HITS Daily Double
“We try to impact the musical landscape of the shows we work on by being open to new things.”
—-Alicen Schneider, NBC Universal TV Music


TV Music Supervisors Are New Gatekeepers
A special report by HITS’ Erica Ramon

While music has always been a part of television, its share of the big picture is clearly gaining traction. Music supervisors for film, TV and commercials are the new gatekeepers as shows become more music-intensive. Not only are viewers being exposed to new music, they’re also given the opportunity to purchase it with a click. From iTunes TV spots showcasing new artists like The Ting Tings to the ad cards that run at the end of an episode, fans no longer have to wonder who or what they just heard, or how to get it.

TV provides exposure to a great deal of new music as a vital platform for getting frequently independent artists to a large and diverse demographic. Music on television is still free, aside from your monthly cable bill. Bands like The Fray, Death Cab for Cutie and The Shins have launched successful careers by having songs featured in One Tree Hill, The Hills and Grey’s Anatomy. And behind every new song exposed on TV are the ears of a savvy music supe.

Getting your music into the hands of the “right” people is all about forming relationships, a process of establishing the kind of trust that takes time, but is well worth it.

To that end, we recently went behind the scenes with the NBC Universal TV Music team, a group of individuals bonded by a deep-rooted love for their job, which is getting the right music to accompany their programming and on-air promotion.

The 23-member department is led by the stalwart Alicen Schneider and Nicole de la Torriente, who have been on the job for more than 15 years apiece, on the creative and business-and-legal sides, respectively.

The duo has set the bar high for finding the right music for the company’s networks and cable stations. “We try to impact the musical landscape of the shows we work on,” notes Alicen, “by being open to new things.”

Agents, managers, publicists, artists, publishing companies, labels and foreign organizations, among others, generate a weekly average of more than 150 submissions. The relationship between the labels and the music supervisors is symbiotic, proving that TV exposure does help sell records.

The group’s weekly staff meetings are a time to brainstorm, in addition to the nuts and bolts required to run a department. This is where specific artists and shows are discussed and where new shows are assigned to current supervisors based on experience, strengths and personal taste.

Some of it involves troubleshooting. Director of Promo Services Janine Kerr explains that a big part of her day is spent “solving problems and making sure others don’t create them, either.”

Among those assigned to individual shows are Dave Madden (Life), Oliver Hild (In Plain Sight, Friday Night Lights), ex-HITS grueler Stacy Wallen-McCarthy (Lipstick Jungle), Kerri Drootin (Psyche, Kath and Kim) and Dan Rimas (30 Rock). Unlike other network music teams, each retains supervisor credits for the shows they work on, which means they all have IMDB entries.