In the film and television industries, music coordinators work closely with music editors, composers, and music supervisors to create and deliver cue sheets, ensuring that the film’s music royalties are distributed correctly. They might also negotiate and acquire synchronization rights for the film’s music. In certain cases, due to a tight music budget, a production might hire a single individual to perform the duties of both music coordinator and music supervisor.
Live-performance-oriented music coordinators, on the other hand, work with theater companies, dance companies, churches, and schools to provide assistance with budgeting, hiring, contracting, licensing, and music direction. In both live performance and film/TV, music coordinators sometimes work with or as music contractors, hiring and contracting musicians for a session or performance.
At a Glance
An advanced degree in music isn't always necessary to work as a music coordinator, but some productions prefer one. For the most part, music coordinator as a film and TV industry career path is on its way out. This is because the coordinator's duties overlap significantly with those of the music supervisor and music editor, and limited budgets inspire many productions to hire these more specialized professionals instead.
Still, the term gets around: it's common for music supervisors to work gigs as music coordinators, and occasionally to be credited as music coordinators even when the work they contributed was actually music supervision. Ultimately, all of these jobs are part of the same work ecosystem, which revolves around finding, securing, and crediting the pre-existing music used in a nonmusical production.
Music coordinators won't often find work on a job board; they're more likely to land a position through hard-won industry connections. Those aspiring to become music coordinators, or the more creatively oriented music supervisors, should seek experience working on student and indie productions. Music coordinators usually work for film studios, theater companies, and independent music-production companies. They may also be freelance.
- Music licensing
- Creating cue sheets
- Project management
- Music supervision
Music coordinators are highly organized jacks-of-all-trades. They are open-minded, knowledgeable, well-connected, and—most importantly—flexible. They come ready to do whatever needs to be done to move the production's music along.
The lifestyle of music coordinators varies greatly depending on their industry and employers. In most cases, coordinators work on one or two productions at a time, their daily hours dictated by meetings with others about the production and a timetable of long-term goals. Music coordinators who haven't yet "made it" may work a day job, while almost all music coordinators also perform small gigs as music supervisors, music contractors, session conductors, copyists, or even music editors.