Songwriting For The Screen – SXSW Interview Amanda Krieg

Amanda Krieg began her career in the music department at Lionsgate, working on films such as The Winning Season and Warrior, and television projects that included Blue Mountain State (Spike), Running Wilde (Fox), Weeds (Showtime), Mad Men (AMC) and several pilots.  After three years with the department, Amanda tackled the unscripted world at Reveille Studios (now Shine America).  In addition to coordinating music on The Biggest Loser (NBC) and MasterChef (Fox), she music supervised two cable television shows: Commercial Kings (IFC) and One Born Every Minute (Lifetime).  At the start of this 2012, Amanda made the transition back to the film music world at leading music supervision, production and soundtrack company, Format Entertainment, as Music Coordinator for Julia Michels, on films that have included Pitch Perfect (Gold Circle Films/Universal), Parental Guidance (Fox) and the upcoming romantic comedy, Baggage Claim (Fox Searchlight).  In addition to her roles at Lionsgate, Shine America and now Format, Amanda has also music supervised the films Moonshine Inc. and The Back-Up Bride and operates the music blog, Tadpole Audio.

Amanda will be moderating the Songwriting For The Screen panel at South by Southwest on Friday, March 15th from 11:00AM to 12:00PM in the Austin Convention Center, Room 17A. We asked her a few questions about the panel:

What was your interest in creating this panel and how does it relate to your background?

In my current position at Format Entertainment working under music supervisor Julia Michels, I listen to more music than I have ever before.  I’m the gatekeeper.  I’m constantly cataloging tracks by mood, theme, genre, etc. and, when we have searches, trying them up to picture.  It doesn’t take long to realize that not every track is created equal.  Some songs could work in television, but just don’t feel right played against a Quicktime of a scene from a film.  Some are perfectly fine as the background music in a cafe, but are lacking when featured in a montage.  I feel like so many artists are so focused on how to get their music into the right hands, they don’t always consider whether their songs are even right for media.  With this panel I want to get to the bottom of why some tracks are “syncable” and others are not.

Part two is how to take that information and use it to write original tracks for specific projects.  With Julia, I’ve witnessed several original songs created for our projects, helped give feedback, and so forth.  Writing to picture is a great skill to have these days and can help artists get their work noticed in a new way; there are awards for original songs in both film and television.

Who else is on the panel and what do they bring to the subject?

I have a stellar group of people this year; most of them have collaborated at some point in the past, so they can actually discuss real world examples from different points of view.

First is Josh Collum, CEO of Sorted Noise.  As an artist, Josh has written songs that have appeared in films and television shows from “The Real World” to “Private Practice” to “Grey’s Anatomy.”  As the CEO of Sorted Noise he utilizes his expertise collaborating with and advising a select group of Nashville artists on creating custom tracks for film, television and advertising.

Then there is Amy Stroup, a well-known Nashville artist who has written songs that have been prominently featured in shows like “Parenthood,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “One Tree Hill,” and “Pretty Little Liars.”  She has had a great deal of success with her music in media, and can speak directly about the process of writing for film and television, the benefits of pursuing such opportunities, and ways artists can capitalize on a placement.

I also invited Daniel Higbee, of Secret Road, to participate as well.  Secret Road is one of the biggest little pitching companies and publishers out there; not only does Daniel pitch Amy for film and television, but many other artists as well.  Secret Road has a reputation for great songs and songwriters, and their roster is often tapped to write original tracks to picture.  Daniel has also been on the supervision side, assisting on television projects like Las Vegas and LOST.

And finally, there is music supervisor, Chris Mollere.  Chris has extensive experience in creating custom music for his films and television shows.  He frequently works with artists both in creating fresh covers of existing tracks (Trent Dabbs’ cover of “Last Kiss” for “The Vampire Diaries”) and in writing original songs.  He works closely with many artists (about five represented by Secret Road Music Services alone, as well as Sorted Noise artist The CO, just to name a few) for his projects and ABC Family in general, in the creative process, even visiting their studio to give feedback on the spot to get the song to exactly where he needs it to be.

Why is this panel important to musicians?

As I mentioned earlier, artists are often too concerned with how to get their music into the hands of supervisors, when many should spend more time honing their product.  It’s crucial to ensure your music is up to the same standards as what one hears on network television or in a film, and this panel will give artists the informational tools to do so.

What do you hope people will walk away with after attending this panel?

A new perspective on their work.  It really took me watching a ton of tracks up against quicktimes of scenes to start getting a sense of what worked and what didn’t.  I’m hoping myself and my speakers will be able to articulate many of those reasons why and save conference participants a few hours of trial and error!

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I just want to be clear that I’m not advocating every artist should change their writing or producing style to accommodate film or television needs on principle, but if you do want your music to be used, it’s beneficial to know what music supervisors are listening for.  With such a glut of mediocre music in the marketplace, the extra effort will definitely get you the attention you want.

Best way for people to contact you?
@tadpoleaudio on Twitter

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