How Do I Become a Music Director for Movies?

Research what it takes to become a music director for the movies. Learn about education opportunities, college internships, job duties and required skills to determine if this is the right career choice for you. Schools offering Music Business degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Music Director?

A music director is tasked with selecting appropriate songs and music to heighten the emotional and dramatic impact of film scenes. Music directors may hold auditions to find the best artists or groups to perform particular pieces. Once artists are chosen, music directors often oversee rehearsals and prepare for the audio recording. Depending on their background, those trained in conducting may conduct orchestras, choirs or other musical groups. These professionals ensure that each song is played at an appropriate volume, tempo and more to get the desired musical effect for the piece. The following chart gives an overview of what it takes to get a position in this field.

Degree Required No standard requirement; formal training and/or a bachelor's degree is typical
Education Field of Study Music composition, music business, film scoring
Training Required Foundational music skills, use of industry editing software
Key Skills Communication, creativity, research, negotiation, budgeting
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 3% (all music directors and composers)*
Median Salary (2015) $49,820 (all music directors and composers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Kind of Education Do I Need to Become a Music Director?

The path to becoming a music director for film (commonly known as a music supervisor) can involve formal training in a music composition, music business or film scoring degree program. These programs may include classes on the duties of music supervisors, the types of editing software they might use, file management and foundational music skills. You could also learn how to work with technical staff and musicians. Since formal education may not be required, there are also independent music supervision classes available that could last a couple of months.

What Job Duties Might I Have?

A music director is essentially responsible for locating and placing music for a film. Music plays an important role in movies, so music directors need to select appropriate songs for scenes that involve emotions like anger, humor and fear. You'll need to obtain licensing clearance, negotiate fees and set budgets for purchasing songs. You'll collaborate with producers, music publishers, composers and directors for the final edit of the movie's soundtrack.

What Skills Do I Need?

As a music director, you'll be interacting with music industry executives, technical staff and administrative help. To obtain the information that you need, excellent communication and research skills, patience and a wide scope of musical tastes are necessary. You should work well under pressure and with little supervision.

How Can I Gain Experience?

Internships provide a range of experiences that can lead you to a career as a music director. College and universities may offer internships, but record companies may offer opportunities, too. You may perform duties such as scanning and organizing music files, researching upcoming films to place music and processing royalties. If you're already working in the music field as a jingle writer, composer, orchestrator or music editor, your job experience can likely translate to music direction for film with additional training.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Musicians and singers have closely related careers that do not require formal education. These professionals may work with a music director to perform various kinds of music for audiences or record in a studio. Actors are also similar, but typically require some college-level training. These artists portray different characters in televisions shows, plays and more. Writers and authors also have related careers that require at least a bachelor's degree. These professionals create the written content for books, blogs, magazines and more.

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