Reply To: Ask a Music Supervisor

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Jesse Harlin

Hey, Jon –

I’d say first off: don’t feel timid. This is a business, and more specifically a business absolutely glutted with competition. If you’re feeling timid about getting your demo in front of music supervisors, you’re simply giving every other composer the benefit of not standing in their way. Part of a music supervisor’s job is to be the contact point for composers, so you’re not imposing on them by contacting them – especially if it’s via email. If you’re calling them, then yes. It’s possible you’re imposing. But if you email or mail your demo, then you’re reaching out in a way that they can give you attention when they have the time. Still, that said, if you have great contacts like you say, and a decent relationship with some music supervisors, I’d still suggest calling them from time to time simply due to the fact that you can’t put off a phone call like you can an email.

Now, as to your material, I’m not really seeing breadth of genre-experience. I see orchestral and hybrid orchestral. And this isn’t a bad thing. It’s clearly what you’re very good at. So, I don’t think that it’s really something to struggle over.

Now, I will say that I think 43 minutes is awfully long to just be saying “orchestral and hybrid orchestral composer”. You could do that within 10 minutes.

You have to always keep in mind that your demo isn’t an album that anyone will ever sit down and listen to for the enjoyment of listening to new music. It’s a tool. Music supervisors will start listening to a demo with a set of questions in their mind, whether consciously or unconsciously. They’ll be thinking things like “what’s this person’s style like?”, “do they understand melody well?”, “how are their production techniques?”, “how do their samples sound?”, “what is their taste level like?”, “can I trust them with an orchestra?”, etc. Once they feel like they know the answer to any of those questions, they’ll move onto trying to find out the answer to the next question. This means they may jump around through your demo. They might get everything they need to know from one track. They might get everything they need to know in 30 seconds (or less).

So, I always recommend to people that your demo be something short, sweet, and power-packed. Make sure it sells you as best as it can. Make sure your best stuff is up front. If you can’t gauge that for yourself, get someone with ears you trust to help you select which pieces are your best.