I ran across this insightful interview with Music Supervisor Lindsay Wolfington from the show One Tree Hill.  In it she offers the "other side" perspective of what they go through to get music into a show.  Below were some key parts of the interview that stood out to me, with extra special emphasis added with italics:

A lot of people think it's simple to get music for a television show, but on the real side, what kind of process do you go through to get songs played?
LW: Music supervision includes much more than just picking songs that you like. Here are the essential steps:

  1. The song has to work in a scene this is the most important part.
  2. The producer has to like the song he gets final say over what makes it in.
  3. I have to get permission from record labels and publishers for each song and agree on a fee that the label and songwriter will get paid if the song is used. Often I have to get permission within a very short time period, so that makes the job even trickier.
  4. I have to keep each episode within a certain budget, so we cannot use all popular and expensive music.
We balance our budget by using smaller, independent artists who don't cost as much and need the exposure. It is often most rewarding using an indie artist b/c we get to introduce our audience to a new talent that they probably haven t heard before and don t get to hear on the radio.

How long does it take to gather music for one episode?
LW: The whole process for one episode is about 3 weeks long: I send music to the editors based on the script for them to put in the episode; then the producer comes in and revises the episode and music as he sees fit; then we have a meeting with me, the composer, the music editor and Mark Schwahn and decide what songs we will use and can afford and what scenes we will score. After that, I have about a week to clear the songs with labels and publishers before we mix the episode.

Where do you find all the awesome 'underground' music featured on the show?
LW: I get a lot of packages... More than I can handle! Some of the underground music comes from smaller labels who have a particular sound that I will turn to for certain scenes. And then some of the indie artists come from managers and companies that pitch indie bands. The "finding" comes from actually listening to the albums and finding the gems on it. And that just takes effort.

How do you know which is the perfect song to end each episode with? What do you look for to make it fit?
LW: Usually the end montage, or Coda as we call it, ties together the emotions of several plotlines, so I try to find a song that mirrors that. Songs that have ups and downs that start out quiet, then get bigger for the chorus, but come down again or songs that build momentum are usually the best ones for the Coda. And if I can find lyrics that match what's happening, even better!
Before we end this interview, how can independent bands/artist submit their music for the show?
As I mentioned before, the submission process is overwhelming for me. So I'd prefer if they submitted music through companies that already pitch to me. Check out

Read the full interview: 

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