I had the pleasure to sit down with one of the industry’s most coveted gate keepers, music supervisor Brian Vickers. Vickers is a music supervisor with Trailer Park, Inc., a trailer house based in Los Angeles, California. As with most music supervisors, Vickers possesses an extensive and impressive music background and could easily be classified as a music aficionado. Vickers heralds several collegiate degrees including a Bachelor of Science in Vocal Performance with a concentration in Jazz Studies from Howard University and an Associate of Science of Recording Arts from Full Sail University, both notable Universities.
As with most entrances into the music industry, Vickers stated that it was definitely a journey evolving from a performer to a gate keeper. Vickers suggests that those considering the field of music supervision should seek to network with credible entertainment companies, in his case major labels, production companies and NARAS.
“I was working with labels and production companies on the performance side as opposed to the sync side during my college years. It was through an internship at The Recording Academy [Los Angeles chapter] during my junior year that I was able to shift to the sync side and learn more about music licensing. It was through The Recording Academy that I gained valuable contacts and connections and really created additional opportunities outside of the University and performance setting(s),” Vickers stated.
“Prior to my invovlement with the sync side of the industry, I was also working with a few [major] production companies where I was able to blend the technical know-how of studio operations and engineering/production. This evolved into my involvement into music supervision and the sync side of the industry,” he stated.
Music supervisors, such as Vickers, are well-versed in recording engineering, production and performance tactics and equipment. So, it is wise to ensure that when submitting music to any supervisor that the sound quality [mix/master] and music is pretty darn good because they will hear any errors in the sound. This is one of the most important factors of helping your music stand out from the thousands of submissions supervisors receive on a daily basis.
Vickers is a valued company partner of Lgmusicpub Publishing and we submit to the firm often.
So, what do music supervisors really think about indie artists and/or labels? What are their thoughts when they get a submission from a startup label or local musician in their already cluttered inboxes? Do they see the message and automatically think, ‘oh wow, not another indie, don’t they know we’re a big deal?’ Do they shade indie artists and wish that they were never born? Well, check out this interview to help answer your questions to how to increase your chances of securing a use of your song in film or television.
Renita: So, Brian, what do you think of indie artists submitting songs to such a major avenue as Trailer Houses and Film and TV production companies? Is it worth it or are trailer houses just out of their league?
Brian: No, we love hearing new music, I know I do. It’s really about the sound of the actual music that’s submitted. I’ve placed music from indie’s often, and due to budget requirements I love when I can find a great sound from an indie or local artist. It’s a great deal for everyone involved.
Renita: So, even if the record was recorded in a bedroom or closet it’s all good?
Brian: That’s right. Once again, it’s about the final sound of the recording that determines whether or not it can be used in the project. Being that we’re a Trailer House, obviously we would need to have a certain level of quality for the music to fit our projects. But, you should never avoid submitting just because you’re an indie artist or company or because you recorded it in your Mom’s basement. With the equipment and production capacities out there today due to technological advancements, music can be recorded anywhere. As long as the sound quality is good, it’s okay.
Renita: Wow, that’s a relief. As an indie sometimes we can feel like placements are way out of our league. It’s so competitive you know?
Brian: Yes, you’re right. It is competitive and once we decide to pitch your songs to our team it could be a number of factors that determines whether or not we use the song.
Renita: So, how do you discover new music? What is your preferred method?
Brian: Well, it varies. We’re always listening out for new songs and new music. It could be something as simple as an email with a link to an artist’s Bandcamp or Soundcloud, I’m always on blogs like PitchFork and other major blogging sites for music, we’re everywhere! I’ve discovered several artists and bands just using Soundcloud or just seeing an artist perform a great show, so it just depends. So, an indie definitely wants to make sure that they’re visible and have an online presence where we can find you.
Renita: So, let’s say that an indie is able to get something placed. Would the producers/supervisors automatically lower fees because they’re indies?
Brian: No, not really. It doesn’t work that way. We have budgets and if we have the funds to cover the licensing fees, we’ll pay our rates regardless of the association of the artist with a major label or publisher. Obviously, majors have more bargaining power and may be able to negotiate higher fees, and sometimes it’s just way over our budget requirements. That’s where the power of the independent market comes in. If an indie has a great song that fits and is just as good as the major record we were interested in, we would seek out the indie artist as much as the major and compensate the indie artist, label, or publisher for the use of their song.
Well, there you have it folks. Music supervisors would love to hear from you and they love to discover new music. I would suggest, once again, that you ensure that your sound quality [the final mix/master] is intact before submitting to any production company to be seriously considered for a license opportunity.
Brian Vickers is a music supervisor with over three decades of music industry experience. He is currently based in Los Angeles and is a valued team member of Trailer Park, Inc. For more information about Trailer Park visit them online here at http://www.trailerpark.com/
Renita Holyfield, MBA is the Founder/CEO of Lgmusicpub Publishing, LLC. a full-service digital rights management enterprise based in Atlanta, Georgia. For more information about Lgmusicpub Publishing visit them online here at http://www.lgmusicpub.com/