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 Advances
  • Ownership Rights and Performing Rights Organizations, Copyright
  • Basic Tenets of Copyright
  • Finding and Licensing Music
  • Assignment 1: Choosing a Song for a Scene

Lesson 2: Theory and Applications

  • Merging Sound with Vision: Creating a Unified Feeling
  • Sound Design and Location: Preserving the Perspective of Viewer/Actor
  • Choosing Appropriate Filters to Emulate Environment
  • Defining Different Uses of MX: Score, Source, Theme, Bed, Atmospheric
  • Defining Sound FX, "Nat" sound, ADR
  • Assignment 2: Layering Elements of Score to Accompany Picture

Lesson 3: Communicate and Create

  • Keys to Communicate
  • Dramatization
  • Scripted Songs and Onscreen Performances
  • Findings Songs Appropriate to Pitch for Scene
  • Communication with Decision Makers
  • Assignment 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 Streaming
  • To Edit or Stretch?
  • Convert Full Audio to Smaller Format
  • Delivery Methods
  • Set 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 Companies
  • Searching PROs for Info: Foreign PRO and US PRO
  • Approaching Rights Owners
  • Assignment 5: Searching Songs by Artists

Lesson 6: May I See Your License?

  • Master/Sync and Back-End Deals
  • Filling in a Complete License
  • Mechanicals, Soundtrack, Blanket Licenses
  • Working with Composers and Network Owned Publishing
  • Types of Usages: BI, BV, SRC
  • Creating a Proposal, Quote Request
  • Working with a Budget
  • Assignment 6: Creating Quote Requests and Master/Sync Documents

Lesson 7: Time to Negotiate!

  • Interest-Based Negotiation
  • Hard Bargaining: Immovable Rights Owners
  • Multi-Party/Multi Issue
  • Assertiveness: How to Assert Yourself in a Positive Way
  • Assignment 7: Honing Your Negotiating Techniques

Lesson 8: Music Styles and Placement

  • Be Able to Consider All Types of Music
  • Researching a Style of Music
  • Spotting Sessions
  • Vibe or Lyric?
  • Song Elements: Tempo, Feel, Harmony, Instrumentation, Era
  • Assignment 8: Finding Music that "Fits" a Clip

Lesson 9: Cue Sheets and Royalties: A Direct Connection

  • Cue Sheets
  • Spotting the Missing Info
  • Filing Methods/Formats
  • Correcting Cue Sheets
  • Why the Cue Sheet Matters
  • Assignment 9: Creating a Cue Sheet Based on Master Sync Licenses

Lesson 10: Starting the Final Project

  • Identifying What the Director Wants
  • Using Your Contacts, Established Music Libraries, Networks
  • Sorting and Organizing: Conversations, License Acceptance, Re-Record Options, etc.
  • Dealing with Changes
  • Assignment 10: Assembling the Final Project

Lesson 11: Unique MX Sup Opportunities

  • Video Games
  • Choosing Music on "Car Radio" for Video Game
  • AM/FM Radio, Local TV Broadcast
  • Internet Streaming, Web "Branding," Online Newspapers
  • Small Devices, Toys, Greeting Cards
  • Stadiums, 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 Projects
  • How Do You Measure Up?
  • How Do You Get Paid?
  • Accepting Unsolicited Submissions
  • Assignment 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:


None required

Required Textbooks

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

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

Recommended Textbook

Hey, That's My Music by Brooke Wentz, MusicPro Guides/Hal Leonard

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)
  • Mac Web Browser: Firefox (Recommended), Chrome, or Safari
  • PC Web Browser: Firefox (Recommended), Chrome, Internet Explorer, or Edge
  • Flash Player (if using the Record Live tool)

Hardware Requirements

Mac Users

  • OS X 10.7 or higher
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 4 GB hard drive space
  • CoreAudio compatible audio hardware
  • Speakers or headphones
  • Webcam

PC Users

  • Windows Vista SP2 or higher
  • Intel Pentium 4 or higher
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 4 GB hard drive space
  • Windows DirectX compatible audio hardware (ASIO compatible audio hardware recommended for low-latency performance)
  • Speakers or headphones 
  • Webcam


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Next Term Starts January 9

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