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Tune Up, Lowlife High Road

Dear Jack:

I know a very talented singer/songwriter who has songs that I think would be great on certain television shows. How does one get unknown artists onto hit shows? I've heard it's the music supervisor he should approach and ask permission to submit his material. But how would you find these people? Tracking their addresses has been impossible. Any ideas for those trying to get their songs on television?


Los Angeles, Calif.

Dear Christy:

You are right. A great way to get songs into television shows is to submit them to the music supervisors. They are the ones responsible for finding appropriate music and presenting songs to the producers for consideration. Many get tons of unsolicited material, and some listen to every CD. As one music supervisor I spoke to said, "A quality music supervisor will take a minute to listen to someone else's art." In putting together the soundtrack for a show, music supervisors will draw from their music knowledge and submissions from various sources, occasionally new and unknown talent. They will sometimes "pitch" a newcomer's song if it's good and works for the show. One way this can work out well for an unknown artist is when music budgets are low. A newcomer's song might be cheaper than one from a well-known artist, giving them a leg up on a popular--and more expensive--music choice.

Another way to submit songs is through the studios that produce the shows. You can call the music department at studios such as Fox, WB, and Paramount, and ask for the name of the head of the Music Department or the vp of Creative Affairs. Then submit directly to that person. You can also submit to the show's producer or--if the show doesn't have a music supervisor--the music editor. Keep in mind, however, that if a show is too small for a supervisor, it probably doesn't have the budget for many music purchases. If you need a way to narrow down the list, target the producers or music supervisors of shows that appeal to you--ones that use music that fits your style. You might also send your submissions into music libraries, such as "Modern Music." Anywhere music editors or supervisors work with or listen to music is a good place for your CD.

One way to track these folks down--and get those seemingly elusive addresses--is through the Music Industry Directory or the Hollywood Creative Directory. Start by compiling a list of people to target. Then send off your CDs, either by Internet or mail. I know the Internet method is cheaper, but I suggest the mail route, especially if you don't have a relationship with the person you are submitting to. A physical CD sitting on the person's desk might get more attention than a file they can easily delete. Don't try to call these people and "sell" yourself over the phone. A follow-up call after you mail your CD to make sure they got it is OK, but you won't get much response--and may meet with irritation--if you overuse the phone calls. Busy supervisors and producers are not going to want to talk to you before they get to hear your stuff. Your CD should be your calling card. Your music will speak for itself.

Dear Jack:

I was not pleased to read the letter about the "lowlife manager" [BSW, 1/15/04 issue]. He is my manager, and I have been with him for almost a year. He's a damn fine manager who has done everything a manager should: I've come very far in this past year, and his wisdom and support have aided in that.

I agree with your advice that if actors feel that a situation is fishy, they should leave. We actors are vulnerable, and so we must trust our instincts at all times. That, however, isn't the issue. That letter and your response could potentially damage his reputation. And because he is my friend and I have a great actor/manager relationship with him, I would hate to see that happen. Also, his office is in an office building, not an apartment building like J.N. suggested.

I interact with his other clients at least once a week. Most of them have been with him more than two years and are thoroughly pleased with his representation. Basically I am proud to have him on my side. I know that in this business, where there are many people trying to take advantage of me, in him I have someone I can trust. The bottom line is, please be careful about whose name and/or company name you publish. When there are so many illegitimate "managers" out there, why pick on a manager who is legit?


via the Internet

Dear B.L.:

I won't repeat the manager's name here so as not to identify him further, as you suggested. However, my general advice remains the same. As you rightly said, we must trust our instincts. No matter how good a manager is, if an actor feels uncomfortable meeting with him for any reason, the actor should stay away.

In this case, the manager had cold called J.N.; she had not submitted to him, and he could not tell her where he had gotten her headshot, except that it was from "an audition" submission. Does this mean he got her information from an audition ad he placed himself or from someone else's breakdown submissions?

J.N. hadn't sought him out for representation and hadn't sent her materials to him directly, so either way the call itself sends up a red flag. He then invited J.N. to meet him at a building that appeared to her to be an apartment complex. I drove by the building to take a look at it, and it is indeed an apartment structure with no professional signage. I know many apartment buildings have been repurposed and rezoned to serve as offices, and perhaps this is the case in this instance. I have worked at several successful production companies with offices in buildings that, from the outside, seem to be apartments. However, you must understand J.N.'s impression and reaction. Perhaps the manager would be wise to warn new people he invites over about the building's residential appearance.

In doing further research on the manager in question, I learned that he is rather controversial. More than one actor has complained about his tactics and manner. However, many, such as yourself, recommend him and chalk his more colorful comments and behavior up to his sense of humor. Everyone's personal boundaries are different, so it's no wonder there is sometimes controversy over what is appropriate and what is not. The important thing is that you feel comfortable and supported, which you obviously do.

B.L., your point is well taken. I will be more careful on The Back Page in the future. In the meantime, I hope my readers continue to be careful, too.

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