3 Tips for Working with Music and Picture

As filmmakers, there is undoubtedly a slew of steps before reaching a locked picture. Color correction, video editing, sound design are all vital components that influence a film’s outcome -- it makes sense then why a good director surrounds him/herself with a team of experts, specializing within their individual roles. In the goal of achieving the ultimate movie soundtrack, filmmakers can turn to a music supervisor; someone who knows the in’s and out’s of music licensing, the technicalities of music clearances and scouring for the perfect sound.

At Marmoset, a full-service music agency, we work closely with both music supervisors and filmmakers on the daily; naturally, we partake in a lot of conversations revolving around music licensing and original music production. After all, there’s a lot of ground to cover when placing music to picture.

Through our seasoned experience, we’re passing along three tips to keep in mind to streamline the music placement process.


Quality music comes at a cost but for a good reason--when you think about what it takes for musicians to produce their music professionally, factoring in the time, energy and resources it takes to actually create music, that price tag associated with using their music really does make sense. Then there’s the definitive fact that even artists have bills to pay.

But budgeting for your project’s music can save you from future hassle and legal infringement barriers. Allocating just a part of a production’s budget allows the freedom to peruse a catalog of music without that dreadful feeling--you know the one, the one where you’re about to fall in love with something that isn’t attainable due to budgeting restrictions.

A big silver lining when working with copyrighted music? Music agencies like ours, Marmoset, offer various licenses for different uses. An example of this is Marmoset’s click licenses which can be secured online easily; these licenses are designed to facilitate the process for smaller projects, independent artists and referred to as the micro budget kind of projects. And with their onsite music licensing team, reaching out with your questions is encouraged, because it’s much better to feel confident about the music you’re using right off the bat-- so you can confidently share the final work with no hesitation or second guessing.


When watching your film dailies, the lack of color correction and other elements like sound design and a soundtrack, really make the raw footage feel bare. It’s clear something is missing and incomplete. In the case of music supervisors in the film & TV industry, they’re oftentimes given creative direction from the filmmaker who hired them.

It’s not rare for filmmakers to add their “dream” music into an edit; yet it’s commonly music that’s either not attainable due to unfathomable licensing costs--remember our point on budget--not licensable for that specific kind of distribution. But it doesn’t have to be a game of sacrificing value. Instead, filmmakers can lean on music agencies that specialize in offerings by indie artists and even vintage labels. At Marmoset, it’s not uncommon for music supervisors to request “a more affordable xyz that sounds like the pricey xyz” -- licensing a song that sounds similar to a trendy hit song means no sacrifice to the actual value, but big savings on budget.

Atop all of this, providing exposure for an upcoming indie band is a lot more rewarding than pouring out your pockets to a band who probably doesn’t need the extra cash.

Sound & Vision

While an onsite music licensing team is a huge component of what makes up Marmoset, filmmakers and creative agencies also default to the original music services for creating the ultimate soundtrack. But with producers and clients scattered through different time zones, nailing the sound design or original music score can get tricky at times.

In addition to creative calls and real time collaboration, features like Wipster’s audio review ensure everyone’s in sync. Clearing this kind of channel for open communication gets the right ears and eyes on the project. With the new audio review feature, there’s opportunity for offsite musicians and composers to nail a demo more easily, granted being able to reference specific notes (rather than relying on having to visualize the notes via a creative phone call).

Resources and tools like Wipster are opening up some new channels for filmmakers and musical artists--and that’s just music to all creatives’ ears.

Michelle Goldstein is a copywriter at
Marmoset — a full service music agency in Portland, Oregon.