me, starring Denis Leary. You can also hear him playing solo piano for the opening scene and end credits of Clint Eastwood's film, Mystic River.

Hatfield currently teaches Music Supervision, Songwriting, and Music Industry courses at Northeastern University and Songwriting at Berklee College of Music.

For more information, visit:

Required Books

Music Supervision: The Complete Guide to Selecting Music for Movies, TV, Games and New Media by Ramsay Adams, David Hnatiuk, David Weiss

Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher and William L. Ury

Recommended Book

Hey, That's My Music by Brooke Wentz

Software Requirements

  • A program to capture audio (e.g., Audacity for Mac or PC, Audio Hijack Pro for Mac, Applian Replay for PC)
  • QuickTime Pro for Mac (this enhanced version of the regular QuickTime player can be purchased through the Apple Web site for $29.99), or a program that combines audio with QuickTime files (e.g., MixCraft, iMovie, GarageBand or Vegas Movie Studio HD for PC)
  • A program for decompressing zip compacted files, such as the Windows extraction Wizard or Stuffit Expander by Aladdin, available as a free download at
  • PC Web Browser: Firefox (Recommended), Chrome, Internet Explorer 10 or higher
  • Mac Web Browser: Firefox (Recommended), Chrome, Safari
  • Flash Player
  • QuickTime: current version
  • Adobe Reader: current version

Hardware Requirements

PC Users

  • Windows Vista SP2 or higher
  • 2 GHz CPU (dual core CPU recommended)
  • 1 GB RAM
  • Display resolution 1024 x 768 pixels
  • Windows DirectX compatible audio hardware (ASIO compatible audio hardware recommended for low-latency performance)
  • 4 GB of free HD space

Mac Users

  • Mac OS X Version 10.7 or higher
  • Intel Mac
  • 2 GB RAM
  • Display Resolution 1024x768 pixels
  • CoreAudio compatible audio hardware
  • 4 GB of free HD space


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Next Term Starts June 27

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