October 3, 2011


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Written by: Mitch Salem
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>With the kind permission of, the following are excerpts from a recent interview conducted by Celine Geiger of Crushable with Alicen Schneider as part of their Hollywood Jobs feature. 

How did you get started in this business?
I worked part-time during college for a music supervision/clearance company and got some of my chops that way. It was enough to get me hired by Warner Special Products right out of college, which was the Film & TV licensing arm of the Time Warner record labels. I was also a college DJ for KXLU in Los Angeles, I interned at Elektra, and worked as a production intern at a TV production house that specialized in celebrity EPKs (electronic press kits).

Explain what exactly a Music Supervisor does. “Supervisor” seems pretty important.
A music supervisor manages almost all things music related in a production — selecting songs for scenes, managing the music budget, making sure all of the legal rights are secured in order to use the music, finding bands to perform on camera when applicable, etc.
What are some important things to consider when you’re choosing music for a scene?
It’s important to have a set tone so all of the music choices flow seamlessly. I also try to come up with a soundtrack that fits each character’s personality. The not-so-fun part is also having to choose music based on the show’s budget and make sure that I can actually successfully license everything that I’m suggesting.
How do you know when a song is working?
It’s weird in that you just feel it in your gut. It’s a totally instinctive process and it can totally change depending on whether or not you’re tired or the hour of the day or whether you can even be creative at that time. I have some days when I can’t be creative at all. That tends to come from burning the candle at both ends, stress, etc. If I’m working on a pitch too late at night, I sometimes get loopy and think I’m a genius and when I relisten in the morning I can’t figure out how I could ever think that a song was working for a scene.

What’s your work week like?

It’s crazy and totally unpredictable. In any given week I’m working with producers to find music, taking meetings with labels, publishers, managers, composers, artists like The National and St. Vincent…. all looking to get exposure for their priorities or to try to collaborate on projects. I also host music showcases. We had Ida Maria come in this week and play for our staff… We’ve also hosted the likes of Katy Perry when she was just starting out, The Airborne Toxic Event, Ozomatli, Train, The Fray, Ingrid Michaelson, Ron Sexsmith, Old 97′s, Grant Lee Phillips and countless others… It’s pretty exciting to have these amazing people be willing to come in and perform for us right outside our offices.

Are you constantly going out to shows and meeting awesome people?

I go out to maybe one show a week. I mostly save my show attendance for the music festivals. I travel to roughly 4 or 5 a year around the world to scope out what’s on the horizon.
Jealous! Where’s your favorite place you’ve been? Do you have a favorite festival?
Iceland was incredibly amazing! I also really love Australia, Denmark and Norway. The Oya Festival in Oslo is one of the coolest festivals I’ve ever attended, but I’m extremely loyal to South By Southwest as well!
Was there ever a band that you felt like you “broke” into mainstream?
I’m pretty indie-oriented, so that’s a tough one. I like to think that I’ve had a little bit of a hand in helping to push The Airborne Toxic Event out there as much as humanly possible. I also got a multiplatinum plaque for Enya for placing a song of hers in promos a few years back for Friends that ran for a year and supposedly saved her record, which had come out virtually unnoticed a few months before that.
Who are you listening to right now?
I’m always all over the place. I’m digging the new Bon Iver, Death Cab For Cutie, The Airborne Toxic Event, Other Lives, Kathryn Calder, Naked & The Famous, Joy Formidable, and countless one-offs by a ton of indie artists. I’m also always revisiting old comforts like the Dark Was The Night compilation.


What’s the secret to a perfect mixtape?
Love, fun, theme, and flow.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."