“Music Supervisors Are Killing Songwriting”

Every single music conference I’ve attended over the last three years has had at least two sessions on music supervision for movies and TV. Usually, a couple of music supervisors–those people responsible for placing music in these productions–explain how they do their job and how artists can get their music considered for placement. Since this kind of exposure can do wonders for a song, these sessions are always very well attended.

Meanwhile, record labels and music publishers are also on board. They work hard at getting their songs in the hot TV show or on the soundtrack to some big movie.

Great, huh? With falling revenues from the sale of music, this kind of money-making opportunity is a win-win for everyone, right? Well, maybe not–at least according this article from the LA Weekly entitled “TV and Film Music Supervisors Are Killing Real Songwriting.”

Like many songwriters based in L.A., I’ve had publishing companies offer to discuss deals with me to get my music placed in film and TV soundtracks. Along the way I’ve heard things like this:

“Your song is really beautiful but it will never get placed because it’s too personal and limits where we can put it.”

“You shouldn’t use the word love in your songs because it will be difficult to place it.”

“Your songs stand out too much; try and write some stuff that blends into the background better.”

My experience is not unique. I’ve heard similar things from countless writers and artists who have had varying degrees of success in the industry. Music supervisors, the gatekeepers to music placement (or “syncs”) in TV and film, are asking and encouraging songwriters and recording artists to churn out generic, uninspired music with no real message. Music that is not too personal, with topics not too specific, and preferably a sound that doesn’t stand out and better blends into the background.

Keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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