EP NowEP StoreAcademySupportCommunityProducts by Country
Blog Home

Meet the Music Supervisor

Kasey Truman ('Grey’s Anatomy,' 'The Sandman,' 'Fire Country') on the art of creating cinematic soundtracks.
January 4, 2023
EP Blog-Interview-Music Supervisor-Kasey Truman

From All-ACC Division 1 College Soccer player to Hollywood music supervisor, Kasey Truman has channeled her athletic persistence into the high-stakes game of creating award-winning soundtracks for film and TV.

Truman began her career working with music supervisor, Mary Ramos, researching music for the Quentin Tarantino film ‘Death Proof,’ before breaking into the television world at Chop Shop Music Supervision where she worked for 13+ years alongside three-time Grammy Award-nominee, Alexandra Patsavas. Today, her credits include ‘Hart of Dixie’ (CBS), ‘Veronica Mars’ (Hulu), and ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ (ABC/Disney).

In 2020, Truman started her own business, Superfecta Music Supervision, and is currently working on ‘Fire Country’ (CBS), ‘Shining Vale’ (STARZ), ‘Gotham Knights’ (CW) and ‘The Sandman’ (Netflix) which was just picked up for a second season.

A former captain of the women’s soccer team at Duke University, with a Masters in Sports Psychology from Cal-State Fullerton, sports shaped Truman’s college years, but music was always part of her life.

Like many budding audiophiles, Truman grew up going to concerts with her mom and hanging out at the local record stores. In between soccer seasons, she even squeezed in a three-week internship at Cat's Cradle, an independent music venue in Carrboro, North Carolina.

“A big reason why I got into this business is because I love music, and wanted to share that,” explains Truman. “Growing up, I would create a mixtape of obscure artists I stumbled across in a record store and give them out to my friends and family. Much like today, as a music supervisor, I have the opportunity to pluck people from obscurity. And then, seeing them get a lot of streams from that deal, that leads to a record deal, is an awesome and rewarding feeling.”

The role of a music supervisor 

A music supervisor curates found music for the soundtrack of a film or TV show, along with any visual vocals, such as an on-camera band performing in a club, or a couple singing to a song on the radio. Once the music is selected, the music supervisor negotiates the license for each song with the songwriters and record companies to ensure the production can legally use it, and most importantly, stay on budget.

While some of Truman’s work begins in prep, where she might have to license a song for a visual vocal that’s been written into the script, most of her work is done in post-production.

After a project wraps, Truman reviews footage and reads the script to begin building a library of music for the showrunner and producers, sending sound compilations for them to choose from. This typically means creating six different versions of mixtapes with roughly fifteen songs on each to capture the tone of the show musically.

Once the showrunner picks a direction from a sound compilation, Truman will use that as a starting point to begin selecting music for the rest of the project.

fire country-cbs.jpg
'Fire Country' / CBS

Her current project, ‘Fire Country,’ is set in a small town in Northern California, which influences the range of musical genres she is exploring. “The showrunner wants to incorporate different tangents of country music into it. So, it can be rock country, pop country, or even Americana. Knowing this landscape helps me avoid hip hop, electronic, or the top 40,” she explains. “So, I’m putting together a collection of different artists that are aligned with the story’s theme and setting. I could use songs from Chris Stapleton, Ray Lamontagne, Lord Huron, and Wolfmother for starters. Once I narrow down the collection of artists, I can branch out from there for specific songs.”

Working with composers

There are two different approaches to adding music to a project: found music and composed music. In many cases, music supervisors will work side-by-side with composers. 

When working with a composer, it is the music supervisor’s job to source music that already exists from bands, artists, and musicians, while the composer writes and arranges an original instrumental music bed, called the score. This score connects the licensed music that Truman sources together for specific scenes into a cohesive soundtrack. 

Occasionally, Truman will discuss a scene with the composer to determine whether it should be a composed instrumental or a licensed song, but generally, the music supervisor and composer will focus on their respective elements and supplement each other in the final picture.

How to source music for the job

Technology has transformed many processes in creating film and television. From digital cameras, to special effects, to audio mixing, many roles in production have had to evolve, including the music supervisor. Since the digitization of music and the launch of music sharing sites like Spotify and Soundcloud, new platforms offer wide availability for any musical artist to enter the playing field. This dramatic shift has made the job of the music supervisor even more challenging.

When she first started in 2004, Truman received mailers with CDs in them, burning the music onto her computer and bringing them over to iTunes to create compilations. Opening the CD, seeing the artwork and lyrics, and reviewing the songwriters and publishers helped her visually absorb the content and create a mental catalog to keep her finger on the pulse of the industry.

Nashville singer/songwriter, Aron Wright, was one of those artists who sent her his CD in the mail. “I remember listening to it and falling in love with the music,” she recalls. “We used his song, ‘And Still, the Darkness Comes,’ in ‘Grey’s Anatomy.’ Wright has since become one of the most licensed artists in the history of the show. This is an example of an artist who had no record deal, and today, has soundtracked hundreds of scenes and ads. You might not know his name, but I guarantee you have heard his music!”

Reading about rising artists was also a way for Truman to stay on top of the music industry. “I used to religiously read the music magazine ‘Q’ from the United Kingdom. Once they wrote about two rising artists in the UK, Adele and Florence + The Machine. I found manager contacts and emailed them for music on each and they both wrote me back. I was floored when I heard ‘Hometown Glory’ by Adele. We then used it in the season 4 finale on ‘Grey’s Anatomy.’ The manager for Florence + The Machine sent me ‘Kiss With a Fist’ and we used that song in season 4 of ‘Chuck.’

'Grey's Anatomy' / ABC

Today, Truman’s experience of finding new music has changed, “I'll get an email with ten links to ten different albums that I click to download on my desktop. I'm not looking at artwork. I'm not looking at credits,” she explains. “So, it’s hard to remember it all because I’m not getting that tangible visual reference.”

With music so readily available to her now, Truman doesn’t have the bandwidth to keep up with reviewing every piece of music on the market. Instead, she relies on her relationships with labels and publishers to help her source new artists and releases for a specific genre. “We get music all the time now from publishers, record labels, management companies, and third-party pitch companies who represent either songwriters or artists for film and TV specifically,” she explains.

Still, Truman stays on top of new releases through the radio and her Spotify playlists. Categorizing by style helps her know where to start when she’s given a tone for a show, and how to find the artists to match.

“A colleague of mine once sent me unreleased music from a band called, The Lumineers,” she recalls. “I LOVED the album and sent the song ‘Ho Hey’ to my showrunner on ‘Hart of Dixie’ and they used it during the mid-season finale and it catapulted the band into mainstream music.”

The process of clearing a song to use in a project 

Once a song is chosen, clearing it to use legally is a complicated process that requires an agreement between the producers and the rights holders (e.g., the artist, record company, songwriter, publishing company, the estate, or all of them!)

Even if a song is perfect for a particular scene, Truman can never guarantee whether the clearance rights will be approved. Sometimes musicians will deny the clearance if the content includes drugs, sex, or violence that they don’t want their music associated with. But most of the time, the clearance depends on the status of the artist and how protective they are about their brand.

The clearance and approval process for high-profile artists generally depends on:

a) The amount of money a production has to offer them

b) How protective they are of their brand

Many big artists approve of the clearance process, but they don’t necessarily need the money, so they either raise their fees, or simply deny the use, as it might not fit their brand or it’s just something they are not interested in at the time.

Once a song is cleared, the budget is another factor to consider. If the musician approves, but with a hefty price tag attached, Truman will have to go back to the drawing board to select a different artist with a similar style.

Lesser-known or new artists are typically excited to have their music licensed for a film or TV episode since it’s one of the few ways for them to make money with broad exposure. Finding these artists and offering them an opportunity to “make it” is when Truman finds her job especially rewarding.

the sandman-netflix.jpeg
'The Sandman' / Netflix

“In this business, musicians have a potential platform that could propel their careers,” shares Truman. “So, being such a music fan, it's exciting to play a small part in their story. It’s fulfilling especially with good people who just need a break because they've been grinding it out for so long. When they get that win and you hear them say, ‘thank you so much’, it's like, oh wow! That’s a really cool feeling. And then beyond that, it’s also fulfilling when somebody watches a show and says, ‘I love the music on that show’ and you know that you were part of creating it.”

An alternative country/country fan, ‘Hart of Dixie’ was a career highlight for Truman. "I was able to be involved in providing opportunities for a genre of songwriters and artists that historically didn’t get much sync licensing love and that was very fulfilling!” she explains. Now, on ‘Fire Country,’ she continues channeling that passion saying, “We just used ‘Background Music’ by Maren Morris, one of my favorite songs of the year!”

Vance Joy is another artist Truman has admired for over a decade. She used his music in ‘Hart of Dixie’ and continued using his work in a pivotal 'Grey’s Anatomy' episode in 2021 with his then pre-released single, ‘Missing Piece.’

'Grey’s Anatomy' is especially known for breaking new artists, and their songs have become known as “classics” on the show. These songs include: ‘How to Save a Life’ by The Fray, ‘Chasing Cars’ by Snow Patrol, and ‘The Story’ by Brandi Carlile.

One of Truman’s favorite episodes she’s most proud of while working on the show was the 400th Episode (EP 1820). “I sourced songs from some of my favorite artists, covering the Grey's Anatomy ‘Classics.’” she explains. One of these covers was Brandi Carlile’s, ‘The Story,’ sung by Davis Naish which elevated the emotional impact of one of the scenes.”

Mentoring the next generation of music supervisors

In addition to launching the careers of rising musicians, Truman also gives back on the other side of the industry by mentoring youth interested in pursuing a career in entertainment. She volunteers with Diversify the Stage, an organization of artists and industry professionals who invest their time to teach historically marginalized and underrepresented communities. The organization's mission is designed to foster more diverse, inclusive, equitable, and accessible concerts, events, and touring workforces.

With the discipline of sports paired with her love of music, anyone would be lucky to have Truman as mentor, coaching them through a career in this fast-paced business. “I'm so grateful for being an athlete because you must have a certain mentality in this industry that requires persistence. Do you want to be great? Learn to understand people, put in the time, and keep going after it!”

Topic: Spotlight

Related Content

Behind the Boom: Why the UK is a Hotspot for Production

Explore the generous industry incentives, talent, and infrastructure available to productions filming in...
Changes to UK right to work checks

Important Changes to UK Right to Work Checks

On September 30, 2022 the UK rules around right to work checks will change. Here’s what productions need...
Topic: UK
Los Angeles Times logo-sq

Hollywood production in U.K. soars to record levels as crews complain of burnout

Spending on film and high-end television shoots reach record-breaking amounts as production activity...
Mount Hood, Oregon

Building on Oregon’s Cinema Legacy

How improved tax Incentives, job training, and production infrastructure is expanding the filmmaking...
EP Blog_SQUARE_Wes Hagen

Meet the Location Manager

A conversation with award-winning location manager Wes Hagen ('Ozark,' 'Hidden Figures.')
EP Blog_SQUARE_filmmaking in new mexico

Forging the Future of Filmmaking in New Mexico

As the film industry expands in the Southwest, New Mexico leads the region as top destination thanks to...
Sian Richards and Queen Latifah-square

A Face Kit for Every Skin Tone

Hollywood makeup artist Siân Richards is transforming the makeup industry for actors of every shade.
EP Blog_Residuals and the streaming model

Residuals and the Streaming Model

How residuals apply to historical content on new media platforms.
EP Blog_SQUARE_Fighting Hollywood Stereotypes-TTEI

Fighting Stereotypes and Rethinking Representation

How TTIE is advancing authentic storytelling in Hollywood by empowering historically excluded writers and...
Oklahoma route 66 sign

A New Frontier in Filmmaking

Oklahoma is becoming a production destination, thanks to new incentives and infrastructure programs.

Contracting in a COVID-19 World  

The pandemic has affected how UK production companies contract crew. Here’s how to reduce the impact of...

Terms to Include in UK Crew Contracts

Common terms which studios and production companies include in their UK crew contracts.
Topic: UK
KJ Lamb and Simon Donovan

Empowering the Next Wave of Production Accountants

The EP Production Portal team was delighted to participate in the biannual Netflix Assistant Production...
cell phone with sticky note stating sign here

Six e-Consent Myths (and Why They’re Not True)

Sheridans Associate, Sarmad Saleh, debunks some common e-consent myths.
Topic: Legal
EP Newsroom-Netflix logo-Thumbnail

Netflix and Entertainment Partners to Train Next Generation of Production Accountants

Netflix, in partnership with Entertainment Partners, is calling for applicants to participate in a...

7 Things Production Finance Teams Need to Know for Budgeting in 2023

Mark Hammond, VP of International Finance & Ops, shares some of the key factors production finance teams...
EP Newsroom-Thumbnail-PGGB

6FT From The Spotlight Wins Inaugural Earl of Wessex Award at PGGB Talent Showcase

Film and TV industry charity 6ft From the Spotlight were awarded The Production Guild of Great Britain’s...

Entertainment Partners and Netflix Pledge £500K ($608K) to New PGGB Talent Development Fund

Production Guild of Great Britain (PGGB) Talent Development Fund will support the development and...

New Union Agreement for Engaging Crew on UK HETV Takes Effect

Pact/Bectu 2023 agreement makes a number of key changes to the terms and conditions for engaging crew.
Topic: UK
Master Series square Thumbnail Pact Bectu Agreement

Understanding the New Pact/Bectu TV Drama Agreement 2023

Your comprehensive overview of the new Pact/Bectu TV Drama Agreement and how key changes will impact...
Topic: UK
Virtual Production

The UK Invests in Virtual Production as Content Boom Continues

The UK is doubling down on Virtual Production infrastructure; learn how and why they’re leading the charge...
Topic: UK

Hawaii 2023 Loan-Out GET Tax Rule FAQs

Productions seeking a Hawaii tax credit must withhold and report general excise tax (GET) on loan-outs in...

Production Incentives Update: December 2022

A look at changing film incentive programs across the US, Canada, and Czech Republic.

Hawaii Production Tax Incentives Notice

Hawaii announces new rules and procedures for reporting and paying loan-out HI General Excise Tax (GET)...

Budgeting and Forecasting Film and Television Residuals

What production accountants need to know to confidently budget and forecast for residuals.
Master Series Budgeting 2023

Budgeting for 2023: Federal, State, and Incentive Considerations

Learn what Federal and State payroll tax changes are coming in 2023, plus tips for setting up your...

UK Production Incentives All Producers Should Know About

Don't miss out on the UK's tax incentives, special programs, and national and regional funding...

Meet the Script Supervisor

A conversation with Rachel Connors Phillippe (‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,’ ‘Only Murders in the Building’)

Production Incentives Update: November 2022

Don't miss these US incentive programs, accepting applications now!

The Production Accountant’s Guide to Year-End Payroll

A step-by-step breakdown of how to navigate pitfalls and fix production payroll errors for a smooth year...

US Production Incentives Special Alert: Hawaii

Hawaii amends Motion Picture, Digital Media, and Film Production Income Tax Credit

Preparing for Year End: Focus, Find, and Fix!

EP's payroll tax experts share best practices to identify and resolve payroll tax errors for a smooth year...

Film Community and Industry Jobs Grow in Washington State

Thanks to new funding and a continuous effort by Amy Lillard, Executive Director of Washington Filmworks,...

Special Report: Entertainment – A Hollywood Education

It’s the best of times and the worst of times for employment in the entertainment/streaming industry.

Special Report: Entertainment – Soundstage Gold Rush

Hollywood is experiencing an ongoing boom that fills its Los Angeles production hub to overflow levels.
EP Blog_SQUARE_Creating a development budget

The Beginner’s Guide to Creating a Development Budget

Before you start the filmmaking process, learn what basics you need to budget for to get your idea off the...
Changes to UK Pensions Act

Proposed Changes to the UK Pensions Act Could Impact Production Budgets

Reintroduced bill seeks to give UK government the power to extend pensions auto-enrollment to young and...
Topic: UK
UK Gov Growth Plan

Mini Budget; Big Changes: What the UK Government’s Growth Plan Means for Production 

UK Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng announces new Growth Plan (aka the “mini budget”) and a big shake up of the...
Topic: UK
EP Blog_SQUARE_Streaming service

Streaming Services Expand to Latin America and New Audiences

SVOD providers look to Latin America as a gateway to global stories and new subscribers
Western Canada

Production Tax Incentives in Western Canada Every Producer Should Know About

Alberta and Manitoba offer film and TV productions competitive tax incentive programs and versatile...

Film Industry Booms in Buffalo

Western New York draws top filmmakers with expanded tax incentives, new soundstages, and architectural...
EP Blog_SQUARE_New York

NY Convenience Rule Impacts Remote Production Workers and Film Incentives

How remote employee payroll taxes apply to New York-based productions and if an employee’s physical...
Master Series Square Thumbnail-Film Financing-Crowdfunding

Film Financing Explained: Crowdfunding

Emily Best (Seed&Spark), Stacy Bradford (Indiegogo), and producer Zach Fineblum join us to discuss the ins...
EP Blog_SQUARE_1st AC Matt Sanderson

Meet the First Assistant Camera

A conversation with 1st AC Matt Sanderson ('Everything Everywhere All At Once')
EP Blog_SQUARE_US Expanded Incentives 2022-2

A Record Number of US States Expand Filmmaking Incentives in 2022

Your guide to the latest news in production incentives and film programs to come from the 2022 legislative...
EP Blog_SQUARE_New US Incentives 2022

New US Film Incentives Introduced in Arizona, Indiana, Florida, and West Virginia

As production continues to boom, new tax credits and other programs welcome industry to new locations...
EP Webinar Panelists - US Production Incentives Update

US Production Incentives Update: New and Expanded Programs in 2022

Film commissioners Colleen Bell and Sandy Lighterman, and production executives Jay Roewe and Ashley Rice,...
EP Blog_SQUARE-Atlantic Canada Expands Incentives

Atlantic Canada Expands Film Incentives in 2022

Enhanced production incentive programs attract industry to Newfoundland & Labrador, Nova Scotia, and...
Streaming platform on tablet device

The Evolution of Residuals: How Streaming Changed the Model

Understanding how residuals payments are calculated for new content on streaming platforms.
EP Blog_SQUARE_Penka Kouneva-2

Meet the Composer

A conversation with award-winning orchestrator and composer Penka Kouneva (‘Revenge,’ ‘Pirates of the...
Compliant crew contracting panel-square

Compliant Crew Contracting in the UK

Learn how to ensure your crew contracts are compliant with UK regulations and why the Production Portal is...
Topic: UK
dollar signs representing digital crowdfunding

The Beginner’s Guide to Crowdfunding

How filmmakers can leverage the power of social networks and online platforms to build buzz and secure...
5 Master Series panelists discussing Atlantic Canada production incentives-square

Production Incentives Update: Atlantic Canada

Learn how productions can benefit from newly expanded incentives in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland & Labrador,...
Canadian flag flying over Quebec City

5 Reasons to Consider Canada for Your Next Production

Here's why Canada deserves a spot on every producer's shortlist.
Topic: Canada
EP Blog_Jesse Wente

Supporting Indigenous Storytellers of Canada

How the Indigenous Screen Office (ISO) offers advocacy and funding for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis...
Topic: Canada
Jennifer Liscio

Spotlight: Jennifer Liscio, VP of Tax Incentives and Legal Affairs

Meet EP's Canadian legal affairs and tax incentives domain expert, Jennifer Liscio, and learn how she’s...

The UK GDPR and how Productions can Reduce their Exposure - Q&A with Sheridans

Sheridans’ Associate Krishan Neelendra answers key UK GDPR questions from production companies and...
Topic: UK

Payroll & Finances

PayrollResidualsSmartStartNew SmartTimeProduction PortalEP On LocationSmartAccountingEP LiveSmartPOCASHétPayPaymaster Rate GuideEP Residency

Manage Multiple Productions

AssetHubSmartHubSmartHub Vault
Subscribe now

Be an industry insider with EP's
newsletters and alerts

LegalPrivacy NoticeSecurity
© 2023 Entertainment Partners. All rights reserved.