Speed Dating with L.A. Music Supervisor Andrea von Foerster

This week’s column is the first in a series of speed dating Q&A’s between Indie Artists and top music industry professionals.

Last weekend I attended the WCMA/Breakout West Conference and Festival in Kelowna.  The town was a sardine can of industry pros from around the globe and a whole lot of keeners, er, indie musicians.  Wicked, intoxicating live music showcases aside, the major highlight of the festival was the mentoring sessions which gave artists invaluable opportunities to ask for advice and/or pitch their work to the big guns one on one.  I took this rare opportunity to get some intriguing and valuable information for you, my faithful readers and fellow indie musicians.  

THIS WEEK: Indie Jazz Artist Flora Ware Q&A with LA based Music Supervisor Andrea von Foerster


ANDREA VON FOERSTER is a Music Supervisor based in LA.  Her impressive credits in film and television particularly include two shows which are very well known for bringing a wealth of underground indie music to the iPods of the pop-cultured public, ie: Grey’s Anatomy and The O.C.   Her most recent work includes music supervision on the two seasons of Dollhouse and she is currently working on the independent films ‘From Prada to Nada’ (Lionsgate) and ‘The Secret Lives of Dorks” in addition to the TV show “Stargate Universe” (SyFy).

FLORA WARE is a singer-songwriter from the North Okanogan and Nelson BC.  In 2008 she received a BCIMA nomination for Best Jazz Artist of the Year and has been hailed as one of the rising Jazz talents on the West Coast.   She is currently seeking grants to polish up her new demo and has recently relocated to Vancouver with plans to put a new band together and tour in 2011.

Quickie Q&A with Flora:

What were your primary reasons for attending the conference?
Networking with the industry reps and other musicians. It was so close and thought I shouldn’t let this opportunity pass me by!
How did you feel before your session with Andrea von Foerster?
I was unclear how to approach a music supervisor, and if that was something an artist can do independently.
How did you feel after?
I know now that I can do it myself, and have a better idea how to pursue this path for getting my songs licensed, which is a good idea for any artist, indie or otherwise.


Flora Ware: You say to be specific when targeting a music supervisor, to know how they like to be approached, but beyond that what’s the best thing to do and say as an artist who wants to get their music in TV & Film?

von Foerster: The best pitches I usually get are from people who are fans of the show I’m working on.  They’ll say I love the show, I’ve been watching it from the beginning, I heard you use this song, my song goes like this, here you go.   So then I know what they’re talking about, and I know that they know what they’re talking about. 

I recently got an email from someone saying ‘yeah like my music would be perfect for One Tree Hill’ and I’m like ‘That’s awesome.. I don’t work on that show.” And that happens all the time and that’s the number one way to get a music supervisor to never listen to your music or even discontinue your email.. like they’ll just stop reading it and delete it right away.  I mean you’ve just shown me that you don’t care enough about your own career, and that you also don’t care about mine.

Flora Ware: Yeah, it’s not like you’re gonna take the time to say ‘I don’t work on that show but the person who does is…’

Exactly.  10 years ago I did.  But not anymore.

I guess my next question is how is that information found?  So you get specific and you think ‘my music would sound good in that show’ and you think ‘who is the music supervisor?’

von Foerster:  Well, you can watch the show and just freeze the credits.

Flora Ware: Ahhhhhhhh, as easy as that!

von Foerster: Yes!  Or you can go to imdb.com, but that’s not always accurate cause a lot of people update it themselves so you wont always have everything.  If you have IMDB Pro (which you pay some money for a year) you can get contact information for people.  But usually if you just Google enough you can find anything.   A lot of supervisors don’t have websites but some do and they’ll have the way you should pitch to them on there.

Indie Chick: And how do you specifically want music sent to you?

von Foerster: I don’t ever want a solo mp3 because that would take up my inbox and most supervisors would be really pissed if you sent an mp3 without asking.  If I get your whole album on a download link that’s good because I travel a lot and can listen to it then.  If it’s a physical CD though it becomes a coaster in my house or part of a fort I build with my dog.  It’s great if I go to a website and can download a zip of your entire album in one click.

Also, I want whole albums.  I don’t want to know what you think your favourite song is.  Because what if it doesn’t fit what I’m working on? And now I’ve judged your entire career on one song.  I work on 6 projects at a time so maybe the track you didn’t send me would fit something else or maybe your least favourite song of your own is the one that I think is the greatest.

Flora Ware: Yeah, you’re right, I guess we can’t always be our best judge of what’s going to work out there..

von Foerster:  Well because it’s not always even just what I like, it’s also what I know will fit with the directors taste, the producer’s taste, the studio’s taste, the networks taste.  There’s a lot of people to please so I’m the filter for basically legal reasons and taste reasons. 

Indie Chick: If you can’t find out how a music supervisor specifically wants to be contacted, what’s your best generic advice?

von Foerster:  1. Don’t try to approach the music supervisor directly, because that’s what music coordinators are for.  Coordinators do some of the same job that supervisors do but their boss is the supervisor and they’re usually the ones that go through all of the music, and they’re usually the next wave of supervisors anyway so those are the people to go to. 

2. Don’t ever call a music supervisor because most people don’t answer their phones anymore because we can’t get our jobs done.  Our job is listening so if we’re on the phone, we have to stop what we’re doing.

3. Email is really the best way to get a hold of anybody and keep the email as short as possible.  For me I like to have someone say where they’re from, and if they have their own rights, if they own their masters and if you don’t have it that’s fine, just say who does have it, then just what kind of music it is.

4. No one needs headshots. People have actually sent me 8/10 glossies as if I was a casting agent as well as huge press kits! Like that’s like 9 trees.. you don’t need to do that.  

5. The biggest thing, if you’re going to ask how to send it, just send them the link anyway.  So even if they don’t get back to you to say how they want it, you’ve already sent them the music.  If you do just ask and you wait, you may never hear back and you’ve just wasted an opportunity or you’re maybe making them create another email that they don’t want to send. 

Indie Chick: What else do artists need to do and have figured out in order to get their music placed?

von Foerster:  You have to have the rights to your publishing or master or know who does.  A lot of people aren’t even registered with SOCAN when I talk to them and I’m like ‘You’ll never get royalties.. there’s almost no point in you reaching out to me because all you’ll ever see is the upfront money, which probably wont be all that much and then you’re done.’ And the whole point is the back end. So you’re already failing yourself by not knowing that and then coming to me and being like ‘well how do I do it’ and I’m like ‘no no no, that’s what the internet is for.’  Look it up, everything is out there these days.  You kinda have no excuse to not invest in yourself.

Speed Dating Q&A for Indie Artists & The Industry continued in the next Issue of Urban Pie.


Shameless Promotion:
Buy Flora’s Music on CD Baby 

Where to Listen:

 Where to Buy:
*cdbaby.com, iTunes *= buy here first so artists can make the most money

On the Web:
www.floramusic.com, facebook.com/Flora.Ware.Music, myspace.com/floraware
Musical Sound in 4 words or Less:

Ideal performance setting:
Playing in a dimly lit club, for a listening audience seated cabaret style at round tables, or, performing outside at a summer festival, watching hundreds of people dance and sway to my music in the sunshine.
What she’d call the phase she’s in:
Transitioning from jazz chanteuse to original artist, getting on my feet here in the city, networking, networking, networking..