Joseph learns the budget a film producer has for music in the film and he provides music within that producer’s budget. One way to stay within the budget limits is not to use “covers,” that is, not to make new recordings of well-known songs. Instead, Joseph will use his relationships with music libraries to find music that reminds the listener of certain songs, but does not use the expensive popular songs. He finds music “in the style of” a famous songwriter. Joseph prefers to be involved from the beginning of a project by reading the script to understand what sort of music might be needed. He “spots” the rough cut with the director, meaning he looks at the initial version of the film and talks with the film director about how the music might help the film tell its story. He talks about where music might be used in the movie and what music to use to show what the characters are feeling. Joseph will suggest three or four songs for a scene in a movie and “audition” them with the director. He tailors the search for music by observing how the director reacts to each song. When a director decides what song he wants to use in a scene, Joseph “clears” the song by negotiating with the music publisher or copyright owner so the song can be used.
Joseph works for CBS Sports, but his skills are also being used by Audiomine, a music licensing and custom music source for film, TV, advertising and other media outlets. He is also represented by an agent in Los Angeles, and he intends to start his own music supervision company soon.
He said it can be difficult to find new projects at the beginning stage of a career in music supervision. It’s important to gain credibility, to stand out from large numbers of other people who want to do the same job. “It takes long hours,” he said, “and very few people get rich being a music supervisor. It’s a long way to the top, and it’s important to know that up front to put things in perspective. “