[title size=”1″]Time, Money and Sync: Three Simple Rules For Success[/title]

Time Is Money, and in sync and placement, saving producers/music supervisors time and money can make the difference between your success or failure. Here’s why.

Whether a budget is large or small, using original scored music from a composer or licensing already existent music for a project, the job of a music supervisor is always constrained by limitations of time and money.

And, if you can work with a music supervisor in a reliable, precise and flexible manner, you’ll have a much better chance of both getting more music in projects and maintaining successful, long-term business relationships with people that use your music.

Here’s an example from my own experience as an ad producer, and this case, the de facto music supervisor.

I had a $30,000 budget to shoot a one minute spot for a client (Click here if you MUST see it) and put the whole thing together from soup to nuts in about five days.  Not a long timeline and not a huge budget (relatively).

My main concerns at this point were putting out the highest possible quality product for the lowest price.  Here’s the rundown of priorities in approximate level of importance:

  1. Storyboarding/writing the ad.
  2. Making sure the client is onboard with the concept and greenlights the creative and budget
  3. Hiring/working with the Director and Director of Photography 
  4. Casting
  5. Hiring good post-production 
  6. Getting a location 
  7. Union paperwork/general paperwork and accounting
  8. Lighting/equipment hire
  9. General shooting logistics
  10. Transportation 
  11. Feeding the cast/crew
  12. Music

Literally, music was the last thing I was worried about. And that’s pretty normal.

I was able to put this shot together for about 1/3 the price it would have cost for the people I used – the director was DEVO co-founder Jerry Casale along with a great cast and crew, including the model/actress Celeste Thorson (she’s worth taking a look at if you have the time) and others who do feature film photography and production.

The priority was getting the best people on the job we possibly could behind and in front of the camera. And, until that visual was shot and the director and I were happy with what we got, we really didn’t care about anything else.

And once we were happy with the pre-post visuals, only then we did we think about the music.  But post-shoot, almost all of what I have left is earmarked for post-production, except $500 for music.

Yes, that’s right $500 for music.  And the client needs to post the video in 48 hours.

And let’s face it, I’m not going to get any DEVO with a $30K total budget, so Jerry couldn’t give me any musical love.

Besides their music wasn’t right for the job anyway.

So what did I do?  What thousands of producers and music supervisors do every single day – go to the people, the libraries, the composers and the people they can trust to be on time and on budget.

My go-to guy in this case was the phenomenal electronic musician (and my good friend) Tatsuye Oe because I knew I could count on him to be on time and on budget.  

And of course he was.

I told him what I was doing, the length of the ad, the cues, and my budget, and within the hour he got back to me with four appropriate choices that were all pre-cleared and ready for immediate use at the price I needed.

I listened to the choices with the director, and an hour later got back to Tatsuya (who is also an expert in music licensing) with the track I preferred, sent him payment for the track and had the raw file to my post-production house that night.

The whole process took three hours. And the job was done right and on time.

Those are the kinds of timelines you need to be prepared to work under, and the flexibility you need to have in terms of budgeting if you want successful, long-term relationships with music supervisors and producers.

Here’s the three rules I suggest you follow in terms of time and money: 

Make it Simple by having pre-cleared tracks at the ready you can preview and send quickly.

Be Responsive to the timelines of your clients, when they say they need something in three hours get it done in two.

Be Flexible by working with the client if their budgets go up/down based on projects.

Follow these three simple rules and you’ll get the consistent love and business of many a music supervisor and producer.

Mark Frieser