Introducing … Women In Tune! Justine Taormino and I co-founded thisalumni organization to support and promote female musicians in the Los Angeles area. Following our inaugural ladies’ hike last fall, we recently held an engaging discussion on music licensing and supervision with guests Eve Nelson and Caitlin Hill.
Berklee alumna Eve Nelson, a prolific producer/songwriter with television credits on ABC, NBC, Oxygen, and Lifetime, graciously opened her home to 20 WIT members (including a few guys … because girl power means equal opportunity!) for an evening of in-depth conversation about music licensing, publishing, self-promotion, and the creative process.
Caitlin Hill, creative director for ABC/Disney, contributed her music supervision expertise with help from attendee Jen Monnar, a veteran music editor. Both women confirmed that music editors have become the unsung heroes of music placement—they often make final song choices in lieu of a supervisor, and can be easier to reach.
As Caitlin says, “when hearing something new, we’ll often bounce it off of music editors” to get a better sense of a song’s effectiveness. Jen describes her editing work as focused on one film at a time, whereas supervisors often take on ten projects simultaneously. As a result, “I’ve actually ended up supervising an entire film” under a distracted supervisor.
Both Eve and Caitlin insisted that when placing songs in film and television, it is crucial that the artist maintains a unique personality. Eve says, “the more generic and ‘poppy’ your music is, the worse it is for you.” Caitlin prefers an edgy rock vocal, while attendee Jen says “TV networks want someone that sounds like a real artist—the networks want to sound cool.”
As an example of a simple co-writing session turned smash hit, Eve recounted a song she wrote with Berklee alum Stephen Wrabel. The song began as a promotional track for the television pilot of “Minute to Win It,” earning a base sum up-front. The show was picked up by NBC, the song became the weekly theme, and each writer’s royalties added up to ten times the initial demo fee.
Answering the question of how to stay passionate about music without getting emotionally attached to your work, Eve says, “I have zero attachment to my work. I feel like I’m an actress. My heart is in it when I’m writing, then I step out of that role.” In the face of rejection, she adds, “Nothing is personal. Everything is an opinion. Get out of the ego and do the best work you can.”
With a diverse group of alumni, all working in different areas of the music industry and representing both immediate graduates and longtime career musicians, our first evening WIT event was an inspiring success. Women In Tune will host another evening Conversations event with Eve Nelson and special guests in May 2012. Stay “tuned”!
Neara Russell ’10 is a recent Berklee graduate living and working in Los Angeles.