The best way to learn is to do, but if that option isn’t available the next best thing is to learn from someone who is doing it. For the past several years my career goals have been focused on a particular position, music supervisor. Thanks to Kelland and the SoSoActive internship I had the perfect platform to be able to interview individuals who are working as music supervisors. Determined, I took full advantage of this opportunity and began contacting local and not so local music supervisors. They say there is strength in numbers so I sent out several emails knowing there was a possibility I might not hear back from any of them. To my surprise I received a response from Dominique Preyer, who runs Hear It Clear It music supervision out of Round Rock, TX. He was willing to take the time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions and I cannot thank him enough for his valuable insight. I personally will take his advice into consideration and will use it to advance in my career as a music supervisor. I hope those who are reading are just as inspired!
Sarah: Is Hear It Clear It a one man operation?
Dominique: Yes. It’s just me.
Sarah: What is the hardest part about being a music supervisor?
Dominique: The hardest part is working with very small budgets when the filmmakers want expensive songs. The first thing is to help the filmmakers understand that their budget is too small for the songs they want. When they still want me to get a quote, I have to send a request form in that I know will get denied or I’ll receive a quote that is many times the amount of the entire music budget. The second hardest part is dealing with people who do not communicate well. Having to follow up many times over several months with no reply or call back is frustrating.
Sarah: What is your favorite part about being a music supervisor?
Dominique: Many times the director or producers already have songs in mind so I just have to clear the songs, negotiate the fees and deal with the licenses. That is a great part of the job but its best when I can pick the songs and then do all the admin too. When the film is finished and I get to watch the final cut, it makes all the hard work well worth it.
Sarah: What personality traits must you posses to be successful as a music supervisor?
Dominique: You must have a business mind and a creative mind. You must be able to multi-task, be organized, communicate well, constantly leaning more about the business (music & film), have a broad music taste, work well with others, have a tolerance for contract law (so you can draft and read license agreements, composer agreements, etc.)
Sarah: Do you have any advice for those looking to become a music supervisor? What level of education do you recommend? Do you recommend industry experience only? Or are there workshops you consider to be beneficial?
Dominique: Read as much as you can about music supervision. There are a lot of books about music supervision. Each book will give you a lot of information and fill in the gaps that other books leave out. There are a lot of recorded music supervisor panels that you can listen to have a chance to learn from the pros. There are workshops that are sponsored by NARIP, at film and music festivals, and some independent music supervisors have their own workshops. There’s a lot of information on the Internet but you’ll have to make sure you’re reading information that is accurate. There are some college courses available for the aspiring music supervisor as well but mostly in Los Angeles and New York. While doing all of this, you need to work on building up your music and film business relationships. They will become invaluable as your career progresses.
Sarah: Sifting through music submissions can be an overwhelming task, is there something that personally look for and or listen for in order to advance them to the next level?
Dominique: The song has to first be the right genre then tempo. I can tell as soon as the song starts if the genre and tempo is right. Next would be the lyrical content. If the song needs to be about a young girl in love with a young boy and the lyrics talk about a mom getting a divorce, it’s not going to work. If the scene is about a boy and the song is about a girl, it’s not going to work. Songs that are dead on the point don’t work most of the time. If the scene is about someone who just died, lyrics about death might not be appropriate. Lyrics that speak about how wonderful someone was might be more appropriate.
Sarah: How has the digital age changed your job?
Dominique: Yes it has. I work from home and I can music supervise a film anywhere in the world. With mobile devices, I do my work while on the road and if I need to, I can access my office computer from anywhere. This allows me to access my 2 TB and 160 MB hard drives where all of my files are.
Sarah: Do you still play music and write songs?
Dominique: I do not but I still have the urge. I do write down lyrics that come to mind. I have a huge box with lyrics going back to the mid 80’s. One day I would like to get a small home studio again and do more writing and recording.
Sarah: You have an impressive amount of projects you have worked on, do you have a favorite?
Dominique: I do have some that I really like. Right now I’m working on a film called “Good Night” which we are almost finished with. I’m also working on a musical short that I think is fantastic. I can’t wait for its release. “Angle Camouflaged” was another great movie because I have the opportunity to work with major artists such as The Marshall Tucker Band, Dilana, Patty Smithy and Kurtis Blow. Documentary “Trash Dance” was a great film too.
Sarah: I am also from Texas (Houston), I am curious to know if there is a “music supervision scene” here or does technology make your job possible so that living in LA or NY is not a requirement?
Dominique: I know there’s a film scene and music scene in Houston but I don’t know anyone that does music supervision. It doesn’t really matter though. You can work on a film anywhere. You just need to work on building your network of relationships.