Understanding creative roles in entertainment: The music supervisor as case study

Natalie Lewandowski*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


As a commercial entertainment sector, the film industry in Australia presents an economically viable commodity, with AU$1087.5 million worth of box office revenue being made in 2009 (Screen Australia, http://www. screenaustralia.gov.au/gtp/wcboadmission.html, 2010). With such a significant audience to entertain, it is unsurprising that film provides an ideal avenue for the communication of music. Music is an important element in the feature film, being used to set a scene, emphasize a plot development or incite a given emotion from the viewer. Feature film music ranges from specifically composed score to pre-recorded popular music licensed into the film. Increasingly, the latter is being used in feature films - impacting on the budgets, marketing and sound personnel of a film in a myriad of ways (see Smith, The Sounds of Commerce, New York: Columbia University Press, 1998). Of these sound personnel, the music supervisor is arguably impacted upon the most, and this can be attributed to the music supervisor's role to ensure all music within the film soundtrack is cleared and used in accordance within the legal rights of the licensor. However, the music supervisor in the Australian film context extends far beyond such clearances, with such personnel deciding which tracks are selected for the film and even suggesting certain pieces to the director - thus playing a creative collaborative role in the production. This area of communication in the Australian feature film industry is largely overlooked or marginalized in academic research (see Coyle, Reel Tracks, Eastleigh: John Libbey, 2005, for some tentative research). This interdisciplinary paper contributes findings from interviews conducted by the author with Australian music supervisors throughout the period 2007-2009. It charts both formal and informal networks and communication modes between film and music industry personnel working within the Australian entertainment industry to show the complexity of industrial practices in the contemporary period.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)865-875
Number of pages11
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010


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