Pitching Perfect: Sync Exchange Podcast 13 – A chat with Music Supervisor Sarah Webster

Sarah Webster, Music Supervisor

Music Supervisor SARAH WEBSTER was born in England, raised in Vancouver BC and currently resides in Los Angeles. She has worked on over sixty films and television series since 2003. Most notably  Pitch Perfect 1 & 2. Each soundtrack won Top Soundtrack Award at the American Music Awards. (2013 & 2015). The Pitch Perfect 2 soundtrack was nominated for a Grammy for Top Soundtrack Album of 2015 as well as a Billboard Music Award.

Pitch Perfect 2 is the highest grossing musical comedy of all time.

It was her love of the underground dance music culture that was thriving on the West Coast in the early 1990’s that got Sarah her start in the music business. Somewhere between the Winter Music Conference and MIDEM, licensing house music for a software development company in Vancouver led to a job in business development for an independent record label group in New York City. 

Sarah’s focus shifted to visual media when she was hired to oversee the film music department for Canada’s leading & largest music management & booking agency, soon after becoming VP of Music Supervision for S.L. Feldman & Associates.

During her years as an Executive, Sarah oversaw all aspects of music supervision for dozens of projects, from television documentaries to big budget feature films. All the while, acting as agent to numerous award winning score composers. She has supervised countless episodes & seasons of television series that have been broadcast in countries all over the World. 

In 2009 Sarah left the corporate environment to start her own company, Saraswati Music Supervision. Her credits include Academy Award & Palme d’Or nominated projects, from film festival winners to major box office successes. 

Early musical influences include her Father’s passion for pop music, her Mod older brother’s British Invasion & New Wave albums, and her Mother’s love of opera.

Annotation of podcast:

00:00:28 – It all started with The Outsiders and Stevie Wonder in Grade 8…

00:01:18 – Getting professional: from a love of house music to game music

00:02:17 – A Move to NYC in 2002 to work with Naked Music  (Founded by one my favs BLUE SIX!!!, ed.)

00:02:37 – Back to Vancouver and some smart self-promotion leads to first music supervision gig and so on and so on… 

00:05:14 – Getting down to the business of music supervision

00:05:51 – Going indie: Sync and… yoga

00:07:44 – Pitch Perfect: off to LA and supervising the 80+ songs for the first Pitch Perfect movie

oo:o9:25 – Building a music supervision business 

00:10:03 – The Process of Music Supervision

00:10:48 – Managing and transitioning temp tracks with an eye to final use 

00:11:58 – The art of going after licenses (i.e., everything) for a project – and making sure you have a Plan B

00:14:45 – Positioning yourself for success in pitching music

00:15:29 – Sourcing music – who I go to for and how I find music

00:18:02 – Clearance best practices

00:18:46 – Insights from projects: Pitch Perfect, Stone of Destiny

00:20:40 – The evolution of music in projects

00:22:35 – Managing all the cooks in the kitchen

00:24:43 – beyond the creative points of the job

00:26:40 – Budgets, perception and reality

00:28:10 – What licensors should ask

00:31:50 – More pointers for licensors


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