By Courtney in Other on April's 3, 2010
Talented Music Supervisor offers insight into this unique profession
Any television or film fan can tell you that a piece of music can make or break a scene. Choosing the right music to fit the tone and mood is essential to the vision of the piece and the overall mood that is being conveyed.
Music Supervisor Lindsay Wolfington was kind enough to sit down with jitZul to explain the importance of this process and how one can take a love for music and incorporate it into a career in the Film and Television realm.
Please visit Lindsay's IMDB
page to learn more about her accomplishments.
What particular events in your life lead to you pursuing music as a career?
I have always been interested in music: singing in musicals, in a cappella groups, working in radio, making mixes, buying soundtracks. I got really into soundtracks in high school – both score and compilations. Then in college, I got hooked on the show ‘Felicity.’ The way they used music and used a lot of unknown artists made me realize that there must be someone whose job is to find all of that music.
I figured out that it was called Music Supervision, called a bunch of supervisors to get my foot in the door, and landed a connection to Madonna Wade-Reed and Jennifer Pyken and began as their intern. Then I worked really hard to keep the job. The rest is history.
You have been a Music Supervisor for successful television series such as "The Ghost Whisperer" and "One Tree Hill." How did this opportunity present itself?
I worked with Jen and Madonna for 4 years. They decided that each of us should be the point person on the show to make sure that each show got the attention it deserved. 2 years into the job, we picked up One Tree Hill, and I became the point person. I did all the paperwork and attended all meetings.
At the end of season 2, Jen and Madonna decided to split up their company, and OTH decided to keep me on. The production company that produced OTH also had other projects that they divided up fairly between us. I had worked really hard for them, and Mark Schwahn and I shared the same musical taste. On Ghost Whisperer, they had another music supervisor working for them Season 1. When Season 2 started, they wanted to do more with music and decided to hire somebody new. And luckily, that was me!
Do you have any other artistic outlets that you wish to pursue one day?
I used to want to be a singer. But I know that I’m not good enough to make a living at it, so I’m just happy to be around it.
When choosing music for a particular show, do you find it hard to reach outside of your music comfort zone and listen to things you might not normally like?
Sometimes. I’m generally not a big fan of music from the 70’s, but sometimes it’s entirely necessary for a scene, especially if the song needs to be specific to a character’s plotline in the 70’s or a flashback. But my job is to find the music that is best for the show, so I have to be able to find the "right song," regardless of whether I like it or not. I also don’t listen to a ton of dance music or hip hop, but I still enjoy finding the right song for a club scene. When the song really works well with the scene, it can make me like it more!
Why do you think that music has become just as important, if not more, than scenes in a show?
One of my producers’ says, "sometimes a song can say more than a line of dialogue." I think that’s true because a song illustrates emotion, and emotions can’t always be put into words. But I don’t think that a song is more important than a scene. In my line of work, the whole reason I have a job and can put someone’s song in a show is because there is a picture to match it to. But I do think that music can make a scene better than it is dry (without music).
Since you have to listen to so much music in your professional life, do you find your self searching for peace and quiet in your private life?
Yes. I listen to talk radio on my way home from work now! Or to pop music that I don’t use in my shows. I still love listening to music away from work, but I try not to overdo it because I can’t hear a song and not try to identify who the artist is or think "this would be good in this kind of scene." For my own sanity, I need to take a break from listening.
What steps should an artist take if they want to get their music heard on a TV show?
The best way to get music to supervisors is to work through companies that pitch artists already: labels, publishers, film & tv pitchers. I am inundated with music, so I need help weeding through it.
People who pitch to music supervisors select artists they believe in and categorize the type of music it is when they send it to me. They also know my paperwork, fees, and the rights I need when it comes to licensing. My job is very fast-paced, so I need to know that I can license whatever I’m pitching at the fees I need and for the rights I need, and get paperwork turned around fast. It helps me to turn to the people who already know the drill.
What is the process involved in becoming a music supervisor?
I think the best way is to work for another supervisor and learn the ropes. There are many details to the job that you can only learn from experience, including building relationships with labels, publishers and of course directors and producers who can hire you.
You have worked for a variety of networks through the years, do you search out a particular show to work on or do they contact you for your expertise?
Both. Like in any industry, relationships help you. A producer can recommend you to a friend. The studio can suggest you to a show. Sometimes a producer calls because I work on a show that is similar to a project they are working on, and they like the way I use music. Every once in awhile, I’ll hear about a show that looks really fun or interesting and see if I can make contact with someone on it to get hired.
Do you have a project that you have worked on that holds the most meaning for you?
One Tree Hill will always hold a special place in my heart, as I really got my start on it, and Mark Schwahn and Joe Davola believed in me. It was also really fun to work on Felicity. Before OTH, one of my first solo assignments was helping replace the music in Felicity Season 2 with indie artists for the DVD. That was really fun because I loved getting to pick a whole episode of songs for a show I already admired musically. It was great practice for what I do now on a daily basis, and I loved every minute of it.
What have you found to be the hardest aspects of your profession?
The clearance portion of my job is challenging. Negotiating fees and convincing a band who doesn’t want to approve to say yes can be really hard. And I have to clear things quickly, so I have to follow up with people constantly. But the hardest days are when you have to tell your producer/director that a band said no. It’s hard for them to not take it personally sometimes, and you just want to make them happy. Lastly, sometimes it can be hard to set aside your opinion and go with what your producer wants. It’s their show/film at the end of the day, so they have final say.