Supervisor Spotlight: Daniel Payne

By Dominic Bastyra / Wake The Town

This month we feature an exclusive interview with Daniel Payne, Director of Music at Soho Music, who shares insights into his career to date and what inspired him to pursue a career in supervision.

When did you first learn about supervision and decide it was something you wanted to pursue? 

I first discovered music supervision whilst working at MCA Music Publishing. I was in A&R at the time and I loved going to sit downstairs with Barbara Zamoyska and the sync team, getting involved in creative discussions for upcoming films and TV projects for the writers and artists that we represented. Throughout my career in A&R I always worked very closely with the sync team at each company, as I always felt that the roles were so closely linked.

What were you doing before?

I started out working in recording studios as a sound engineer and then I went on to Universal Music Publishing as an A&R manger. After a time working with some amazing artists and song writers at Universal Music Publishing, I was really fortunate to get approached about an A&R role at Zomba (Jive). I started working there just as the whole Britney / N*Sync thing really started to kick off, a wonderful time to be in pop music. I have also worked in artist and producer management and for a time I was signed to Epic Records as an artist, be we don’t talk about that …

Was there a particular ad/film/tv show that inspired you to explore supervision?

I’m a big Kubrick fan and out of his films I would have to say that A Clockwork Orange had the biggest impact on me wanting to get further into music supervision, both the Wendy Carlos score and the licensed soundtrack are inspired. Having started out as a sound engineer I have always loved the interaction between sound design, music and visuals.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in the job?

Each supervision job brings it’s own set of new challenges. It could be the time-frame, the budget, working with a particular talent, new forms of media, copyright law … the list goes on.

What’s your dream project? Are there any particular directors, brands, artists or composers you’d like to work with?

I recently worked on a project with Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor, so that’s one I can tick off the list. I have worked with some incredibly creative and talented people over the years.

What’s the best/your favourite use of music in a film or advertising?

Oh tricky question …so many to choose from! I would have to say that I really enjoyed the Mica Levi score to Under The Skin. Having said that, I sat in the cinema beaming like an idiot to the recent Mary Poppins film and soundtrack!

What advice would you give someone looking to become a supervisor?

It’s not enough to just be creative and know what the next big band, artist or trend is. To be a music supervisor you really need to fully understand the licensing process, chain of rights, negotiation, copyright law in different countries and the legalities of a synchronisation contract. Do the groundwork and be kind.

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