WFT Member in Focus: Juliet Martin – Music Supervisor, Silverstream Music

By 12 January 2024News & Events

At WFT Ireland, we are constantly inspired and impressed by the calibre of work being done by our members across the screen industry. So much so, that we love to celebrate their achievements with our slot ‘Member in Focus’. Starting off with the first of 2024, we are delighted to feature Juliet Martin – Music Supervisor, Silverstream Music. Juliet Martin established Silverstream Music in 2008, following a 15 year career in the music industry working for record labels, music publishing and in distribution. We talk to her about all things musical and inspirational!

 

Thank you for chatting with us Juliet. What was your journey into finding the world of music and film industries? 

I was working in the music industry as a label manager, and involved in publishing and artist management. I was coordinating album releases, tours and learning the ins and outs of music publishing and building up a great contact list. Through this, I was granting sync licences to film / TV production companies. I met a composer who asked me to represent him, and through those two things I started to learn about the film / TV side of things.

 

How did Silverstream Music come to be? 

In my above role I noticed that there was no one really serving the Irish film and TV sector for music – producers were going to the UK instead if they had a very music orientated project. I understood the business side of things and so I decided to set up Silverstream for that purpose: to really provide a full service to the media. As well as music supervision I also represent several Irish based composers and provide publishing administration. The landscape around rights and composers has really changed and there is still such a need for guidance for composers on what to expect and be aware of when they are being contracted.

Has much changed in the world of film and music in the past 15 years?

The change has been huge since I first started Silverstream. I’ve been really lucky in that regard as with the explosion in the role of a Music Supervisor and what it can bring to a production has really expanded. There is a more professional attitude to music and the scope of those is so much more international that it was previously. I am also lucky to have started working a lot with Element Pictures some years ago, and so have been involved in some of their brilliant productions.

 

Has technology influenced your work in any particular way?

Thank god for technology – I can’t imagine my life without Spotify and Disco. I research and make playlists for projects all the time and being able to upload large files and share them to the edit and the mix is a life saver. I don’t know how people worked at this job in the 90s!

Could you give us more of an insight into the process of music supervision? We’d be fascinated to have a peek into that process!

I usually read the script, meet with the filmmakers and then, based on that, build a really general playlist that fits with the tone or palate of the show. I would get MP3s of these tracks to the edit also so they can put them to picture. I also create  ‘bins’ of background music that are affordable and are easy to clear in a number of genres so they can place these early and we aren’t swapping out down the line. I then watch successive cuts of the show or film and make notes on the music and discuss with the team: what’s working or what’s not, and supply alternatives or seek clearance based on those conversations. Often we can’t afford what’s in the cut so I’d be suggesting alternatives within budget. I’d also clear anything before the shoot that needs clearance i.e. an ‘on camera’ usage. I’d also arrange any orchestral recordings, supply players for an on-camera use if needed, book pre-records, suggest and contract composers… the list is quite long!  I spend a lot of time trying out songs to picture – I could listen to 100 tracks for a scene – when the right match happens, it’s a great feeling and you sort of know you’ve hit the target.

 

As a music supervisor, who are the roles in the production that you work the closest with?  

I would work directly with the lead creative – be that the Showrunner or Director or Writer, and also the Producers – it does vary project to project. I’d also work really closely with the Editor, the Assistant Editor, and the Sound Mixer. On occasion I’d work closely with the Composer -–I’m working on a film at the moment that is quite collaborative with the Composer and the Director, discussing whether it will be the source or score etc. of respective scenes and I’ve really enjoyed that.

What would you say are the main differences between the processes of working in Film versus TV, versus advertising?

Overall the process between Film and TV is similar in that you are trying to serve the story and aid the story telling. The difference in Film is that you have a bit more time whereas the schedules on TV are tighter and more unforgiving. In advertising everything goes into that 30 seconds / 1 minute and if it’s a big brand that process can be very drawn out, you also tend to be removed from the final decision maker, but you are ultimately trying to aid the storytelling, but maybe there is more emphasis on the marketability of the act, so there is a bit more to consider from that angle.

What are some of your favourite projects you have worked on? 

I loved working on Normal People – that was very collaborative and I was very close to the heart of the show!  I also loved working on the Dry S1 and now S2! I recently worked on a film for Amazon Studios – that was great in that I got to licence some really big acts like Queen and David Bowie. It’s really gratifying to clear a track that everyone is very attached to and is key to the show.

Can you share any surprising or inspiring story from any of them? 

On Normal People we placed a London Grammar remix of ‘Hey Now’ in a club scene in Episode 3. I subsequently read an interview with the singer Hannah Reid from London Grammar in NME a while later saying she was blown away by the scene and the use of her song. It was surprising and rewarding! I love that scene and I spent a long time finding that track.  

On the same project, we licensed an Anna Mike track for the closing titles of Episode 1. From that, her streaming numbers skyrocketed and she signed to a large independent the following year. Those stories are really great to hear. It is so tough for a lot of artists now.

I put the composer Sarah Lynch forward for The Dry. She went on to create a unique score and win an IFTA, being the first Irish woman to score a TV series and the first woman to win an IFTA – it was brilliant being involved in that.

 

What are some of the most important things when working as a music supervisor? 

Excel spreadsheets! – Some people might think that the job just involves sending some of your favourite music to the team, but it’s 80% clearance, being organised, detail-driven, and making sure all the ’t’s and ‘i’s are dotted. You need to research and track down all the relevant rights holders and make sure it’s all appropriately licensed.  Being adaptable to each project and listening to the creative direction are also key. Things change quickly and you are often working to a deadline, so you need to be resourceful too.

 

What are some of the biggest challenges of a project?

Obscure clearances are difficult and managing the expectation with the budget! Music can be expensive, and that can come as a surprise to people, so it’s getting them to think about alternative tracks that can probably do the same thing as the very expensive ones!

Also to make a living you also have to have a number of projects going at any one time and this can be a juggling act, hence the spreadsheets! 

Sometimes there is a perception that you are just a clearance person – we are the people that are really analysing and thinking about the music, how it works in the context of the story and have experience of how that works in a drama. The best projects, with the best musical outcomes are always the really collaborative ones. 

 

We know that inspiration doesn’t just come on its own. How do you find inspiration and what kind of work or research do you do in that process?

I watch a lot of TV and film, and I really pay attention to the use of music within that, and would take inspiration from it. I listen to playlists compiled by artists I love, other supervisors etc. I’ll trawl through Spotify and also have relationships with some many smaller labels that I’ve built up through the years who have amazing, unknown catalogues. I try to think outside the box to provide different unexpected options just in case!

What would you say are some of the things you have learned in the industry, or in your work?

I think you need to be adaptable to a new group of people and way of working on each project. You are effectively starting a new job each time, so it can be a challenge finding a way that works for everyone. The earlier you start on the project the better and as I mentioned: the more collaborative, the better. 

Things change in my work very quickly, clearances are declined, and preferences change and so I’ve learned to try and keep everyone up to speed as much as possible so the producers are not blindsided, and so I would say regular communication is key. 

 

Are there any particular things you have learned about yourself in the work process that you would like to share with us?

I am self-employed and my own boss, and that has been great to give me flexibility with work, but that was challenging with a young family. I realised that I’m very good at juggling, but it was tough and to the detriment of my career for a time.  And also while it’s great to be your own boss I really thrive on collaborating with a team, and feeling the achievement of something together. 

We know that gender bias is a real issue across all spheres, and definitely in the entire Film / TV / Arts sector – How do you reconcile the gender gap with all issues that it comes with, and the passion for the everyday work you do?

I worked through the music industry in the 90s which wasn’t the most enlightened industry to work in! Things have improved but we still have a long way to go.  It’s great to see more women working in the industry now, and unlike the 90s I’m often not the only woman in the room, and yet I still regularly come across biases, which can be disheartening, but for the most part, you’re surrounded by people who are aware and want to make things better.

What are your personal favourite tunes at the moment?

I’ve included ‘From Eden’ by Hozier because we licensed that for a really great TV show that I worked on called Northern Lights. The writer, Stephen Jones had it as a track that inspired him, and we were really lucky to get it for the opening titles for the whole series. I love Sorcha Richardson and have used her music a lot over the years and I love this new single ‘Map of Manhattan’ from her. The 3rd track ‘One of Your Girls’ is a great, wistful pop song – I listen to it every day!

 

Thanks so much for chatting with us Juliet! Here is the playlist that Juliet compiled to inspire us!

 

About Juliet Martin 

Juliet Martin established Silverstream Music in 2008 following a 15-year career in the music industry working for record labels, music publishing and in distribution. Juliet brings her extensive knowledge, contacts and background in the music industry to her role in Silverstream which provides a variety of services including publishing, composer representation and music supervision for Film, TV and advertising. She currently provides music supervision services for some of Ireland’s biggest production companies. Projects Juliet has worked on include the Emmy, Golden Globe and Bafta winning series Normal People (BBC, Hulu) Conversations with Friends (BBC, Hulu), The Dry Seasons 1 & 2 (ITV RTE) and advertising campaigns for Dublin Airport, Mini and Tesco amongst others. Recent film / TV work includes God’s Creatures for A24 and the BBC with Paul Mescal and Emily Watson, Red, White and Royal Blue for Amazon Studios, and The Tourist Season 2 (BBC) for Two Brothers Pictures. Juliet has collaborated on over 30 films/mini-series/television series with various production companies  and budgets. She’s also had the pleasure of working with some of the most respected filmmakers in the industry. Composers she represents include: Sarah Lynch (IFTA winner for The Dry), Stephen Shannon (Castaways for Paramount Plus) and Michael Fleming (Where is George Gibney, Broken Law) amongst many more. She also guest lectures, regularly sits on industry panels, and is a publisher director on the Board of IMRO.